Why It Is Important For Mentors to Fulfill Obligations

Topic(s): mentoring
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology
Article: Mentoring and psychological contract breach
Authors: D.L. Haggard
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 (2012) 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, job performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors (or going beyond the call of duty).


Haggard found that protégé reports of mentoring breach were related to PCB. Additionally, PCB mediated (or explained) the relationship between mentoring breach and job satisfaction, and the relationship between mentoring breach and job commitment. In other words, mentoring breaches indirectly lead to negative workplace outcomes. Additionally, the relationship between mentoring breaches and PCB was stronger when the mentor was also the employee’s supervisor. On the other hand, the formality of the relationship between the employee and the mentor did not appear to make a difference.


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. (2012). Mentoring and psychological contract breach, Journal of Business and Psychology, 27, 161-175.

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