Mentoring is a relational process where an individual with a substantial amount of experience, and often higher seniority, assists in the professional development of a protege by providing psychosocial support, career-related support and role modeling. As a result of mentoring, proteges often experience positive work attitudes and an increased chance of career success. Research has shown that informal mentoring relationships have significantly better benefits than a formal mentoring program, which is likely the result of mutual identification and shared interests between the mentor and protege. Yet, corporations often implement a formal mentoring program to assist in assimilating new employees, identify potential management talent, and the development of new personnel.
The researchers also set out to examine internal locus-of-control (LOC), or a personality trait that describes ones perceived ability to influence outcomes. Individuals with a higher LOC tend to pursue career goals with persistence and dedication, even when faced with obstacles. These individuals are more likely to seek out opportunities to help them to develop themselves. Therefore, it is assumed that these individuals are more likely to embrace their mentoring relationships and utilize them for advice and as a role model. It is this dedication that may encourage the mentor to provide his/her protege with more development opportunities.
The researchers collected data from a large utility organization with over 9,000 employees in China. The company was state-owned and controlled by a board of directors, instead of the Chinese government. Lifetime employment was not offered at this company. Participants were mentors and proteges that were participating in a two year formal mentoring program designed to assist new employees in learning the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in their career. While all new hires were required to participate in this program, mentors were volunteers with an acceptable level of technical skills (as identified in their performance evaluation). Proteges were matched to mentors based on their career goals, concerns and preferences. Each couple met at least 30 minutes each week.
Surveys were administered to both mentors and proteges via office mail. The survey taken by mentors assess the mentors affect-based trust and cognition-based trust. Proteges took a survey that assessed LOC, mentoring received and relationship information. A total of 140 mentor-protege dyads were included in the final sample.
Source: Wang S., Tomlinson E.C., Noe R.A. (2010). The role of mentor trust and protégé internal locus of control in formal mentoring relationships. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95 (2), 358-67.