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May 27, 2019 42 min

What does it look like to create a work environment where employees can succeed and thrive? Are there steps you can take as a leader to encourage and support your team members in a meaningful way? Here to help us understand what makes Asana a, “Top 5 Best Place to Work” is my guest, Scott Carleton.

Scott is currently the Site Lead of Asana’s NYC office, dedicated to enabling all teams to collaborate effortlessly. Previously, Scott was the VP of Technology at Andela, empowering engineering talent across Africa. Scott co-founded Artsicle as CTO, building a global community of visual artists now featuring over 6000 creators in 100 countries. His work on Artsicle's discovery engine, which was able to create a personalized experience for passive users, earned NYER's "Best Use of Technology" award in 2013. Scott also built the first internal engineering team at Teachers Pay Teachers from 0 to 12, while integrating a high functioning remote team.

In our conversation, Scott talks about his journey to management, lessons he has learned along the way, the value of transparency, why an empowering work environment is so important and much more. You’ll need pen and paper for this one - Scott has a ton of helpful insights to share.

Outline of This Episode
  • [0:40] I welcome my guest, Scott Carleton.
  • [2:00] Scott talks about his background.
  • [4:30] How did Scott get started on the management track?
  • [6:25] Scott reflects on early mistakes he made as a manager.
  • [9:00] The value of transparency.
  • [10:40] Tips for new managers.
  • [13:30] What does Scott’s day-to-day role look like as a Site Lead for Asana?
  • [17:30] Navigating company culture in a distributed environment.
  • [22:30] What makes Asana a Top 5 Best Place to Work?
  • [27:00] Empowering employees and providing growth opportunities.
  • [31:00] What does it take to be a top-notch engineering manager?
  • [34:00] Using Slack the most effective way possible.
  • [37:00] How to set your team up for success in your absence.
  • [40:45] Book recommendations from Scott.
  • The value of transparency

    Throughout your career, are there any values or principles that stand out to you as “Must-haves” to create an empowering work environment? Maybe for you, it’s integrity or competency. For Scott Carleton and the folks at Asana, one of the top values is transparency.

    Transparency is crucial, especially for a distributed company like Asana. Scott says that the value of transparency is constantly top-of-mind for him as he engages with his team and works to build consistency and collaboration at Asana. Hand-in-hand with transparency is Scott’s goal to make as much of their processes and systems as clear and understandable as possible. While this is no easy task, Scott is proud of the ground they’ve been able to cover thus far.

    How to empower your team members

    Any good manager worth their salt focuses not only on their team members’ productivity but also looks for ways to encourage and empower them as individuals. Can you think of a manager who has empowered you at critical moments in your career? What did they do that made their efforts stand out?

    From his time at Andela, Scott learned the value of providing his team members with applicable growth opportunities - not just any growth opportunity but - applicable ones. The difference here is key - while it might be a good experience for someone on your team to level up on JavaScript - if it doesn’t apply to the work they are currently engaged in it’s not really that helpful. How do you empower your team members? What growth opportunities do you provide them?

    Creating a healthy work environment

    At some point in their career - just about everyone encounters a dysfunctional and unhealthy work environment. How can leaders like you ensure that the environment you are building is a healthy and empowering one?

    One of the primary reasons Scott joined Asana is their relentless commitment to organizational health. They’ve created clear and concise pathways that encourage their managers and team members to reflect on and learn from projects that were successful and unsuccessful. It is of paramount importance to Asana as an organization that everyone understands how their tasks directly contribute to the overall mission of the company. To hear more about how this plays out at Asana - from Scott’s perspective - make sure to listen to this episode of Simple Leadership.

    What it takes to be an effective manager

    Let’s face it; life as a manager is not for the faint of heart. Yes, you get a lot of great opportunities to influence your team and make great strides for your organization, but there is also a fair share of challenges and obstacles that come with the territory. How do you navigate those challenges and serve as an effective manager?

    According to Scott Carleton, if you want to succeed as a manager, you’ve got to be willing to give your people honest feedback that helps them improve. We’ve all been in those one-on-one’s where the feedback you received was not helpful or constructive - don’t make that same mistake! Scott also points to the value of knowing your limitations and a willingness to be vulnerable as key aspects of an effective manager. Ask for help and be open about the challenges you are facing - what do you have to lose?

    Remember - this is only a snapshot of my conversation with Scott - make sure to listen to this episode of Simple Leadership to get the FULL conversation.

    Resources & People Mentioned
  • BOOK: The Advantage
  • BOOK: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • BOOK: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • BOOK: The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
  • Andela
  • Asana
  • Connect with Scott Carleton
  • Scott on LinkedIn
  • Scott on Twitter
  • Scotter[at]
  • Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership
  • Christian on LinkedIn
  • Christian on Twitter: @CMcCarrick

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