Shannon Newton

Hey Technology, I’m New Here

January 24, 2019

This year, my career took a rather large pivot when I  joined the team at Stable Kernel as People Operations Manager. My background in education didn’t require adoption of many tech skills, aside from utilizing Google Suite for curriculum planning and creating presentations. Honestly, I spent many years avoiding ways to incorporate technology into my work and personal life. I really enjoyed a more analog way of doing things- creating to do list on paper, utilizing a planner, and writing and sketching my lesson plans on paper before finalizing them in a Google docs template. In a way, I thought this made my life more simple and easier to manage my task, goals, and responsibilities in all aspects of my life. Little did I know, there are so many tools out there that can help you achieve so much more.

I’m sure you can imagine the imposter syndrome I felt with my aversion to technology as I began working at an app development company. Luckily at Stable Kernel, I’ve found an overwhelming amount support for the simplest of technology tasks – such as how the heck to work an external monitor! One of our onboarding practices sets each new colleague up with a Welcome Buddy. This individual helps introduce you to and navigate our commonly used tools such as Confluence, JIRA, and Slack while also showing you how to connect to conference room tvs and how to work the intimidating espresso machine. Because of this support, my appreciation for technology began to grow. I found technology was helping me save time and resources, stay more organized, and bring good design into our company’s value initiatives. As a recent convert, I’d love to recommend some of my new favorite tools.

Even before my first day, I was introduced to our HR system, Gusto. With Gusto, employees are able to access  all of our “paperwork.” This system makes onboarding, payroll, benefits, time off, and employee information easily accessible. It has a calendar integration with Google that reminds us when our colleagues are out of the office, celebrating a birthday, and coming up on their work anniversary. It even helps us track each person’s favorite snack food! Not only is Gusto super intuitive and user-friendly, it is also playful. It shares fun curiosities and facts on the site and in emails. Plus, there is a monthly survey for employees that allows our company to get a temperature check on our people. Without this tool, we would spend a lot more time and resources maintaining our HR records.

Another tool I was introduced to in my first days was Trello. Trello now takes the place of my analog to do list and I love utilizing the “Done” column so I can have that gratifying feeling of checking something off my list. I maintain many Trello boards to organize my workflow and tasks. My main board documents current projects, future projects, and my daily, monthly, and bi-monthly tasks. Under each card, which contains the description of the project, you can create a checklist, add attachments, set due dates, and so much more. Utilizing this tool has helped me prioritize my time, improve my work flow, and easily collaborate with team members.

Part of my role at Stable Kernel involves creating curriculum that allows us to focus and practice our company’s core values- Integrity, always; R.E.S.P.E.C.T; We learn, we share; and We stay hungry. While writing curriculum is second nature to me; finding ways to bring the curriculum to others through technology has been a new challenge. I’ve embraced a few tools for this initiative and they work together beautifully.

I began by outlining our program in a Trello board,  allowing me to organize our content and figure out what tools we’d need to incorporate.

Knowing we wanted to launch the initiative in a digital format, we chose to design our program packet with Canva, an easy, user-friendly design tool that allows for unique customization of their templates. From there, we were able to utilize this template for the first quarter calendar of events, provocations, and our sky squid squad kits, posting each new piece in a dedicated channel in slack, our #1 communication tool.

In order to inspire deep levels of thinking around our values, we launched interactive provocations around different aspects of our values. We’ve used Typeform to integrate create playful questionnaires and quizzes right in our Canva designs… The Typeform responses are directed to a google sheet where I’m able to easily analyze the collected data.

My five months at Stable Kernel have opened me up to a world of new and useful tools, and I have my colleagues to thank for helping me successfully adopt them. My feelings of imposter syndrome have slowly melted away as I’ve continued to practice becoming better with new types of technology and I now look forward to finding even more intuitive and helpful tech tools to enhance my organizational, creative, and productive skill sets.

Published January 24, 2019
Shannon Newton

People Operations Manager at Stable Kernel


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