I/O Psychology – Supporting your mentors benefits the protégés

Topic(s): mentoring
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (2013)
Article: When mentors feel supported: Relationships with mentoring functions and protégés’ perceived organizational support
Authors: Hu, C., Wang, S., Yang, C.-C., & Wu, T.-Y.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

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.