A fast-growing company with a startup mindset, Carta is always evolving. New employees are hired as rapidly as new features are released, creating an exciting work environment and a product customers love. However, constant change can make it difficult for employees to keep track of everything that’s happening.
Jina Kim, who currently works in compliance, has experienced firsthand the fast-paced growth at Carta, an SEC-registered transfer agent that helps public and private companies issue and manage securities. In her few years at the company as an early employee, Jina has had the opportunity to build out several teams. Her current role requires her to work very cross-functionally since compliance impacts—and is impacted by—many teams at Carta.
With change as the only constant and an ever-growing number of employees, it’s crucial that Jina and her team maintain transparency so no one is thrown off course by changes to product or procedure.
This transparency is also key to Carta’s “always be helpful” mentality, since it’s easier for team members to help one another and the customers they serve when they’re always on the same page.
###With constant growth, process is key Anyone who has ever worked at a fast-growing company can sympathize with growing pains. Excited about growth but also wanting to stay nimble, Jina and the Carta team realized early on that they’d need a process—and a tool—for scaling efficiently.
“The big picture is that we're a growing company,” explains Jina. “We're 300 people and growing, but we still have that startup mentality.”
For Carta, that startup mentality means maintaining the seamless coordination of a small, tight-knit team. This is no small task: As the company grows in size, the potential for missing an important update or losing track of what other teams are working on also grows. This is all the more important for ensuring that new product features are compliant.
“There are so many things that are constantly changing and communication is really the key,” says Jina. “If, for example, the support team comes in one day and they realize that something has changed in the product overnight, they need a way to find out.”
To keep up with the pace of change, Jina and her team rely on Asana to track who’s working on what, coordinate on work across business units, and most importantly, understand what product features are going out to market at any given time.
Teams at Carta also use Asana to create and run routine processes so that everyone knows what to expect and has the information they need to effectively do their jobs.
###Seeing—and sharing—the bigger picture In addition to staying on top of product changes, it’s also critical for everyone at Carta to have a clear understanding of what’s ahead on the product roadmap. To make sure everyone’s on the same page about bigger picture, the company holds weekly Show and Tell meetings to welcome new hires, share company news, and present new product features.
Although it’s expensive to get all 300 employees in a meeting for two hours every week, Show and Tell is a critical venue for teams to communicate big changes that will impact everyone across the company. “Show and Tell is so important because it’s the best way for the information to be dispersed,” explains Jina. “You know that you have the biggest audience at Show and Tell.”
When Carta had fewer than 100 employees, the Show and Tell agenda was looser: People would just stand up on the spot to share what they had been working on. With three times as many people spread across six offices now, it’s imperative that the meeting is well-run and efficient. By planning and organizing the meeting in Asana, everyone has a clear understanding of the agenda and meeting goals ahead of time.
“Before there was no assigned order, but as we grew, we needed a way to track the order of presentations,” says Jina. “Now, as people go through the product development cycle, they might realize, ‘This is a feature that will affect everybody at Carta.’ At that point, they'll go ahead and add a task to the Show and Tell project so they can present on it.”
It’s also crucial to connect all attendees of Show and Tell because they’re distributed across all six of Carta’s offices. Using the Asana project allows everyone to coordinate their presentation and know who is next—no matter what zip code they’re in.
Adds Jina, “Transparency is a fundamental part of our culture, and Show and Tell strengthens that. If you have a question about a feature, you can ask about it at the meeting.”
###Transparency isn’t just about the product The Carta team maintains a culture of transparency by staying in the know about their products at Show and Tell. But for questions that go beyond changes to features and how they work, they host Town Hall.
“Town Hall is a company-wide event during which our CEO answers questions submitted by the company,” explains Jina. “People add their questions as a task to an Asana project and the whole company is welcome to ‘like’ questions that they want answered. During Town Hall, our CEO will sort them by likes and answer them in that order.”
By using an Asana project that everyone can see, the leadership team ensures they’re covering what matters most to Carta employees while sparking discussions between and among team members.
“We love the fact that we can track Town Hall in Asana because you can know who asked a given question, see who liked it, and ask follow-up questions,” says Jina. “It also allows people to bond and feel included. Even if you're new and you don't know anything about the company, you can still ask a question and every question will be answered.”
###Tracking day-to-day work To achieve transparency at a more granular level and maintain regular communication, members of the business, engineering, and product teams attend daily cross-functional “morning meetings” to discuss work. They use Asana to manage morning meeting agendas, which typically consist of what’s being worked on during that week.
“Morning meetings are so important because they involve all the stakeholders. They allow teams to get feedback and to keep track of what everyone is working on,” says Jina. On any given morning, there can be as many as 10 or 12 morning meetings.
For instance, Jina attends the Public Markets morning meeting, which focuses on the product Carta builds for their public company customers. During this meeting, business, engineering and product team members go through their weekly updates.
“For folks outside of the product and engineering teams like me, morning meetings are good because I can get context and I'm able to do my job better. I have more visibility into potential compliance risks and can get involved or follow along where I need to.”
With Asana, everyone can see both the granular details of individual projects as well as high-level company progress.
###Achieving growth through accountability From tracking weekly sprints to asking the CEO anything, Jina and her team use Asana to ensure that everyone has what they need to be the best at their jobs.
Jina explains how this transparency affords them the accuracy they need to make helpful, accurate recommendations to customers. “For the business people, if you're going to go ahead and sell our software to a customer, you want to be able to say, ‘Hey, here are all the features that we're working on,’ and be accurate. You don’t want to sell a feature that isn’t being built.”
By holding themselves and each other accountable, Carta has done a rare thing: achieved massive growth while still feeling the energy and speed of their early startup days.
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