Not surprisingly, employees who develop strong ties with their mentors tend to gain more job knowledge, have greater access to important information, and gain more overall career assistance.
Sounds simple right? Unfortunately, it’s not! It goes without saying that employees can differ substantially in their personalities And it is conceivable that certain personality traits lead employees toward strong, close ties with their mentors while others do not.
Wu, Foo, and Turban (2008) set out to investigate the role of several important personality traits (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness) on mentor relationship closeness and ultimately career success. So the question is: Are certain employees inherently more likely to develop close ties with their mentors and reap the rewards of that relationship?
Wu and colleagues confirmed that employees who have close relationships with their mentors maintain high levels of contact with their mentors and ultimately receive more assistance from their mentors. More importantly, perhaps, these close ties do seem to have important implications for employees’ careers.
Wu et al. also found that employees who are more extraverted (outgoing, social), conscientious (reliable, achievement oriented), and agreeable (cooperative, trusting of others) tend to form closer ties with their mentors and thus are more likely to reap the career benefits of the relationship. Additionally, certain personality traits had direct relationships with career success. For instance, extraverted employees tend to be more satisfied with their careers whereas neurotic (poor emotion control, frequent anxiety experiences) employees tend to not only be less satisfied with their careers but also tend to have fewer promotions (Ouch!).
Wu and colleagues’ findings have several important practical implications. For instance, organizations with formal mentoring programs should encourage mentors and protégés to develop close relationships with each other (It’s not just a formality!). Organizational members who take mentoring relationships seriously can ultimately have more successful careers.
These findings also suggest that organizations may need to identify and help develop those employees who may be at risk of not forming close ties with their organizational mentors.