I want to interact, collaborate, and build relationships with a dynamic network of peers, leaders, mentors, coaches, and sponsors.
By Lauren Noël and Christie Hunter Arscott
“One of the things that I like about HubSpot is that the company is built as a community for the people who work here,” explained Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of marketing at HubSpot.
The early career women we spoke with were looking for multiple points of connection: with peers, senior leaders, mentors, coaches, sponsors and more.
This desire for networks, collaboration, and a flat culture presents a necessary shift in thinking for leaders, said A.P. Moller Maersk’s Ricardo Sookdeo: “Millennials are less focused on hierarchy and are much more networked and collaborative. The traditional hierarchical structure will be challenged. The key question for companies is how do we co-lead in a networked leadership system, versus the traditional hierarchy model, in the future?” Here’s how your company can rise to this challenge:
ENABLE HIGH FLYING WOMEN TO CONNECT WITH DYNAMIC PEERS
“At HubSpot, my peers are outstanding. For me, that’s motivating. I’m always thinking, ‘I need to be as good as them.’ Having that peer group of high achieving women is even more powerful than having people above me pave the way for me,” said HubSpot’s Meghan Keaney Anderson.
Anderson explains that she sees this dynamic in the more junior levels as well: “I watch the women on my team keeping track of what their peers are doing and being fascinated with breakout projects. I think that tension of knowing you’re in a cohort of people who are incredibly talented will naturally progress you to be better.”
This sense of peer camaraderie and healthy competition is built by senior leaders. “HubSpot’s senior leaders see themselves as architects of teams,” explained Maggie Georgieva. For example, the company’s employees go through a semi-random seat shuffle every three months to enable employees to meet new people.
FACILITATE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN JUNIOR WOMEN AND SENIOR LEADERS
As one executive said, “There is a tremendous sense of isolation for women. We need to create opportunities for them to meet one another.” Many of the companies we spoke with are launching initiatives that link senior women to next generation women leaders.
Some companies are using technology to connect senior leaders with junior women. For example, Fidelity has a national women’s networking group and participants are able to dial in, watch speakers on Fidelity TV, and ask questions live. HubSpot uses the app 15Five, which allows people to highlight achievements and challenges to their managers. The app is available to any company worldwide. How it works is team members take 15 minutes each week to answer a few questions, such as ‘What challenges are you facing?’, or ‘Where are you stuck?’ Then, managers take about 5 minutes to review and respond. Sharing achievements, challenges, and ideas each week gives employees a voice and increases productivity by keeping team members updated. “What I like about 15Five is that you don’t have to constantly meet with your manager but they are in the loop of what you are doing. The other good thing is that you can see your peers’ wins and challenges. Sometimes we see a trend and can talk about it,” says Maggie Georgieva.
Executives at HubSpot also stay connected to employees because rather than having permanent desks, they sit at “nomad tables” throughout the HubSpot office. The nomad tables are intentionally positioned in the center of big rooms where there’s a constant flow of people.
While this sense of connection is important to all talent – male and female alike – women face unique obstacles to networking and finding mentors and sponsors. Organizations can help close the connectivity gap between women and men by supporting early career women in their efforts to build a dynamic network and meaningful connections. The women we interviewed want more than just a job—they want a community that inspires them, including engaged peers and visible senior leaders who push them to be their best.