Behavioural indicators of effective and ineffective mentoring: An empirical study of mentor and protégé behaviour within a UK public sector organisation.
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AbstractMost mentoring research has investigated the antecedents, outcomes and benefits of mentoring and also the characteristics of mentors and mentees, but little attention has been given to the quality of the mentoring process or the effectiveness of mentoring relationships (Fagenon-Eland et al, 1997; Young and Perrewé, 2007). Yet for formal work-based mentoring programmes it is important to identify what differentiates ‘more effective’ from ‘less effective’ mentoring relationships (Ragins et al, 2000, Wanberg et al, 2007), particularly the behaviours of mentors and mentees that contribute to both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ mentoring experiences (Eby et al, 2000; Bozeman and Feeney, 2007). This study investigated the mentoring component of a leadership development programme within a major UK public sector organization in order to identify the behavioural criteria of mentoring effectiveness from both the mentor and mentee perspective. Concrete examples of ‘effective’ and ‘ineffective’ mentor and mentee behaviours as observed respectively by mentees and external mentors were collected using the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan (1954). These were analysed, reduced and classified using content and thematic analytic methods. From 167 usable critical incidents so obtained 187 discrete items of behaviour were identified. Of these 81 related to positive (effective) and 22 to negative (ineffective) mentor behaviour and 68 to positive (effective) and 16 to negative (ineffective) mentee behaviour. These were then grouped and classified into analytic categories which resulted in 11 positive and 4 negative mentor behavioural categories (criteria) and 9 positive and 3 negative mentee behavioural categories (criteria) being identified. The results lend support to Kram’s (1985) ‘two-function’ model of mentoring and to the recent emergent concepts of ‘negative’ and ‘marginal’ mentoring (Eby, et al, 2000; Eby and McManus, 2004). They also provide further empirical insights for HRD practitioners concerned with developing guidelines and interventions to enhance the effectiveness of formal mentoring programmes. This study is an inquiry into organizationally based formal mentoring relationships in which the mentors have been drawn from other organizations (Young and Perrewé, 2000). It has been located in both the ‘mentoring’, ‘coaching’ and ‘human resource development (HRD)’literatures for two main reasons. Firstly, although various writers claim ‘mentoring’ is different from ‘coaching’ (Cranwell-Ward, Bossons and Gover, 2004; Grant, 2001), the terms ‘mentoring’ and ‘coaching’ are often used interchangeably in many organizations with many people unable to make a clear distinction between them (D’Abate, Eddy and Tannenbaum, 2003; Klasen and Clutterbuck, 2002). The second reason is that for several decades coaching, mentoring and other forms of workplace learning have been core roles of HRD professionals (See Davis, Naughton and Rothwell, 2004; Hezlett and Gibson, 2005; Plunkett and Egan, 2004). Furthermore, increasingly, mentoring has been recognized as a powerful HRD intervention that assists employers in career advancement, serves as a form of on-the-job-training, and helps create learning organizations (Hegstad and Wentling , 2005).
CitationIn: Proceedings of the UFHRD Ninth International Conference on Human Resource Development Research and Practice Across Europe: May 21-23, 2008 (Ref. 6.01), Lille, France: IESEG School of Management.
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