I/O Psychology – Supporting your mentors benefits the protégés
One thing we like to talk about in IO psychology is the importance of perceived organizational support (POS). POS has been linked to all sorts of outcomes, such as better task performance and increased helping behaviors. In a recent study, Changya Hu and her colleagues applied POS to mentoring relationships in a Taiwanese sample.
Hu correctly predicted that mentors’ POS would be related to the extent to which they exhibited mentoring behaviors; the greater the mentors’ POS, the more mentoring functions they provided, and that in turn partially predicted protégés’ POS. The personality of the mentor also played a part in this relationship. When mentors’ trait level of altruism was low, then their level of POS was important in predicting the extent of the mentoring functions provided. Mentors with greater levels of POS provided more mentoring functions. However, when their altruism was high, mentors provided about the same level of mentoring functions, regardless of their level of POS.
The results of this study indicate that mentors have the power to at least partially affect their protégés’ perceptions of the organization, so it’s important to increase mentors’ POS and boost the likelihood of them providing more mentoring functions to the protégé. In addition, organizations may want to consider selecting altruistic people to be mentors, as they are more likely to consistently provide more mentoring functions.
Mentoring has significant benefits for both mentors and protégés (IO Psychology)
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (NOV 2012)
Article: A longitudinal study of mentor and protégé outcomes in formal mentoring relationships
Authors: J. U. Chun, J. J. Sosik, & N. Y. Yun
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin
Do you have a formal mentoring program in your company? If so, you might want to take advantage of it – a recent study by Jae Chun and his colleagues found some pretty good benefits for both mentors and protégés!
The study’s authors tracked mentors and their protégés over the duration of a seven-month formal mentoring program and determined the effects of three mentoring functions: psychosocial support, role modeling, and career support. These mentoring functions had more effect on mentors than protégés. When mentors provided more career or psychosocial support to their protégés, the mentors had higher levels of organizational commitment. Mentors also showed enhanced transformational leadership when they provided more career support or role modeling, and they had greater affective well-being when they acted more as role models.
The authors also measured protégé outcomes. When mentors provided more career support, protégés had higher levels of affective well-being and organizational commitment.
This research suggests that formal mentoring programs have significant benefits for both mentors and protégés. The fact that mentors showed enhanced transformational leadership as a result of providing career support and acting as role models to protégés indicates that participating in a formal mentoring program could be one form of developing leaders. In addition, the more career support and role modeling the mentors provided, the more they developed as transformational leaders. It wasn’t sufficient to just provide some base level of support.
Providing the three mentoring functions assessed in this study led to positive outcomes for both mentors and protégés. Mentors had higher levels of organizational commitment, enhanced transformational leadership, and greater affective well-being. Protégés had higher levels of affective well-being and organizational commitment. Is that enough to make you consider participating in a mentoring program? I think it should be.
Chun, J. U., Sosik, J. J., & Yun, N. Y. (2012). A longitudinal study of mentor and protégé outcomes in formal mentoring relationships. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 1071-1094. doi: 10.1002/job.1781
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Do you learn more if you trust your mentor? (IO Psychology)
Topic: Mentoring, Learning
Publication: Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (AUG 2011)
Article: Trust as a moderator of the relationship between mentoring and knowledge transfer
Authors: Fleig-Palmer, M. M., & Schoorman, F. D.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin
Mentoring is widely considered to be an effective way of transferring knowledge and skills, but is it really effective? And does the protégé’s trust in the mentor affect how much the protégé learns? Fleig-Palmer and Schoorman (2011) conducted a survey in a health care organization to answer these questions.
Protégés rated their mentors on different mentoring functions, but the authors were interested in the extent to which the mentor provided informational functions (i.e., sponsorship, exposure and visibility, coaching, and challenging assignments) to the protégé. Protégés reported having acquired more new knowledge and skills when they rated their mentor higher on this informational mentoring variable.
The authors also found that the protégé’s trust in the mentor had a positive effect on the reported knowledge transfer, with protégés learning more when they trusted their mentors more. There was a significant interaction between the extent of mentoring and the amount of trust in the mentor on knowledge transfer, but the relationship was complicated and needs to be further studied. The authors found that trust made more of a difference in knowledge transfer when mentoring was low than when it was high.
These results suggest that more knowledge transfer occurs when the protégé receives more mentoring. They also suggest that trust is important to knowledge transfer, so building the protégé’s trust in the mentor will be beneficial when trying to increase knowledge transfer in a mentoring relationship.
Fleig-Palmer, M. M., & Schoorman, F. D. (2011). Trust as a moderator of the relationship between mentoring and knowledge transfer. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 18, 334-343. doi: 10.1177/1548051811408615
human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
If you’re a mentor, be sure to fulfill obligations
Topic: Mentoring, Human Resources
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (in press)
Article: Mentoring and psychological contract breach
Authors: Haggard, D. L.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin
Having a mentor can lead to many positive outcomes for the protégé, but what kinds of negative outcomes might a mentor cause? Haggard (in press) investigated the effect that mentoring breach (when the protégé perceives that the mentor has not fulfilled his or her obligations as a mentor) has on psychological contract breach (when an individual feels that the employer has not fulfilled its obligations). Psychological contract breach (PCB) is related to many negative outcomes, such as reduced organizational commitment, job satisfaction, in-role performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors.
Haggard found that protégé reports of mentoring breach were positively related to PCB. Additionally, PCB mediated the relationship between mentoring breach and job satisfaction, and the relationship between mentoring breach and job commitment. In other words, mentoring breach indirectly leads to outcomes through PCB. The relationship between mentoring breach and PCB was moderated by the supervisory nature of the relationship (i.e., the relationship was stronger when the mentor was the supervisor). The relationship was not moderated by the formality of the relationship.
These findings suggest that it would be advantageous for an organization to provide training for its mentors. Haggard suggests that training could be used to establish mentors’ obligations and the boundaries to those obligations, explain the consequences of mentoring breach, and teach supervisors how their actions may be perceived by subordinates. This training ideally would be provided to all supervisors, as some may not realize that they are informal mentors.
human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Bad mentoring relationships: Should I stay or should I go?
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (DEC 2010)
Article:What keeps people in mentoring relationships when bad things happen? A field study from the protégé’s perspective.
Authors: H. G. Burk, and L. T. Eby
Reviewed by: Charleen Maher
We know that mentoring provides both mentors and protégés with benefits such as greater job satisfaction, greater organizational commitment, and lower turnover intentions. But the fact is, not all mentoring relationships run smoothly. So, why would someone stay in a mentoring relationship even when things go wrong?
Burk and Eby (2010) note that negative mentoring relationships can include general dysfunctionality, mismatch between the mentor and protégé, manipulative behavior, distancing behavior, and lack of mentor experience (e.g., the mentor lacks interpersonal or job-related skills). When it comes to negative mentoring relationships, this study suggests that when protégés experience general dysfunctionality, lack of mentor expertise, or mismatch within the dyad, they are more likely to leave their mentor. In some negative mentoring relationships, intentions to leave may decrease if the protégé believes that he/she has few mentoring alternatives or if he/she is afraid that the mentor will retaliate.
Organizations can take this research into consideration when designing formal mentoring programs. Specifically, mentoring programs can provide back-up mentors so that protégés don’t feel trapped in dysfunctional relationships. Formal mentoring programs can also build accountability systems and safe exit strategies if the relationship doesn’t work out.
Can I Get You a Cup of Coffee, Boss? Landing a Job after an Internship
Topic: Selection, Recruiting, Mentoring
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (OCT 2010)
Article: Internship: A Recruitment and Selection Perspective
Authors: H. Zhao, R. C. Liden
Reviewed by: Holly Engler
Looking for a job? Internships are a great way to gain practical experience before entering the workforce, post graduation. In fact, many companies including J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs’ report that nearly 89% of new hires were previous interns. So, it is reasonable to assume that an internship opportunity is the guaranteed gateway to getting hired? Not quite. Until now, however, little research has studied how interns can obtain job offers or how host organizations can convince interns to stick around.
Hao Zhao and Robert Liden investigated how interns and organizations, both, use impression management (IM) techniques to satisfy recruitment goals. Individuals perform IM through self promotion techniques (pointing out strengths to appear competent), or through ingratiation (engaging in flattering behaviors to increase likeability). The students wish to make an impression on the organization in hopes of receiving a job offer. Organizations perform IM through supervisory mentoring, listening to interns’ creativity, and demonstrating the ability to grow within the organization – in hopes of expressing that they are a desirable workplace.
Zhao and Liden proposed two main ideas: (a) Interns seeking a job are more likely to perform IM, and (b) organizations are more likely to perform IM if they intend to make job offers.
Liberty, Justice, and…an Equal Chance at a Promotion for All?
We’re constantly hearing about the advances that organizations are making in corporate gender diversity. Women are being promoted, paid well, and mentored in the workplace! Right? According to Ibarra, Carter, and Silva (2010), the answer might be closer to “yes and no.”
In a corporate climate in which women’s progression to the upper tiers of management is the current “hot topic” in diversity, it would seem that mentoring programs might just be the solution. Pairing high potential women with executive mentors, it would appear, would lead to promotions. The authors argue, though, that it’s the quality of the mentoring that really matters here – and not all mentoring is created equal. There’s actually a special type of mentoring, called sponsorship, that makes all the different in those promotions to upper-level roles.
Sponsorship is important in that the mentor is not just providing feedback for the mentee, but is goes above and beyond to use his or her influence; in sponsorship, the mentor advocates with senior executives on behalf of the mentee.
Feedback as the Driver of Successful Mentoring Relationships
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior
Article: Protégé anxiety attachment and feedback in mentoring relationships (APR 2010)
Author: T. D. Allen, K. M. Shockley, L. Poteat
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague
Many organizations have systems in place to help new hires transition smoothly into the workplace. This process is called socialization. One technique that has garnered increased attention and proven successful is mentoring. This process partners new hires (protégés) with experienced employees (mentors) who guide them through their transition to becoming full contributors to the organization.
A recent study by Allen, Shockley, and Poteat (2010) sought to investigate the feedback process in mentor-protégé relationships and the impact that feedback has on performance; particularly with regard to individuals exhibiting anxious attachment styles. Anxious attachment is one dimension used to describe bonds formed by (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) in which individuals are “preoccupied with thoughts about relationships and the need for approval” (Allen, Shockly, & Poteat, 2010, p. 74). These individuals typically have a more negative view of themselves and desire to protect themselves from failure and rejection.
Results show that protégés exhibiting anxious attachment engaged in less feedback seeking and were less likely to accept the feedback offered to them by mentors. Additionally, protégé feedback acceptance was linked to more frequent (and better quality) feedback from the mentor.
Mentoring: A Win-Win-Win Situation
Topic: Mentoring, Job Performance
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (DEC 2009)
Article: What can I gain as a mentor? The effect of mentoring on the job performance and social status of mentors in China
Authors: D. Liu, J. Liu, H.K. Kwan, and Y. Mao
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
Generally, mentoring relationships are intended to develop younger and/or less experienced employees. However, research has shown that mentoring relationships benefit mentors as well as their protégés. In a recent investigation, Liu and colleagues (2009) found that mentoring relationships relate favorably to mentors’ job performance ratings and social status within the organization.
Using a large sample of mentors from a Chinese manufacturing firm, Liu et al. found that mentors who engage in more mentoring activities tend to have higher job performance ratings. This relationship appears to be due the increased learning opportunities made available to mentors through the mentoring process. Thus, mentoring activities offer mentors additional opportunities to learn which may influence their job performance.
Additionally, mentors who engage in more mentoring activities tend to have higher social status (as rated by their supervisors). Importantly, mentors who engage in more mentoring activities report better social interaction with others in the workplace, which relates directly to the social status of the mentor.
Based on Liu et al.’s findings, organizations can be confident that formal mentoring relationships benefit both mentors and protégés. Organizational mentoring programs appear to be win-win-win situations as they help develop less-seasoned employees, improve the job performance and social status of experienced mentors, and ultimately contribute to organizational effectiveness.
Liu, D., Liu, J., Kwan, H.K., & Mao, Y. (2009). What can I gain as a mentor? The effect of mentoring on the job performance and social status of mentors in China. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 82, 871-895.
Devoted Mentor or DeMENTORvated?
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior
Article: Formal mentoring programs: the relationship of program design and support to mentors’ perceptions of benefits and costs.
For those of you out there who may be in the middle of designing mentoring programs (or for those protégés who are curious about how their assigned mentor might feel about being a mentor), this one’s for YOU. Parise and Forret (2008) investigated how the design of a mentoring program and management support affect the way mentors perceive the plusses and minuses of playing the mentoring role.
“How could my mentor ever view developing my future as a negative” you say? Newsflash, hot shot: even though you might think of yourself as the most fabulous protégé who ever walked the planet, there are other factors in the mix here.
In terms of program design, the authors found that mentors who volunteered in a mentoring program were more likely to perceive the mentoring experience as rewarding and beneficial to them (and less likely to think of the experience as a hassle).
Do you have the suspicion that mentors who have more input regarding their protégé match are more likely to show favoritism and therefore be more likely to lead to nepotism?
If so, calm those inklings down, because this research shows they might be inaccurate. In fact, Parise and Forret found that greater input into the matching process is actually likely to lead to less nepotism. Surprise, surprise. How does the degree to which the mentoring program offers effective training for its mentors play out?
The researchers found that mentors who perceived their training to be effective were more likely to feel as though they were influencing future generations. So, offering mentors good training beforehand seems pretty valuable in that regard.
OK already. We’ve talked about program design, but how does management support come into the picture?
Higher management support was found to be related to greater recognition and higher reports of mentoring being a rewarding experience. Additionally, higher management support was also associated with lower reports that a weak or underperforming protégé was reflecting poorly on the mentor. It was also interesting to see that mentors were less likely to feel as though they were influencing future generations when management support was high (perhaps the mentors are catering to the management’s requirements rather than their own self-interests in these cases).
Allowing for voluntary participation, inviting input during the matching process, offering effective training and providing management support are important things to consider while thinking about how mentors may view their mentorship program.
Sounds simple enough, right? Just think about how much more complex things get when you add the perceptions of the protégé into the mix. Exciting stuff, huh?
Parise, M.R., Forret, M.L. (2008). Formal mentoring programs: the relationship of program design and support to mentors’ perceptions of benefits and costs. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72 (225-240).