Research: The Explosive Growth of Slack Is Creating New Roles to Manage Collaboration

Five years ago, no one had ever heard of Slack.

Launched in 2013, Slack exploded onto the business landscape, quickly becoming the fastest-growing business application of all time.

The reason?

Slack increases productivity, turning internal communication from a tangle of forwarded email chains into a choreographed dance of organized conversations.

For customer-facing teams, leading organizations like Intercom, Square, and Hubspot are using Slack to execute a team-selling approach by leveraging this new way of working with a collaboration hub as their second screen.

Who’s Responsible for Collaboration?

In our work with sales and success organizations, we often run into someone whose job includes responsibility for ensuring sales and customer success teams have the tools they need to collaborate effectively.

For example, Shachar Avrahami of Feedvisor—whose work we profiled in a previous article—has the title “Success Operations Manager.” Shachar is responsible—in part—for equipping customer success teams at his company with the tools and processes they need to be successful.

We noticed this new trend of an employee being responsible for collaboration so often, we decided to do some research on this new role.

By analyzing well over a hundred current employee job descriptions plus a sample of job listings that included “collaboration” in the title, we found the following:

  • An emerging title called “Head of Collaboration” is appearing in job listings around the world.
  • The title Head of Collaboration is most common in Europe, followed by America.
  • The Head of Collaboration position appears to be a new title in most organizations, often one created for an existing member who was already working on collaboration as part of a previous role.
  • People who used to have the role of Head of Collaboration typically had the role for less than two years.
  • People who currently have the role of Head of Collaboration typically have had the role for more than two years.
  • Job listings show that dedicated collaboration roles usually only happen in bigger companies, but they exist in a variety of industries.

In what follows, we’ll break down the trends we found with this emerging job title to give you insight into the role if you’re considering adding it to your organization.

At the end, we’ll provide guidance for how to incorporate responsibility for collaboration into your organization based on what we see in the research—even if you’re not prepared to have a dedicated leader focused on the role.

Note: Troops is a Salesforce automation solution that works 100% within Slack. It is designed to help salespeople collaborate on their most important opportunities to close more deals. Sign up for a free trial.

Where Are Head of Collaboration Jobs Located?

For companies that have made the commitment to collaboration and hired a full-time “Head of Collaboration,” the first thing we found interesting was where those roles were located.

In order to see where people with the title “Head of Collaboration” were located, we mapped where they were based on LinkedIn research:

Locations of People with Job Title "Head of Collaboration"

Here’s a graphical representation of the same data:

Where Head of Collaboration Jobs are Located in the World

What jumps out here is that we found many more people with the title “Head of Collaboration” in Europe than in America.

This doesn’t mean that Americans spend less time or effort on integrating various technologies together. Instead, this suggests that companies in Europe are further along in standardizing this role than Americans.

Head of Collaboration Tenure Length in the Past

We split the Head of Collaboration job holders in two overall groups, those who held the position in the past (and no longer hold it) and those who currently hold it. Here’s a breakdown of the tenure length of people who held the job in the past:

Length of Tenure at Head of Collaboration Job in the Past

On the surface, this seems to suggest that people in the Head of Collaboration role tend to spend only a few years in the role.

When we dug deeper, however, we found instead that our data suggested there are plenty of people in this role who’ve been there for a while (more data on this in a moment).

But also, we found multiple people in our research that seemed to use this job as a stepping stone to more responsibility. Here’s one example:

Multiple people in our research seemed to use the job "Head of Collaboration" as a stepping stone to more responsibility.

This person only held the title of Head of Collaboration & Automation for 17 months. Before that, they were an IT manager. After this role, they became the Head of Software Development & DevOps, which certainly seems like a big promotion.

Interestingly, we found some people with Head of Collaboration titles in HR departments and others with the same title in IT departments. Regardless of their department, however, we saw the same pattern of Head of Collaboration as a stepping stone position.

The person above was working in an IT role, for example. Here’s the career path of someone in an HR department:

Collaboration Hub: Head of Collaboration tends to be a stepping stone to another position.

This shows how this role requires more than just technical understanding. The head of collaboration is managing systems that affect people’s day-to-day experience at their jobs. Some degree of empathy is quite necessary.

This employee used their time as Head of Collaboration to convince their managers that they had the ability and people skills to manage people in a different setting. They went from Head of Collaboration to Program Director and then to Director of Organizational Effectiveness.

The common thread among all of these jobs is that they require a strong understanding of people. Understanding people is what allowed this person to succeed as a Head of Collaboration and as the Director of Organizational Effectiveness.

If you’re hiring a Head of Collaboration, keep in mind that they’ll need to understand how their technical decisions and integrations affect the lives of real humans. Someone who has this type of empathy may want to grow into a people management role instead of a technical role.

Head of Collaboration Job Tenure Length in the Present

Here’s the tenure length we saw when we looked at people who still working as a Head of Collaboration:

Collaboration Hub: Length of Tenure for People Currently Working as Head of Collaboration

As we noted earlier, this data suggests that there are plenty of people who stay in this role for quite some time.

In fact, 25 of 73 (or 34%) of the people we recorded have worked as a Head of Collaboration for over three years. The longest we saw was someone who has worked as a Head of Collaboration for over nine years.

Our conclusion? While there are people who have used the Head of Collaboration as a stepping stone to more prestigious jobs, others are content to spend a long time working at this job.

Either way, Head of Collaboration appears to be a prestigious position in most of the companies we looked at.

Average and Median Tenure Length as Head of Collaboration in the Past and Present

Here’s what we saw when we compared the average and median tenure lengths as a Head of Collaboration for workers past and present:

Collaboration Hub: Average and Median Tenure Length as Head of Collaboration in the Past and Present

These results might go against your intuition. You might expect the tenure length to be lower for those who are currently at the job as they’re still in the middle of the process of using this job as a stepping stone.

What is actually happening is what we mentioned earlier: there are a significant amount of people who are willing to stay at this job for a while.

The numbers back up this obvious but important point: Hiring the right person as your Head of Collaboration can be an important decision for your organization for years to come.

Head of Collaboration Job Listings

We wanted to research job listings for Head of Collaboration jobs, but it ended up being a lot harder than we expected. Here’s what we saw when we searched all LinkedIn jobs for the phrase “head of collaboration”:

Collaboration Hub: When searching the job title "Head of Collaboration" on LinkedIn, no results are displayed.

We also couldn’t find a single listing when searching Indeed:

Collaboration Hub: When searching the job title "Head of Collaboration" on Indeed, no results are displayed.

Even though we saw many people with this job title, there weren’t many job listings for it.

This suggests to us that Head of Collaboration is probably a job that is created and filled from the inside—rather than hiring in someone new. This makes sense to us based on what we’ve heard from people in this role, who often have years working with the systems in their companies.

After a decent amount of searching, we found a small number of listings for jobs that are similar to the Head of Collaboration we’ve been talking about:

Companies hiring for Collaboration Roles

What first jumped out to us was the different titles used. You might think these are completely different jobs, but they’re all pretty much the same thing: managing various tech systems to help internal employees perform their job better.

Finally, we noticed that every company on this list has over 1,000 employees. Startups don’t seem to have the need or budget to hire a full-time person to manage collaboration across their organization. When an organization is larger, it needs someone to make sure that hundreds of people can use these systems effectively.

Takeaways from the Research

Here are our biggest takeaways from the research:

  • A collaboration specialist needs to have a combination of human empathy along with a technical understanding of the technologies being integrated.
  • Some people use the Head of Collaboration position as a stepping stone while others are willing to work at this job for a while.
  • Job listings are unique from company to company. Organizations are hiring for similar work but posting different job titles.

Who’s Responsible for Collaboration at Your Company?

If there’s one trend we see—both in this research and in our work with top sales companies—it’s that collaboration and team selling is an approach that creates better results across companies.

For sales, success, and operations leaders specifically, the best revenue teams we work with are increasingly investing in their collaborative processes and—in particular—team selling to generate more leads and close more deals.

Whether your organization is prepared to hire a “Head of Collaboration,” we believe someone in every organization should be responsible for ensuring employees have the tools they need to collaborate effectively.

In some companies, that might be a person in HR. In others, it might be someone in IT. Regardless, someone should lead the effort to improve results through collaboration.

Which begs the question…

Who’s responsible for improving results through collaboration at your company?

Note: At Troops, we’re building solutions that help salespeople work collaboratively to close more deals as a team. Want to know more about how it works? Sign up for a free trial.

Tommy Klouwers

Written by Tommy Klouwers

Subscribe to our blog