Mentoring in the Workplace

Executive Summary Some major business executives may say that earlier in their career they established a mentor relationship that helped them to get to where they are in their career. Research has shown that this statement can be true for some executives but not for all. Some experts believe that just having mentor relationships can or cannot affect someone’s career path and development. The purpose of this paper is to explain exactly what mentoring is and how it successful works within the workplace environment.

Using support from various scholarly articles, I was able to discuss define the concept of mentoring and how it relates within the workplace setting. Using this concept, I establish the role of the mentor and mentee in regards to the mentor relationship, and explain how their roles have an impact on the outcome of the relationships itself. Within this paper you are introduced to the dynamics that are involved when actually establishing a mentoring program within an organization. I also discuss in detail the two different types of mentoring relationships and their affect on the workplace.

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In addition to the types of mentor relationships discussion, the influence of mentoring relationships on career success and corporate culture is revealed. This paper also expresses the difficulties that minorities and women have when it comes to them establishing mentor relationships within their own workplaces. Finally, I give my own personal insight as to how an effective mentoring program is established and maintained by using the mentoring program that my company has established since its 30 years of being in existence. Mentoring in the Workplace

Within the past thirty years, the concept of mentoring has progressed into a career enhancement tool for many in the workplace. The concept dates back all the way to Ancient Greek times with King Odysseus when he appointed an advisor to look after his son while he was away (Hegstad, 1999, p. 383). The role of a mentor has not changed much since then, but has now transformed the role of executives in the workplace. There are varying opinions when it comes to discussing how successful mentoring is within the work environment. The concept of mentoring is defined differently among various workplaces.

The mentor and mentee each play a different role and each have goals they would like to accomplish from the mentoring relationship. Often time women and minorities find it difficult to gain the appropriate mentoring relationships. Mentoring in the workplace is multifaceted because it depends on the individuals involved as well as the organization. The Mentor and Mentee The definition of a mentor depends on the person, but the Webster dictionary defines mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide,” while it defines mentee as “one who is being mentored. Each word together establishes the concept of mentoring. The roles of mentor and mentee differ but they each have a common goal they would like to achieve. Within the workplace, mentors are there to support up and coming professionals by sharing their own knowledge and experiences with these professionals. Mentors are supposed to be role models and be able to provide psychological support (Janasz, Sullivan, & Whiting, 2003, p. 83). When beginning a mentoring relationship a mentor must first complete a “personal inventory and assess their current skills set” (Moore, Miller, Pitchford & Jeng, 2008, p. 9). Mentors must understand and identify with themselves fully before they decide to make a commitment to begin a mentoring relationship. According to Hegstand (1999), within the workplace a mentor is someone that is there to assist a person with their career development as a supporter or advocate (p. 384). A mentor is there as a guide and not as someone that is there to make the decision for a person’s career. Before a mentoring relationship is established the mentee and mentor have to determine what particular goals they would like to achieve.

Mentees should set expectations for their mentors but be realistic with them and also be appreciative of their time and resources. Communication is key at the beginning of the relationship, mentees have to express to their mentors their “needs, future goals, and the kind of help they want from the mentoring relationship” (Moore, Miller, Pitchford & Jeng 2008, p. 78). Mentees should not be consumed with having the perfect mentor, but should use their energy to invest in the mentoring relationship, and give it time to grow and develop where trust and respect are one in the same (Janasz, Sullivan, & Whiting, 2003, p. 4). Mentors and mentees should establish a structure to their relationship in order for both parties to achieve something out of it. Establishment of Mentoring Relationships When a company establishes a corporate mentoring program there are some factors that have to be considered. There has to be an understanding of the “organizational dynamics,” and use these dynamics to create strategy, process, and programs for the mentoring relationships (Friday & Friday, 2002, p. 54) The purpose of having a strategy for corporate mentoring is to have it align with the objectives and long term goals of the organization. Without an efficient strategy in place there cannot be a process or programs established. Once a mentoring program is established, the organization should decide what type of mentoring relationship they want to institute. There are two types of mentoring relationships, informal and formal. An informal mentoring relationship is one that is not created directly by the organization but is created spontaneously through like interests or ideas.

While a formal mentoring relationship is one that created and managed by an organization (Hagstad, 1999, p. 384). Formal mentoring relationships usually involve a “seasoned” individual mentor and a mentee (Friday & Friday, 2002, p. 155). Informal and formal mentoring relationships each have aspects that make them different from one another. Informal mentor relationships often times have organizational support where events are planned to create connections and time is given during work hours for mentor activities.

Informal mentor relationships are easier to establish because they are more natural, but can damage goals of diversity within an organization because most people will select individuals that look and have characteristics like themselves (Friday & Friday, 2002, p. 156). Formal mentor relationships can have drawbacks as well because it “imposes structures on the mentoring process” (Harshman and Rudin, 2001, p. 136). Formal mentor relationships are those that are more likely used within the workplace, they often times are created to match individuals based on career plans and goals.

Race and education background should be a taken into consideration when establishing a mentor relationship because it gives each person the opportunity to be able to have a balanced and comfortable relationship (Janasz, Sullivan, & Whiting, 2003, p. 87). When mentor relationships are created within the workplace they have the opportunity to develop and change over time. Mentoring and Career Success There is no direct research that states that having a mentor relationship will increase a person’s career success.

Although, mentoring within the workplace does not predict job tenure, it does distinguish those who are interested in moving up the career ladder achieving their own career success (Harris, Winskowski, & Engdahl, 2007, p. 154). But research completed by Hegstad (1999), stated that “two thirds of 1,250 of top executives had mentors early” (p. 383). According to Jansnz, Sullivan, and Whiting (2003), individuals who have mentors are more likely to have a high job satisfaction, earn substantially higher salaries, and have a greater organization commitment.

Also, career benefits that mentees can receive from mentor relationships are those that improve identity and communication (p. 78). Within the workplace, mentoring assists in recruitment and retention of employees. And it also gives employees the sense that they are being actively involved in their organization outside of just having a job there (Friday & Friday, 2002, p. 154). Many organizations have begun to invest in formal mentoring programs because they assist with management training tools and career development (Hegstad, 1999, p. 83). Based on the person, mentoring relationships may have a significant impact on ones career success. Organizations are investing time and energy to making sure that mentoring within the workplace is successful for both the mentor and the mentee, and having that success overflow into the work environment. Minorities and Gender When it comes to establishing mentor relationships within the workplace, women and minorities find it more difficult to find a mentor that relates to their own individual backgrounds and gender.

Mentor relationships should not just be relationships that are relatable just based on the workplace, but should be one where experiences can be shared. When a mentor shares the same common racial identity it is an added benefit for the mentee because they are able to share experiences that each can relate to such as with stereotypes (Moore, Miller, Pitchford, & Jeng, 2008, p. 80). Women also it find it difficult to acquire women executives because only about one percent of women hold executive positions in the 1,000 largest firms in the United States (Harshman and Rudin, 2001, p. 82). With this lack of women in executive positions it often times is hard for women mentees to find women mentors. When a mentor of a different race has to develop a mentor relationship this called a cross-race mentoring relationship (Moore, Miller, Pitchford, & Jeng, 2008, p. 81). Taking the time and effort to learn more about the each person the individual’s culture will not only develop the relationship between the mentor and mentee, but it will help with challenges that may arise during the mentor relationship.

Even though race and gender should not and does not always determine the success of the mentor relationship it is one aspect that can possibly affect the relationship in a good or bad way. Corporate Culture Based on how a mentoring program is established within an organization, it will determine the impact on the workplace as a whole. When a mentor program is effective it should be an advantage to the corporate culture because it should complement initiatives and objectives that are set forth within the workplace (Friday & Friday, 2002, p. 152).

When a mentoring program is created it should have goals established, and these goals should be able to be accomplished and have the outcomes influence the corporate culture. Mentoring programs should be customized for each department within the organization to meet their own particular needs (Friday & Friday, 2002, p. 156). Within my own individual company a mentoring program was established at the start of the company which was almost 30 years ago, and since then the program has become a crucial part of our corporate culture. The program is designed to assist the development of staff and seniors consultants within the company.

Each consultant is assigned a mentor when they first begin a career at my company and this consultant is assigned to a supervisor or manager. Each month the consultant and mentor go out to lunch and during this lunch everything from work to personal items are discussed. This discussion is to stay between and the mentor and mentee, unless the mentee gives approval for an outside party to know. The mentor listens and offers their perspective to the consultant. Also, the mentor might bring up issues that maybe going on within the workplace and discuss it with consultant.

To the consultant their assigned mentor is their advocate and support system, either for themselves personally or career wise. My company prides itself on the mentoring program they have created and finds it as a resourceful way to help with the career development of consultants. The program is structured to help consultants become familiar with the culture of the company making them feel as though they are taking a part in the growth of the company. A mentoring program’s influence on the corporate culture is an important factor when discussing mentoring within the workplace.

Conclusion When an organization decides that they want to create a mentoring program they should understand its purpose and create the program based on the objectives of the organization. Not all mentoring programs should be designed the same because they will each yield different results. The affect that mentoring can have within the workplace depends on the mentor and mentee. Their actions dictate what type of outcome will occur from the relationship either negative or positive. Research has shown that mentoring can either damage or enhance career development within the workplace.

Employees have to take advantage of the benefits of mentoring in order for it to be beneficial to their careers. The type of mentor relationship also is another factor that can determine with the outcome of the relationship. Informal and formal mentor relationships have different structures, but they equally are effective depending on the individuals. The mentor and mentee relationship varies within different industries and even within genders and race. Depending on the industry, mentor relationships are more important and beneficial to have.

The career path of a person within the workplace depends on many factors, and establishing mentor relationships early can give someone an added bonus boost to achieve those career goals. References Friday, Earnest, & Friday, Shawnita (2002). Formal mentoring: is there strategic fit?. Management Decision. 40, 152-157. Harris, Irene, Winskowski, A. M. , & Engdahl, B. E. (2007). Types of workplace social support in the prediction of job satisfaction. The Career Development Quarterly. 56, 150-156. Harshman, Ellen, & Rudin, Joel (2001). Corporate mentoring programs: legal landmines?.

Journal of Employment Discrimination Law. 2, 135-140. Hegstad, Christine D. (1999). Formal mentoring as a strategy for human resource development and review of research. Human Resource Development Quarterly. 10, 383-390. Janasz, Suzanne, Sullivan, S. E. , & Whiting, V (2003). Mentor networks and career success: lessons for turbulent times. Academy of Management Executives. 17, 78-91. Moore, Alana A. , Miller, M. M. , Pitchford, V. J. , & Jeng, L. H. (2008). Mentoring in the millennium: new views, climate and actions. New Library World, 109, 75-86. Webster Dictionary (Online) Retrieved February 5, 2009.

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