If you’re a mentor, be sure to fulfill obligations

Topic(s): mentoring

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.

Haggard, D. L. (in press). Mentoring and psychological contract breach, Journal of Business and Psychology. doi: 10.1007/s10869-011-9237-2

human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management