One second a day: My first 30 days at Asana

July 16th, 2019
4 min read
One second a day: My first 30 days at Asana article banner image

When I started my role as an Engineering Manager at Asana just a few months ago, it was clear to me that Asana creates a truly memorable onboarding experience.

In their book, Moments, Chip and Dan Heath share that there are ingredients to creating special and memorable moments in our lives:

  • Connection: Moments of connection bond us together

  • Elevation: Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the routine

  • Pride: Moments of pride commemorate people’s achievements

  • Insight: Moments of insight deliver realizations and transformations

In my first 30 days at Asana, I felt a strong connection to my fellow teammates, regardless of tenure or department; an excitement that was more than just a new day-to-day; pride in the company I was joining; and learnings about myself and my work.

In the spirit of the Moments framework, I thought it would be fun to share my most memorable moments from onboarding at Asana by recording one second a day for my first 30 days. Check out my video below, and how each of these important ingredients manifest at Asana!

30 Days in 30 Seconds

Throughout my career, job transitions have been big moments in my life (my last two also involved moving to a whole new city!). They’ve also all been immensely exciting – the anticipation of starting a new chapter, digging into new challenges and building new relationships along the way. At the same time, it can also be difficult to start over in a new place. I was in my last role for over four years, and I went from having lots of historical context, to being the new kid on the block. It’s tough to feel like you’re not useful on your own yet, constantly asking people for help and where to find information.

As a new hire, you’re excited, but vulnerable, and onboarding can have a tremendous impact on helping you feel like you’re a part of the team. If done well, it should help you gain context, build relationships, and hopefully, confirm you made the right choice.

*Note: The astute among you might have noticed the video is only 22 seconds rather than 30. I didn’t work weekends, and I was out of the office for one day :) 

4 ingredients for a memorable onboarding experience

1. Connection

I’ve been in many onboarding sessions that start off with simple roundtable introductions where everyone just shares their name and team. On the one hand I appreciate the repetition since I definitely didn’t learn everyone’s name that first time, but after the fifth onboarding session it does get a bit boring. 

That’s why I loved when I walked into an onboarding session about the Asana Brand. It wasn’t the same old “introduce yourself”; instead, each person was asked to share their name as well as their favorite brand. We kicked off the session hearing a story from everyone about a brand that was meaningful to them. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the room felt more engaged and people asked more questions during the session! The opportunity to share during introductions helped the room build connection before we dove into learning content together.

Another connection moment I appreciated was my first Random 1:1. As a new hire, while you get a lot of guidance getting to know your immediate team, it can be hard to connect with other employees across the company. Asana solves this with Random 1:1s, an automated project (in Asana!) where you can add your name and get matched to meet with another participating Asana, at whatever cadence you’d like. My first match was a product manager, Thi, who introduced me to Stonemill Matcha (now my favorite “coffee” meetup spot near the office!) After our conversation, Thi organized a lunch to introduce me to another Asana he thought I’d enjoy meeting – the gift that keeps on giving!

2. Elevation

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In my third week, I walked into one of our dining areas, Cafe Luna, and experienced  dramatic music and a spread of creative dishes and decorations. Our Culinary team had gone all out in celebrating the new season of Game of Thrones. There were “John Snow Peas”, “Kal Drogurt” (yogurt), “Sansa’s lemon cakes”, dragon eggs made of chocolate, and the best “Pop Tarts” I’ve tasted in my life with dragon fruit filling (I still dream about them occasionally). 

Was this specifically for onboarding? No of course not, but that’s in part why I love it. Sometimes the best onboarding is to simply experience the real thing!

3. Pride

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In my third and fourth weeks, I changed desks to be a part of a regular Engineering Bootcamp where I dove into Asana’s technical stack, built my first end-to-end feature, and met engineers from across the team. We celebrated “graduating” from Engineering Bootcamp with a picnic in Dolores park and that in itself would have been a good experience. 

However, one of the bootcamp mentors, Hahnbi, made our mini graduation even more special by finding something specific to say about each bootcamp graduate. Yes it was a bit cheesy – but there’s something warm and genuine about the time it took to figure out what unique thing each bootcamper was adding to the team and finding a way to articulate it to everyone.

In addition to the larger milestones, we also celebrated tiny moments. My teammate Joshua celebrated my first pull request after I added him as a reviewer. Another Engineering Manager, Greg Sabo, slacked me some feedback on how I was asking questions.

4. Insight

In my first 1:1 with my manager, Cliff Chang, he said “I told the team why I am excited for you to join” and then proceeded to list the reasons. I blushed and immediately felt incredible gratitude. I hadn’t realized how worried I was about what value I’d be able to add to the team until he went out and shared with confidence where he saw me impacting the team.

When you’re new, it’s easy to forget that your company hired you for a reason – they have confidence in the impact that you’ll have. I think one of the most powerful insights you can share with a new hire is: this is why we hired you.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that one reason this transition was challenging for me is I went from a place where I had a lot of historical context, in a role operating at my full velocity and confident in my ability to add value to the team, to being dropped into a new environment. I was so unsure of my own ability to be useful. Having Cliff remind me of my value gave me the support and confidence to start taking action on small ideas even while I was still learning. I realized no one is waiting for me to fail – they are waiting for me to succeed.

From ingredients to experience

As a manager I am always looking out for what creates memorable experiences because I want to be able to help create those for my team — both memorable achievement milestones as well as powerful learning moments. 

I hope I’ve given you a sense of what onboarding at Asana feels like. The ingredients won’t be the same for everyone; different moments of onboarding are going stick out to different people.

If you want to come make memories in an enriching workplace environment, we’re hiring – check out our open roles!

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