By Karen Keene
As the unemployment rate continues to drop, companies are developing innovative strategies to attract and retain top talent. There are a number of factors for employers to consider such as flex time, virtual teams, on-site daycare, and company-paid health and wellness programs. Equally important are employee’s values, which look quite different today than just five years ago. Take for example the dynamics of a multi-generational office environment. In 2015, Millennials surpassed Gen-Xers and the Baby Boomers to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to the Pew Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data.
Millennials prefer to invest in organizations where they can make a difference and they want to be recognized for it. Fostering an environment of appreciation and recognition engages employees and creates loyalty. Millennials seek collaborative work cultures as opposed to those that are competitive in nature. More importantly, they are looking for a boss who is less of a “supervisor” and more of a coach or mentor. With this core set of values in mind, we can expect to see increasing trends among companies to utilize internal and external mentoring programs as a tool for accelerating performance.
Mentoring comes at various levels and at different stages in a person’s career. Gone are the days where executives designed mentorships solely as a “top-down” strategy. The most effective organizations are those who cultivate a mix of programs including reverse mentoring and virtual mentoring. It’s a great opportunity to encourage open dialogue among multi-generations to learn from one another. Older workers benefit by learning new technologies and social media skills from their younger mentors. And global companies are more cohesive working both up and down the chain of relationships and leadership channels.
The most encouraging news is that women’s mentoring programs are on the rise in the U.S. and our community. We have a variety of resources right here in central Florida. One in which I’m most passionate is called ATHENA NextGen – designed as a collaborative forum for up & coming career women to enhance their leadership skills.
ATHENA NextGen was created in Orlando to give women a place to come together and learn from one another, lift each other up and tear down the walls of competition. The curriculum is based on the extraordinary work of ATHENA International founder, Martha Mayhood Mertz, a successful entrepreneur and business leader who authored a book about the unique characteristics of women leaders entitled, Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership.
It was through extensive years of research that Mertz pioneered The ATHENA Leadership Model®, developed through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Mertz identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership. “The companies that create more gender balance at the top see better results in terms of increased revenue and strategic growth”, says Mertz. “ATHENA’s Leadership Model puts the training programs in place to prepare for this new paradigm attuned to the needs of a changing world.”
ATHENA NextGen hosts eight monthly sessions at UCF’s Executive Development Center in downtown Orlando. Discussions are facilitated by prominent women leaders who are at the top of their game. Imagine receiving pearls of wisdom from Sandy Hostetter, Diana Bolivar, Kimberly Maki and Annetta Wilson, all in an interactive “Master’s Class” setting. These dynamic women ignite meaningful conversations that take participants on a deeper dive along their mentoring journey.
Please visit our Website at www.athenaleadershiporlando.com to learn about how to apply. We’re accepting applications for ATHENA NextGen through Friday, March 25, 2016.
About the Author:
Karen Keene is the President of ATHENA Orlando Women’s Leadership, Inc., the umbrella organization of the Women’s Leadership Luncheon, ATHENA NextGen, and the $100,000 endowed scholarship at UCF. Karen co-founded ATHENAPowerLink Central Florida in 2005, a program dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs elevate business growth and profitability. She is the Florida representative on the ATHENA International Board of Directors.