Devoted Mentor or DeMENTORvated?

Topic(s): mentoring

Topic: Mentoring
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior
Article: Formal mentoring programs: the relationship of program design and support to mentors’ perceptions of benefits and costs.
Blogger: LitDigger

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).