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The implementation of formal mentoring programmes, whereby the organization formally encourages and facilitates mentor-protege relationships, is a relatively recent phenomenon in organizations. Mentors are advisers, counselling their proteges (sometimes called advisees or mentees) on work, career, and personal matters. The purpose of this paper is to provide some background of the benefits of mentoring for the protege, the mentor, and the organization and to discuss some important issues to consider when implementing a formal mentoring programme. In addition, examples of how these issues have been addressed are provided based on interviews with managers from five organizations.
Although much mentoring occurs informally, managers in many organizations are attempting to formalize the process, with the goal of providing mentoring to more than just a lucky few. In an attempt to understand better the issues that arise during the development and implementation of a formal mentoring programme, we conducted interviews with representatives from Hallmark Cards Inc., Texaco Trading and Transportation, Imperial Oil Limited, Shell Oil Company, and a Fortune 500 computer company (anonymous). An interview (ranging in length from one-half hour to two hours) was carried out with one manager from each of these organizations who was involved in the development and implementation of their organization's mentoring programme. The managers interviewed (four females and one male) all worked in the human resources function, and were located in either training and development or executive development departments.
Who benefits from mentoring?
Having a mentor is considered to be very beneficial for proteges, as numerous studies have found the receipt of mentoring to be related to the promotion rate, compensation, career opportunities, recognition, and satisfaction of proteges (e.g. Dreher and Ash, 1990; Fagenson, 1989; Scandura, 1992; Whitely et al., 1991). Moreover, mentoring is considered especially valuable for women and minorities as an additional tool to use to help chip away at the glass ceiling.
According to Kram in her 1985 book, Mentoring at Work (Kram, 1985), mentors provide proteges with both career functions and psycho-social functions. Career functions help the protege advance in the organization and include providing sponsorship, exposure-and-visibility, coaching, protection and challenging work assignments to the protege. Psycho-social functions, on the other hand, serve to increase the competence, effectiveness, and work-role identity of the …