Authors: Tammy D. Allen, Mark L. Poteet, Susan  M. Burroughs

Why does an individual choose to engage in a mentoring relationship?

Allen, Poteet & Burroughs examine the mentoring perspective from the mentor’s point of view, as opposed to the more popular research that focuses solely on mentee benefits.  It has held true that mentors who engage in mentoring activities report a greater willingness and enthusiasm to mentor others.  Organizations that hope to facilitate a mentoring environment with employees that may not be as intrinsically motivated should initiate reward systems and restructure the organizational culture to reflect mentoring as a priority.

A mentor will most often calculate their own cost-benefit analysis regarding their time and whether or not it is in their best interest to participate in a mentoring program.  Mentors have cited they are more attracted to lower-level managers with advancement potential, capability, willing to learn, and who are enjoyable to be around.  Additionally, mentors are more likely to commit to a mentoring relationship when a mentee is a high performer versus a moderate performer.

Mentees are not the only members of the relationship to receive benefits.  In fact, mentoring lays groundwork advancement for mentors’s career enhancement, intelligence, advisory roles and psychic reward.  Mentors gain esteem among their peers and superiors alike.  Internally, mentors state benefits range from personal satisfaction, improved job performance, loyalty from mentees and organizational recognition.

27 employees from 5 different organizations who have mentored others  participated in a semi-structured interview based on a comprehensive review of past mentoring literature.

25 participants (92%) indicated they had been mentored by another individual during their own career, with an average reporting of 4.28 (from 0-5, on a 6-point Likert scale) to the extent to which their most recent mentor positively influenced their own professional development.

17 participants (68%) stated their experience as a mentee influenced their decision to mentor others.

In regards to how mentoring relationships were founded: 3 participants (11.5%) stated their mentoring relationships began with mentee approaching them; 5 participants (19.2%) stated they initiated the mentoring relationship by approaching the mentee; 18 participants (69.2%) stated there was a mixed approach (circumstances where they were first approached and circumstances where they first approached).

The top 3 results for mentee’s individuals reasons for mentoring: Desire to pass information on to others; Desire to build a compete workforce; and a tie between General desire to help others and Gratification with seeing others succeed and grow.

The top 2 organizational factors that Facilitate Mentoring: Organizational support for employee learning and development; Company training programs.

The top 2 organizational factors that Inhibit Mentoring: Time and work demands; Organizational structure.

Top 3 results of “Protege Attraciveness”: Openness and willingness to learn; a tie between A reflection of self in protege and High capacity/ability; Strong work ethic.

Top 3 results for benefits of mentoring: Satisfaction in seeing others grow and succeed; Developing close relationships/friendships; Increase in mentor’s own learning/knowledge.

Agenda for future research includes: Individual Reasons for Mentoring Others, Organizational Factors Related to Mentoring Others, Protege Attractiveness Factors, and Outcomes of Mentoring Others.

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