Importance and Impacts of Mentoring
In the present paper, the impact of mentoring on students and employees has been investigated. It has been hypothesized that mentoring positively impacts their overall well-being if provided considering the specific conditions of mentees. Development Mentoring is an approach to school-based mentoring in which high school students work with junior elementary school mentees. Rhodes (2002) stated that around 50 percent peer-mentoring meetings end within initial three months. However, there is a lack of research conducted on premature meetings termination and mentors' absenteeism. Karcher study, though, makes a significant contribution to the literature does not answer the reasons for differential outcomes. Rhodes' research study can be considered an improvement over Karcher in this regard. The study observed that there is some difference in baseline relationships between youths with teachers, peers, and parents. These differences explain why some adolescents are more likely to benefit from the guidance of volunteer mentoring. Studies have also mentioned the greater impact of academic skills trainers than social skills teacher on identity development, identity, and self-esteem. A significant contribution of mentoring literature is Kwoh's research that highlights the effects of reverse mentoring in diversity training and knowledge transfer between Millenials and Boomers. Succinctly, there is no doubt about the positive impact of mentoring on mentees, organizations, and mentors themselves. The point to note is: mentoring may be not easy and smooth process always, and there may be interruptions and issues while developing a relationship. Race, gender, time, and age are some these hiccups that the literature has outlined.
With growing competition in education and professional lives, students and employees may feel frustration, and lack of motivation at some point of time. A supportive guidance from elderly and experienced people may help them hold the right track without losing the morale.
Complex situations and dynamic settings have increased the importance of mentoring in recent years. Mentoring, a process in which a mature person counsels and guides the needy in supportive and caring manner, has shown to achieve positive outcomes for students. Studies have revealed that mentoring leads to better educational performance and reduces school dropouts, in the long run. At the same time, it helps employees grow faster in the organizational ladder. Scholars have identified that an effective mentoring may increase self-esteem, motivation, encouragement, work performance, and help the organizations manage generational diversity in a better way. At the same time, it helps students to connect positively with peers, parents, and teachers thereby improving their educational and social skills. However, there are some factors that may act as barriers in the process. For instance, if the time duration is too short, it may not yield desired outcomes. Likewise, standard mentoring models may not always be helpful for aggressive children.
In the present paper, the impact of mentoring on students and employees has been investigated. A wide range of literature has been reviewed to assess the factors facilitating or hampering the mentoring process. It has been hypothesized that mentoring positively impacts their overall well-being if provided considering the specific conditions of mentees. The following literature reviews attempt to support the hypothesis.
An article by Michael J. Karcher (2005) mentions a dyadic relationship between a mentee and a mentor who provides the required guidance, care, and attention over an extended period. Among best practices of mentoring approach is the development mentoring that promotes connectedness, self-esteem, academic attitudes and identity in mentees: “In developmental mentoring, mentors are trained and supervised by school staff or university student coordinators” (Karcher, 2005, p. 65).
Development Mentoring is an approach to school-based mentoring in which high school students work with junior elementary school mentees. The author has identified a positive linkage between mentoring and students' connectedness to teachers, peers, and parents: “The content of the mentoring curricula and the mentor training in developmental mentoring reflects the primary goal of promoting youths’ connectedness to school and connectedness to their parents” (Karcher, 2005, p. 66).
Connectedness reflects students' activities with and affection for the people. Various research studies have found a positive linkage between low connectedness and depression, underachievement, performance, and alienation of students from peers, teachers and parents( Bonny). By contrast, high connectedness fosters identity development, social skills, and school behavior. As such, the study affirms the hypothesis by presenting a mediating variable, connectedness.
Critics have, however, argued that adolescents may not be mature to mentor their juniors efficiently: “One criticism of cross-age mentoring in schools is that adolescent mentors may not be mature enough to be consistently present or sufficiently attentive to their mentees” (Karcher, 2005, p. 66).
Rhodes( 2002) stated that around 50 percent peer-mentoring meetings end within initial three months. However, there is a lack of research conducted on premature meetings termination and mentors' absenteeism. Other studies have also highlighted that school-based mentoring has a limited duration of usually 6-9 months. It is likely to have a smaller mentoring impact, compared to community agencies.
Studies have also mentioned the greater impact of academic skills trainers than social skills teacher on identity development, identity, and self-esteem, since: “Children’s IQ and basic academic skills have been found to predict achievement in the early primary grades”. However, the fundamental behind this impact is the time spent by academic skills trainer, which is almost thrice the social skills training time.
Karcher study tested three main hypotheses relating peer mentoring and connectedness, First is, if youths randomly assigned to mentoring programs report a significant impact in connectedness. Second, the impact of change brought out by mentors' attendance or mentees' participation. Lastly, mediating processes that may contribute to self-esteem and other factors.
The results of the study highlighted an overall positive impact of development mentoring on connectedness, but found little support for mediation model. It was found that the mentor attendance was more related to changes in social skills than mentee attendance.
Karcher study, though, makes a significant contribution to the literature does not answer the reasons for differential outcomes. Rhodes' research study, conducted in 2011, can be considered an improvement over Karcher in this regard. The study observed that there is some difference in baseline relationships between youths with teachers, peers, and parents. These differences explain why some adolescents are more likely to benefit from the guidance of volunteer mentoring. The study categorized relationship profiles in three categories: 1) youths having struggling relationships with teachers and parents 2) those having moderate closeness with almost all people in life 3) youths having strong relationships with parents, and teachers. It has been identified that youths already having strong relationships could not gain significant benefits from mentoring programs. Moreover: “Recent studies suggest that mentoring can affect social skills, school behavior, and self-esteem as well as mentees’ connectedness to family and to school” (Karcher, 2005, p. 66).
Meta-analysis conducted by DuBois( 1997) stressed that the mentoring programs need to comprehensive, and multi-component to impact aggressive children. Youths who have challenging relationship histories can get more gains from intensive mentoring models, than standard mentoring programs. In this sense, the author presents children's aggressiveness as a disturbing variable that can reduce the efficiency of standard mentoring programs. It supports the hypotheses by asserting that there are exceptional cases when more intensive and customized mentoring models may be required. “Because of the importance attributed to relationship factors as moderators of program outcomes, supplementary analyses also are conducted of comparisons that have been made in several studies within the intervention group on the basis of relevant features or characteristics of the relationships formed between mentors and youth” (DuBois, 1997).
The rewards of mentoring, a paper by Patricia Green-Powell, describes the overall impact of mentors in professional development of young males and females. It helps them hone their communication and interaction in organizational settings. The paper highlights a positive impact of mentoring in educational settings and also at the workplace: “No matter where you are in your career, it is likely that you have had a mentor, whether a supervisor or more experienced coworker, or a professor or high school teacher, who has guided and encouraged you to follow your interests” (Powell, 2012, p. 99).
Mentoring programs help employees achieve a higher ladder in organizational settings by helping them to achieve independence in work roles and responsibilities, and optimizing their potential.
An increasing body of literature, as mentioned in the article, has stated that the absence of mentoring in youth may lead to neurotic fear and existential vacuum. It may be the reason that the concept of mentoring has grown colossally in last 20 years, yet the relation between mentor and mentee can be enigmatic and complex. Time period is an important factor that complicates the association. A mentor and mentee may have a relationship of ten years old during which their interaction may undergo multitudes of changes. For these reasons, it is important to focus on the functions that are fulfilled by mentoring.
The primary importance of mentoring lies in 1) providing emotional support and encouragement 2)guiding and teaching 3) practical help. Mentoring processes, natural as well as planned, help employees optimizing their performance levels and realizing the potential to the maximum.
The article is important as it highlights the importance of mentoring in professional lives, unlike Karcher and Rhodes works that have emphasized its impacts on students' lives. Mentoring has proved beneficial for the organizations because it fosters quality of performances and work-related initiatives. It helps people make feel good about themselves. As a corollary, they make a lasting impression on customers, which in turn, increases trust, loyalty and business growth: “From the legacy of famous mentoring relationships comes the sense of mentoring as a powerful emotional interaction between an older and younger person, a relationship in which the older member is trusted, loved and experienced in the guidance of the younger” (Powell, 2012, p. 100).
The studies, taken together, thus present a positive impact of mentoring on overall being of people and support the hypotheses. However, there are some works that have focused on underlying problematic issues. Davidson and Foster-Johnson(2001) have acknowledged that students need mentor who is proficient in particular skills required by mentees, irrespective of racial backgrounds. Formal and informal mentoring helps minority executives to adjust in complex and dynamic business environment, as per Konn Ferry International Study. However, the study has recommended adopting a multicultural competence to have mutually beneficial cross-race mentoring.
The issue of cross-race and same-race has also been tested in a research conducted on African Americans. These have exhibited a strong positive linkage between promotions, growth, and salary increases for employees who undergo mentoring. Around 69 percent of workers who had mentors received promotions, compared to 50 percent employees who did not have mentors.
However, scholars have a different opinion about racial dynamics in mentoring. Thomas's study of developmental relationship identified that cross-race mentoring offers less support than same-race mentoring. The study further revealed that it is better if African American employees forge relations with other employees African American employees to enhance representation in the management workforce in the organization.
A significant contribution in mentoring literature is of Jack Welch who introduced a new concept called reverse mentoring. There have been numerous studies on the impact of reverse mentoring on diversity handling. Most of the people understand the concept of diversity just in terms of gender, race and nationality. Diversity goes beyond these to involve generational differences. Mentoring, particularly reverse mentoring, helps in fostering positive attitude among employees and managing generational diversity.
Reverse mentoring is defined as a process in which young mentor share expertise with an older and senior colleague as the mentee. Jack Welch, has been credited to introduce the concept of reverse mentoring in 1999 to teach Internet to the elder generation. Since then, it has been used by large MNCs including Dell, and Time Warner to facilitate knowledge transfer across generations, and tap the potential of younger workforce.
Research conducted by Kwoh highlighted present day that organizations are developing a culture that pleases the younger generation; however, they are also trying to maintain harmony with Boomers. While Millenials bring creativity, fresh skills, and collaboration; Boomers bring experience, work ethics, and best practices.
While Millenials ask for fast promotions, flexible hours, and higher pay rates; Boomers get confused with the fast track success of the younger counterparts. Thus, reverse mentoring is the solution that can create connections among employees and manage generation diversity at the workplace.
Literature has also established positive impacts of mentoring process for youth at risk. With the help of efficient and comprehensive mentoring programs, they are likely to attend colleges and engage in productive and beneficial activities. The report stated that 67 percent at-risk youth with mentors were found to participate in extra-curricular activities, compared to only 37 percent youth with no mentors. However, the survey has also emphasized the value of time duration in mentoring programs. For instance, youth satisfaction was found to be doubled when comparing the relationships between less than and more than a year: “My mentor came into my life and provided structure, did things with me that my parents couldn’t. He took me out to play ball, just sat and talked” (Hart Research Associates, 2014, p. 22).
Longer mentoring programs and relationships fetch better outcomes than short duration mentoring relations, especially in areas of educational outcomes. Following is the data outcome of long term versus short term mentoring outcomes:
Sports participation( 77 percent vs. 70 percent)
Leadership positions( 61 percent vs. 50 percent)
Volunteering( 61 percent vs. 53 percent)
The report, differentiating between formal and informal mentoring programs, stated that formal and structured mentoring programs are beneficial to provide academic support including career selection, and getting into the college. By contrast, informal mentoring relationships develop the personality of mentees and help them make right decisions considering the circumstances. This mentoring type also educes motivation and encouragement among mentees. “Consequently, natural mentors may possess particular strengths allowing them to form a strong, close, and supportive bond with a young person because of shared cultural practices and understandings” (Hart Research Associates, 2014, p. 23).
Psychological evidences strongly assert that isolation effects can be drastic in children. The toxic stress, created specially by poverty, may hang on them in case they do not have a mature adult to make them feel safe and emotionally connected. The nation( America) is increasingly disconnected from friends, neighbors, and democratic structures. Mentoring can decrease the stressors and provide powerful networks to young people and adults. The report has established a connection between low-income children and mentoring stating that these children need quality time with caring adults and mentors.
A five-year study conducted in Canada revealed that children with mentors are more confident in behavior and exhibit fewer behavioral issues compared to counterparts with no mentors. Having undergone mentoring, girls were found four times less prone to become bullies and boys two times. The study also linked effective mentoring to low anxiety levels among students. A study conducted at North Carolina State University identified positive impacts of mentoring on disadvantaged groups, and it increased the school attendance twice: “It is important that the mentor fosters support for the youth, meets the youth’s expectations, places the needs of the youth first, honors the commitment to the relationship, commits to a collaborative rather than
prescriptive approach” (Hart Research Associates, 2014, p. 25) .
There is a good literature available on the impacts and importance of mentoring. Almost all studies are unanimous in identifying positive effects of mentoring on children, and adults as well. However, different studies have examined the impacts of various perspectives. For instance, Karcher research focused on connectedness as an important outcome of mentoring process. Connectedness, in turn, was found to reduce depression and improve social skills. However, the study did not focus on how mentoring outcomes may vary according to mentees' characteristics.
Rhodes study, done in 2002, can be considered an improvement in this sense. The study reflected that variations in outcomes may be due to relationship profiles among mentees. As such, children with already strong relations with their parents, and teachers may show less improvement in mentoring processes. The study, thus, has outlined an aspect that forms an important thread in understanding the mentoring impacts.
Succinctly, literature is unanimous about the positive impacts of mentoring on children, at-risk youth, disadvantaged group, and other children with particular difficulties. However, there is debate on time, efficacy, and race aspects.
Researchers are unsure if cross -race mentoring proves more beneficial than same-race mentoring. Likewise, they are not confident about short-duration mentoring processes. Some studies have reflected that only long-term mentoring proves effective. Peer-mentoring usually is of short-duration, and has casted doubts among researchers' minds.
A significant contribution of mentoring literature is Kwoh's research that highlights the effects of reverse mentoring in diversity training and knowledge transfer between Millenials and Boomers. Mentoring also brings results with a reverse process, young mentors and elder mentees. However, the maturity of young guides may be the question in reverse mentoring. Also, elder workforce may exhibit resistance to agreeing and follow the guidance of younger counterparts.
In short, these studies form a considerable literature for mentoring and put forward some important common themes that may be crucial to understanding the mentoring process. These themes can be summarized as:
1. Mentoring encourages and motivates children to optimize their potential.
2. Positive impacts are more visible in long-term mentoring than short-duration mentoring.
3. In some cases, same-race mentoring has been proved more efficient than cross-race mentoring; however, research does not affirm that.
4. Researchers are not sure if social skills mentoring is more useful than academic skills mentoring. In some cases, academic skills mentoring has been shown to improve more connectedness than social skill mentoring.
4. Reverse mentoring is one of the best practices for knowledge transfer across generations. Global organizations have practiced it since long.
The following table presents a comparative view of the studies used in the paper.
Succinctly, there is no doubt about the positive impact of mentoring on mentees, organizations, and mentors themselves. The point to note is: mentoring may be not be easy and smooth process always, and there may be interruptions and issues while developing a relationship. Race, gender, time, and age are some these hiccups that the literature has outlined. However, the effects of these factors are not confirmed by the studies conducted so far. Further research in these areas will highlight more important threads and help in improving the mentoring process to achieve more positive outcomes.
Coie, J., & Krehbiel, G. (1984). Effects of Academic Tutoring on the Social Status of Low Achieving, Socially Rejected Children. Child Development , 1465-1478.
Davidson, & Foster-Johnson, J. (2001). Mentoring is the Prepapration of Graduate Researches of Color. Review of Educational Research , 549-574.
DuBois, D., Holloway, B., & Valentine, J. (1997). Youth Mentoring: Investigation of Relationship Characetristics and Percieved Benefits. Journal of Community Psychology , 291-332.
Hart Research Associates. (2014). The Mentoring Effect: Young People's Prespective on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. Civic Enterprise, Hart Research Associates.
Karcher, M. J. (2005). The Effects of Developmental Mentoring And High School Mentors' Attendance on Their Younger Mentees' Self-Esteem, Social Skills, and Connectedness. Psychology in the Schools .
Powell, P. G. (2012). The Rewards of Mentoring. US-China Education Review , 99-106.
Rhodes, J. (2002). Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Thomas, D. (1999). The Impact of Race on Managers' Experience of Developmental Relationships. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.