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Asana’s Engineering Manager Community: Helping our team grow and thrive

Asana Engineering TeamEngineering Team
June 25th, 2021
3 min read
Asana’s Engineering Manager Community: Helping our team grow and thrive (Image)

Building leading work management software is challenging, and it’s essential to grow and support the engineers and teams that take on that challenge. 

We rely on Engineering Managers who have strong fundamentals to support the talented individuals and teams that deliver on our mission. But fundamentals alone aren’t enough to build the best teams. At Asana, we cultivate a community around our Engineering Managers (EMs) so they have the support they need to practice their core skills while learning from and growing with their peers. The strength of this community plays a key part enabling our managers to have high impact and develop their craft. 

What does management as a member of this community look like in practice? And how does that support network help grow management skills? Read on to learn how.

What is Asana’s Engineering Manager Community?

Engineering Managers are the people managers that support Product, Infrastructure, and Data Engineering teams. We’re responsible for ensuring our teams are well equipped to build the best work management software out there.

Some of us started our Asana careers as individual contributors. Others joined with several years of experience as managers. Collectively, we’ve built teams at small startups and large enterprise software companies, in the public and private sectors, at companies with different management philosophies, and with teams solving different problems with different technologies. 

That diversity of experience is necessary for a thriving community, but it takes more to sustain it. We’re a community because we share. We sift through our experiences together to find the important elements of great management worth keeping. We lean on each other to solve hard problems. Asana is a great place to make a big impact as a manager and grow management skills, because we’ve woven that community into how we operate. You’d have to actively try to not participate, and being a part of the community is one of the best parts of being an EM at Asana.

Engineering Manager Circles

Need to gut check an idea? Practice for a tough conversation? Ask for pro-tips? Or maybe just decompress with some of your peers? We’ve all been there! At Asana, our Manager Circles provide a space to pick other managers’ brains for nuggets of insight that can help us develop our management craft.

For example, Jackie Bow, a manager on our Security team, matches up EMs from around the company into small groups where it’s safe to have just those types of conversations. Manager Circles are a great way for EMs to swap perspectives and practice with colleagues outside of their immediate team. 

Jackie ensures that each Manager Circle includes folks with a variety of backgrounds, management experience, and tenures at Asana. So it doesn’t matter if you’re new to Asana or management and looking for some advice on the fundamentals, or if you have years of experience but want a fresh perspective on a tricky situation. Someone in your Manager Circle can always help.  

Engineering Manager Community Meeting (EMCM)

At Asana, we’re not into wasting time in meetings, so we make sure our EM Community Meeting (EMCM) is relevant to all EMs and directly applicable to their teams.  At EMCM, we discuss initiatives, flag changes to processes or practices, or share expectations and context for upcoming organization milestones. 

All that is pretty typical stuff. But Ryan Atkins, Eng Operations Lead, ensures that it’s also an actionable growth and learning opportunity for the entire manager community. He pairs the large group discussion with breakout sessions where we trade insights and pro-tips about the topic at hand and draw on our collective experience to identify concrete next steps we can take to better support our teams.

We recognize outstanding manager impact during each meeting’s You Otter Know segment (which pays homage to one of our beloved celebration creatures, The Otter). Sharing these high impact success stories helps us all identify growth opportunities for ourselves and our teams. 

Outstanding Manager Bootcamp

The diversity of our EMs’ backgrounds and experiences are core to the strength of our EM community, and for some fundamentals, consistency is key. That’s where our Outstanding Manager Bootcamp comes in!

Our People Team supports new and experienced managers with a series of custom trainings designed to level up our managers on topics like:

  • How to have impactful 1:1s

  • Coaching vs. guiding vs. directing

  • Compensation conversations

  • Creating accountability

These trainings not only educate our management team on industry best practices but also show how we can use Asana and other tools to better support our teams and ensure that our approach to difficult management scenarios is grounded in our shared values. 

Putting it all together

Let’s imagine that you’re preparing to give a member of your team a raise. You’d expect your team member to ask questions about how the raise reflected their performance on recent projects, so you’d want to be well prepared to address those questions. Here’s our EM community would support you:

  • Let’s say that in the last EMCM, our People Team provided a refresher on our compensation strategy. During the breakout sessions, we each practiced explaining it to each other. We drew on the experience of our peers by discussing common questions team members ask about compensation. 

  • If you haven’t held a compensation discussion in a while, you can sign up for the next monthly Compensation Conversations session of Outstanding Manager Bootcamp. There, our People Team equips you to hold clear conversations about compensation increases by surfacing best practices and holding space for discussion and roleplay.

  • After you’ve had a chance to plan your discussion with your team member, you can bring your script to your EM Circle to practice it with your peers from around the company. You’ll get feedback on how your messaging could be more impactful.

These conversations and programs ensure that you’re grounded in a values-aligned approach to discussing compensation, and well prepared by incorporating the experience of our EM community.

Grow as an Engineering Manager at Asana

Looking to grow your management skills in a supportive environment? Have experiences and perspectives you could weave into our community? We’re currently hiring Engineering Managers for a variety of teams. Check out our open positions and apply today.

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