Excerpt from Ch. 27: The Landscape of Mentoring in the 21st Century
The Handbook of Mentoring at Work: Theory, Research, and Practice
Belle Rose Ragins
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Kathy E. Kram
Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore
Copyright © 2007 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The Landscape of Mentoring in the 21st Century
Kathy E. Kram Belle Rose Ragins
As the authors in this volume have consistently demonstrated, the garden of mentoring has evolved over the past 25 years, and the landscape of our discipline will be quite different in the 21st century. Through our research and practice, we have uncovered new explanations for why some relation- ships continue to grow and flourish, while others become stagnant or dysfunctional. Our vision of mentoring has expanded with the emergence of new forms and hybrids—such as peer mentoring, cross-gender mentoring, cross-cultural mentoring, mentoring circles, and e-mentoring. Our conception of mentoring has evolved from an acknowledgement of “constellations of relationships” to an emphasis on “developmental networks.” Equally important, the work in this volume highlights how environmental conditions that surround mentoring— globalization, increasingly diverse workforces, flattened hierarchies, team-based organizations, new technologies, and a persistently rapid pace of change—influence the nature and potential of mentoring at work.
In this chapter, our aim is to highlight the most critical elements of the new land- scape of mentoring so that scholars and practitioners can work together to create the conditions for mentoring to flourish in all of its forms. We begin with an examination of the new paradigms that have emerged in the mentoring arena. We offer several insights into these newly defined forms of mentoring and crystallize the subtle yet important factors that distinguish their quality and purpose. Then, we highlight several new approaches for illuminating the root causes and broadened outcomes of these new forms so that we can deepen our understanding of the nuances in quality, process, and outcomes of developmental relationships. We then examine the role of context in the development and maintenance of mentoring relationships. Finally, we highlight the practical implications for fostering growth-enhancing relationships in organizations and make suggestions for moving forward with the research agenda that emerges from the collective wisdom developed in this volume.
Paradigm Shifts: Understanding Variations In Relational Structures And Processes
In contrast to the early work on mentoring, we now have several new paradigms for describing mentoring relationships and processes that more fully account for variations in their purpose, structure, and quality. In this section, we discuss three primary paradigm shifts that have influenced the mentoring arena. First, and perhaps most dramatic, is the acknowledgment that mentoring occurs within the con- text of developmental networks (Higgins, 2007; Higgins & Kram, 2001; Higgins & Thomas, 2001; Molloy, 2005). Second, there is increasing recognition of the dyadic and reciprocal nature of mentoring relationships and the critical role that mutuality and reciprocity play in relationship structure, processes, learning, and outcomes (see Allen, Chapter 5; Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15, Lankau & Scandura, Chapter 4; Russell & McManus, Chapter 11). Third, we now recognize that mentoring relationships fall along a continuum of quality, and we have made important inroads into understanding when and why relationships are of high quality, marginal quality, or even dysfunctional (see Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15; Eby, Chapter 13; see also Ragins & Verbos, 2007). This has led to important new ways for viewing mentoring relationships at the level of single interactions or mentoring episodes that may combine to create relationships that reflect various levels of quality.
Although Kram (1985) observed early on that individuals actually have a constellation of developmental relationships, it was not until social network theory was brought to the study of mentoring that we had a language and method for describing and understanding these multiple sources of support (Higgins & Kram, 2001; Higgins & Thomas, 2001; Thomas & Higgins, 1996). This social network perspective provides an important framework for understanding the dimensions of developmental networks, such as the range of sources from which individuals receive developmental help and the emotional closeness and frequency of communication in these relationships. This paradigm shift allows us to more accurately describe multiple sources of developmental support and detail the cumulative impact of developmental networks on outcomes such as satisfaction, personal and task learning, and career advancement (Higgins & Kram, 2001).
This paradigm shift calls for further inquiry into how individuals’ needs, group memberships, and relational skills shape the types of relationships they invite into mentoring relationships that invites scholars to observe the strategic and routine communications that transpire as relationships begin and unfold over time. In identifying a number of personal filters that both mentors and protégés bring to these developmental relationships and categories for describing various types of communication, Kalbfleisch predicts that these combine to produce dynamics that may require relational repair. Her methodological suggestions regarding how to study relationship processes combined with episodes as a unit of analysis will enable scholars to better describe and calibrate relationship quality. While much work remains to be done on understanding the antecedents, processes, and outcomes associated with the continuum of relational quality, we have made important inroads and have new conceptual perspectives and tools for approaching this area of research.
In sum, the chapters in this volume illustrate that we have moved forward from the study of a single mentoring relationship to the study of a range of relationships that offer developmental assistance at various points in individuals’ lives and careers. The garden of mentoring has been enriched by paradigm shifts, and our field is now poised to illuminate and understand the structure, process, and quality of mentoring using the concepts of developmental networks, mentoring episodes, “tipping points,” relationship continuums, mutuality, and reciprocity. Let us now turn to examining some of the key antecedents to effective mentoring that were revealed in this volume.
The Roots of Differences in Relational Quality and Processes
During the last two decades of research in the field of mentoring, we have made great strides in uncovering the root causes of differences in the quality and dynamics of developmental relationships. Many of the authors in this text have charted promising new paths for understanding antecedents to effective mentoring and the role these factors play in shaping the development and evolution of mentoring relationships. Some of the key factors identified here include personality, develop- mental needs and stages, and a range of skills and competencies relating to emotional intelligence, relational skills, compassion, and the ability to understand and grow from work-family and diversity challenges.
In many ways, personality represents the foundational bedrock of effective mentoring relationships. In their chapter on the role of personality in mentoring, Dan Turban and Felissa Lee (Chapter 2) examine which personality traits are most likely to impact mentoring and explore how the mentor’s and the protégé’s personality characteristics combine to influence effectiveness at various phases of the relationship. Turban and Lee examine the role of personality in partner selection and offer the idea that complementary personality profiles may be critical predictors of effective mentoring relationships.
A number of personality factors are presented as worthy of future research. Turban and Lee urge us to assess the five-factor model of personality (conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and neuroticism), as well as other individual difference variables, such as perspective taking, empathic concern, learning goal orientations, and emotional stability. They point out that these traits will have differential impact on the formation, cultivation, and dissolution of mentoring relationships. Consistent with Monica Higgins, Dawn Chandler, and Kathy Kram’s (Chapter 14) idea of developmental initiation, Turban and Lee predict that extraversion, being open to new ideas, and a learning goal orientation are traits that may explain why some individuals will find mentoring relationships more readily than others.
Personality emerged as a theme in other chapters as well. Georgia Chao (Chapter 7) suggests that personality may interact with mentoring to influence experiences of organizational socialization. Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy (Chapter 12) observe that personality characteristics may distinguish those who embrace electronic mentoring from those who do not. Finally, if researchers discover that complementarity of personality profiles among mentors and protégés predicts relationship quality, then this factor should be used when selecting and matching members of formal mentoring relationships (see Blake-Beard, O’Neill, & McGowan, Chapter 25).
Developmental Needs and Stages
Individual differences in stages of development may serve as an important antecedent to effective mentoring relationships. Using adult development theory (Kegan, 1982, 1991), McGowan, Stone, and Kegan (Chapter 16) propose that men- tors at the “interpersonal stage” of development can serve protégés only in certain ways: providing direction, coaching, and advice. Due to their developmental stage, these mentors are not yet able to encourage autonomy or to nurture creative thinking if it departs from what they believe is the correct way to proceed. For protégés who have progressed beyond this interpersonal stage, this type of inflexible mentoring is likely to result in disillusionment and frustration. In contrast, mentors and protégés who are in complementary stages of development may experience heightened states of growth and effectiveness in their relationships.
Mentoring relationships may also be influenced by members’ career stages. Through systematically outlining the challenges that individuals face in the exploration, trial, establishment, and mastery stages of a career learning cycles, Hall and Chandler (Chapter 19) illustrate which mentoring functions are likely to be most effective when protégés are at particular stages in their career learning cycles. They suggest that some relationships may start to hinder future learning and growth if the protégé’s needs at a particular point in the learning cycle are not met. Similarly, they point out that mentors at certain stages of development may be less able to provide needed mentoring. For example, a mentor entering a new learning cycle in his or her own career may be unable to assist a protégé who is striving to move into a new learning cycle at the same time. This offers a compelling reason to see developmental networks, made up of a diverse group of developers, as essential to individual learning and development. When individuals have diverse developmental networks, they can enlist help from others and will therefore be less vulnerable to a particular mentor’s limited ability to provide the help needed at a critical juncture in a career learning cycle.
Skills and Competencies Relational Competencies
A number of relational skills and competencies serve as antecedents and, as we will discover later, outcomes of effective mentoring relationships. In his chapter on emotional intelligence, Cherniss (Chapter 17) demonstrates that that an individual’s capacity to form positive, safe relationships seems to be strongly influenced by his or her ability to manage the anxiety, uncertainty, and increasing intimacy of a mentoring relationship. In addition, mentors frequently utilize emotional processes to help their protégés become more adept at managing emotion in their work and careers. In this regard, mentors serve as emotional role models for their protégés. Finally, protégés’ and mentors’ self-awareness, empathy, and social skills will affect what actually transpires in their developmental relationships, thus having a direct impact on the quality of the relationships.
Relational skills also play a key role in the development of high-quality mentoring relationships. Fletcher and Ragins (Chapter 15) identify a range of relational skills, conditions, and stances that serve as “prerequisites” for relational mentoring, such as vulnerability, empathetic and emotional competence, fluid expertise, authenticity, and holistic thinking. Applying this to practice, Cynthia McCauley and Victoria Guthrie (Chapter 23) point to the need for research that illuminates the specific relational competencies needed to become effective coaches, leaders, and learning partners. This has important practical implications not only for leadership development programs but also for the selection and training of participants in formal mentoring programs.
A final set of relational competencies involves the skill set necessary to initiate effective mentoring relationships. Higgins, Chandler, and Kram (Chapter 14) introduce of the concept of developmental initiation—that set of skills and behaviors that enable protégés to build their development networks. Without these development- seeking behaviors, they argue, developmental networks are likely to be less helpful because they lack a range of relationships reflecting network diversity. These authors suggest a number of interesting potential antecedents to developmental initiation, such as protégé socioeconomic status, gender, nationality, and age. We note here that this construct may be very useful in distinguishing important differences in the pat- terns of mentoring relationships and networks. In fact, building on these ideas, Chandler recently developed the construct of “relational savvy,” which is the set of attitudes, behaviors, and skills necessary to both initiate and sustain effective developmental relationships (Chandler, 2006).
Since there is considerable conceptual overlap among these relational skills and competencies, empirical research is needed to delineate the root causes of differences in relationship quality and outcomes attributed to various combinations of skills and competencies. In addition, we need to examine the “tipping point” in these competencies that moves mentoring relationships from adequate to exceptional.
In looking at the role of relationships in fostering personal change, Richard Boyatzis (Chapter 18) crystallizes yet another competence that may be critical to significant personal learning and growth outcomes in mentoring relationships. He calls our attention to the mentor’s capacity for compassion and how the ability to empathize, express caring, and act in response to another’s feelings distinguishes relationships that serve individuals’ personal development from those that serve instrumental outcomes related only to performance and promotion. As discussed later, compassion may also be an outcome of effective mentoring; individuals who bring compassion to their relationship may experience a deepening of that competence as the relationship evolves over time.
Jeffrey Greenhaus and Romila Singh (Chapter 21) identify a new type of competence that reflects mentors’ ability to help their protégés effectively manage work-family conflict. This competence involves the mentor’s awareness of work-life issues, a willingness to share his or her own experiences with work-life conflict, and a nonjudgmental approach that facilitates protégés’ self-awareness and ability to obtain congruence across life domains. By introducing a work-family lens to the mentoring arena, Greenhaus and Singh urge us to consider a new skill set that underlies a mentor’s ability to help his or her protégé effectively manage role boundaries (Friedman & Greenhaus, 2000) and achieve states of work-life enrichment by leveraging resources in one domain to enhance performance and satisfaction in the other (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006; (Parasuraman & Greenhaus, 1997).
The chapter by Greenhaus and Singh offers a comprehensive model and a helpful list of propositions for future research on the effects of a work-family lens on protégé outcomes. Future research could also examine consequences from the men- tor’s side of the relationship. For example, it would be interesting to assess whether the process of helping protégés achieve work-life balance helps mentors reexamine and obtain more balance in their own lives; there may be a cyclical process in which the achievement of work-life balance in one partner changes norms and facilitates a spiraling process of reassessment that leads to more balance in the life of the other member of the relationship.
Gender and Race
Gender and race have long been acknowledged as important roots of differences in mentoring relationships (Collins, 1983; Kram, 1985; Ragins, 1989; Thomas, 1990). In this volume, Carol McKeen and Merridee Bujaki (Chapter 8) offer a comprehen- sive review of studies that have examined the influence of gender on protégés’ access to mentors, mentor behaviors, and outcomes of the relationship. Drawing on Wanberg, Welsh, and Hezlett’s (2003) conceptual process model of mentoring, McKeen and Bujaki highlight the way gender and the gender composition of the relationship influence outcomes across phases of the relationship. A core point revealed in their review is that research on the effects of gender on mentoring has produced inconsistent results. This may be a function of differences in the degree to which studies control for or examine the effects of gender composition on the relationship, as well as differences in controlling for relationship duration, type, and position of men- tor (see Ragins, 1999a, 1999b). However, McKeen and Bujaki point out an additional factor that may account for these inconsistent findings. Concurring with other authors in this volume (Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15), they attribute these mixed findings to contextual factors that can be accounted for only by considering gender as a systemic factor nested within social and organizational contexts. For example, organizational cultures can be more or less masculine or feminine, and definitions of mentoring effectiveness can be more or less rooted in male models of careers. As discussed below, these factors have a profound effect on our research questions, our research methods, and how we interpret the results of our research.
As with gender, research on the effects of race on mentoring relationships has been restricted by how race is viewed, or not viewed, in organizations. Blake-Beard, Murrell, and Thomas (Chapter 9) assert that while the challenges of cross-race mentoring have long been established, the role of mentoring in minority group members’ careers has been viewed through the lens of assimilation. People of color are expected to assimilate to models of dominant-group behaviors, and when race differences are found, they are often framed as reflecting a deficit in the minority group. As a consequence, explanations of observed differences may be incorrect, or at best incomplete, as we fail to adequately understand the unique mentoring needs and experiences of protégés and mentors of color. It is clear that employees of color who have access to mentoring from both White and minority mentors generally experience more positive career outcomes than those who do not (Thomas, 1993; Dreher & Cox, 1996). What is less clear is how the interpersonal strategies employed in cross-race mentoring and the organizational context in which mentoring are embedded shape individual and organizational outcomes.
Given the research reviewed here on cross-gender and cross-race relationships, we can postulate that when these relationships are of high quality, they will not only have the potential to enhance the careers of individuals from nondominant groups but can also prompt the personal learning of both mentors and protégés. While same-gender and same-race relationships have been found to be a critical source of psychosocial support in individuals’ developmental networks (Higgins & Kram, 2001; Ibarra, 1993) and mentoring relationships (Koberg, Boss, & Goodman, 1998; Kram & Hall, 1996; Ragins & McFarlin, 1990; Sosik & Godshalk, 2000; Tharenou, 2005; Thomas, 1990, 1993), cross-race and cross-gender relationships are opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds to acquire emotional competencies and relational skills essential to leading and thriving in a diverse workforce (see Cherniss, Chapter 17; Clutterbuck, Chapter 26; Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15; Ragins, 2002, 2007).
This discussion illustrates that an assessment of the effects of race and gender on mentoring relationships needs to incorporate an understanding of the impact of social and political context on the research questions we ask, the variables we study, and the conclusions we draw. For example, Ragins (2007) point out that research that examines whether women and people of color experience the same processes, benefits, and outcomes as their White male counterparts often uses the experience of White males as the “gold standard” for evaluating mentoring relationships. This ignores the possibility that diverse relationships may produce an entirely different array of processes, benefits, and outcomes that are related to the unique needs, capacities, and abilities of nondominant groups. So, for example, researchers comparing female and male mentors that use the protégé’s career advancement as the metric for evaluating the effectiveness of the relationship may find that women provide less of the sponsorship function than men and, as a consequence, may conclude that women are less effective as mentors. However, this research may not measure or capture the unique and important functions female mentors may bring to the table, such as helping their protégés develop emotional competence, relational learning, self-knowledge, and other skills related to personal growth and connection.
In sum, the authors in this volume have identified a number of important antecedents that may affect the quality and processes in mentoring relationships. Variations in mentors’ and protégés’ personality may combine with their develop- mental needs and stages, their relational skills and competencies, and their gender, race, and ethnicity to influence the quality and dynamics of the relationship. Even as we pursue promising new paths to understanding the antecedents to effective mentoring, so must we also critique and consider the type of outcomes we employ in our research. This leads us to the next section, in which we synthesize and present the range of mentoring outcomes presented in this volume.
Extending the Range of Mentoring Outcomes
A consistent theme throughout this collection is the call for considering a wider range of outcomes in future mentoring research. Whereas the first two decades of research on mentoring emphasized instrumental career-related outcomes, such as increased performance, compensation, promotions, advancement, job attitudes, and career satisfaction (see Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, 2004; Noe, Greenberger, & Wang, 2002), there is now a collective view that outcomes related to personal learning, development, and growth are equally relevant and important. As we progress in our understanding of variations in the quality and processes of developmental relationships, we have also begun to acknowledge that these out- comes may be more difficult to measure yet are critical for understanding the full impact of mentoring on individuals, relationships, and organizations. These new outcomes include factors such as personal and task learning, organizational socialization, relational competencies, adult development, personal growth, physiological outcomes, and outcomes related to the nonwork domain. As our discussion will reveal, some of these outcomes iteratively function as processes as well as outcomes of mentoring relationships.
Learning Across Relationships and Career Cycles
Learning can be both a process and outcome of mentoring relationships. In their chapter, Melenie Lankau and Terri Scandura (Chapter 4) build on prior empirical (Lankau & Scandura, 2002) and theoretical work (Kram & Hall, 1996) to examine personal learning as a major category of mentoring outcomes. Personal learning involves the acquisition of knowledge, skills, or competencies that con- tribute to an individual’s personal development (Kram, 1996). Drawing on Hall’s (2002) dimensions of career effectiveness, Lankau and Scandura offer a typology that uses the dimensions of task/personal focus and short-term/long-term time orientations to present different types of learning outcomes from mentoring relation- ships. These include personal skill development, relational job learning, personal identity growth, personal adaptability, and professional and organizational socialization. Their chapter also illuminates the fact that learning processes and out- comes in mentoring relationships are driven by the needs of the members as well as the social and organizational contexts in which the relationships are embedded.
Organizational socialization is a key learning outcome that has received relatively little attention in the mentoring literature (see Chao, O’Leary-Kelly, Wolf, Klein, & Gardner, 1994). In Chapter 7, Chao addresses this gap by examining how mentoring and other developmental relationships combine to facilitate organizational socialization. She makes the key point that different mentors address different socialization needs of protégés and that it is important to examine organizational socialization, and perhaps other learning outcomes, within the context of multiple developmental relationships. Combined, these chapters point not only to the need to address different types of learning outcomes of mentoring relationships but also to the need to examine these outcomes within the context of multiple relationships that occur across career stages and organizational settings.
The learning that occurs in mentoring relationships may also influence career- related learning processes. In their model of relationally driven career learning, Hall and Chandler (Chapter 19) illustrate how developmental relationships influence stages of career learning cycles. They observe that turbulent career environments create situations in which individuals change jobs and industries more frequently than in the past. Rather than viewing careers as a long single cycle of stages (i.e., exploration, trial, establishment, and mastery), Hall and Chandler propose that individuals enact multiple career roles simultaneously and therefore experience multiple, short-career learning cycles. These cycles involve a range of potential outcomes that include the development of new skills as well as increased self-awareness, self-confidence, self-esteem, psychological success, identity growth, and adaptability. They explain how developmental networks and relationships can trigger, facilitate, or even hinder the task and personal learning that occurs within career learning cycles. While mentoring scholars have examined the relationship between the presence of a mentor and career outcomes, such as advancement and career satisfaction, we have not empirically examined the relationship between mentoring and career learning, planning, and development for both mentors and protégés. The need to understand the role of mentoring in career development processes is even more salient given the new career context of boundaryless and protean careers (see Arthur & Rousseau, 1996; Hall & Associates, 1996).
Taken together, these chapters illustrate that learning is both a process and an outcome of mentoring relationships, that there are multiple forms of learning in mentoring relationships, and that these forms of learning occur over the course of learning cycles that are spread across career spans. Moreover, different types and combinations of developmental relationships offer different learning processes and outcomes for both mentors and protégés. Finally, the organizational environment and the composition of the relationship represent key contextual factors that affect learning outcomes in mentoring relationships.
Relational Competencies, Cycles, and Caches
The contributors to this book broaden and deepen our perspective on the range of relational outcomes that may occur in mentoring interactions, relationships, and developmental networks. For example, Fletcher and Ragins (Chapter 15) apply Miller and Stiver’s (1997) theory of growth-fostering interactions to the mentoring arena by identifying “five good things” that occur for both mentors and protégés in growth-fostering mentoring episodes. These include a zest for learning in the relationship, empowered action, increased sense of worth, new knowledge and the desire for more connection (Miller & Stiver, 1997). Fletcher and Ragins propose that repeated episodes in which these five good things are achieved will lead to increased levels of relational competence for both members of the relationship. Relational competence is defined as the ability to operate effectively in a context of interdependence (Fletcher, 1999). Fletcher and Ragins point out that relational competence is transferable across relationships and settings and is linked to more effective work relationships, work performance, developmental growth, and other positive career outcomes (Fletcher, 1999; Goleman, 1995). They observe that since individuals carry their relational competence with them, high-quality mentoring may lead to the development of skills that influence relationships both within and outside the workplace. They propose that by developing relational competence and the ability to build high-quality connections across life domains (see Dutton & Heaphy, 2003), high-quality mentoring may contribute to both mentors’ and protégés’ life satisfaction, health, well-being, and balance.
These chapters also reveal that relational competence may affect the outcomes of mentoring relationships in an iterative manner. As Cherniss points out in his chapter on emotional intelligence and mentoring (Chapter 17), the self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social skills required for effective mentoring relationships are also frequently acquired in the context of developmental relationships. For example, effective mentors need relational competence, but the process of effective mentoring may also enhance a mentor’s capacity for active listening and empathy. Similarly, protégés may build their relational savvy as they initiate and build mentoring relationships (Chandler, 2006), resulting in richer developmental net- works in the future. Along similar lines, Higgins, Chandler, and Kram (Chapter 14) illustrate how developmental initiation leads to rich developmental networks that, in turn, result in enhanced career-related and personal learning outcomes. Understanding these iterative effects may also help us find the “tipping point” in the process of developing skills across networks that lead to positive, productive developmental relationships.
These perspectives offer the idea that there may be a cyclical, self-generating process that occurs within and between relationships that leads to and builds on relational outcomes. We offer the idea that mentors and protégés in high-quality relationships may develop and build on each other’s set of relational competencies, thus creating a positive cycle of relational caches. We define relational caches as a transportable sets of relational skills and competencies, which may include skills relating to effective communication, empathic listening, personal learning, knowledge transfer, adaptability, emotional intelligence, self-reflection, self-awareness, and other indicators of personal growth (see Fletcher, 1996; Kram, 1996; Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15; Miller & Stiver, 1997). Since these competencies transfer across time, relationships, and settings, the acquisition of relational caches in one relationship may affect the processes and outcomes of other relationships within and outside the workplace. High-quality mentoring episodes and relationships may therefore help both mentors and protégés create and sustain high-quality develop- mental networks. In addition, since relational caches are passed from one partner to another in high-quality relationships, relational caches can be passed from one relationship to another.
This web of connection and growth can help explain the development of high-quality mentoring cultures in organizations. This process may also explain how individuals become high-quality mentors; individuals who develop a cache of relational skills as a protégé may seek high-quality mentoring relationships in the future, and these relationships may, in turn, broaden and build the skills cache needed to provide effective mentoring. Ultimately, as high-quality mentoring proliferates within an organization, we are likely to witness the institution of a developmental culture and improved organizational performance. Combined, these perspectives not only point to new types of relational outcomes to study but also to the need to study the potentially iterative, spiraling effects of relational outcomes and processes in current and future developmental relationships and in the surrounding organizational context.
Personal Development, Growth, and Change
A wider lens on mentoring relationships and outcomes also leads us to think in new ways about the iterative process by which mentoring relationships affect adult developmental, personal growth and change. For example, McGowan, Stone, and Kegan (Chapter 16) examine how stages of adult development both affect and are affected by mentoring relationships. They observe that some mentoring relation- ships lead to enhanced cognitive and affective capabilities, thus enabling mentors and protégés to transition through increasingly complex stages of adult development. Applying Kegan’s (1982, 1991) earlier work, McGowan, Stone, and Kegan offer an in-depth analysis of how mentoring relationships facilitate advancement to higher stages of adult development. They point out, however, that this advancement is contingent on the developmental position of both the mentor and the protégé. In her early work on mentoring, Kram (1985) also speculated that complementarity of developmental stages was critical to realizing the potential value of mentoring and has since extended this perspective to developmental networks (see Chandler & Kram, 2005).
Combined, these perspectives suggest that mentoring can either enhance or smother individual growth, depending on the developmental position of each member of the relationship. Thus, once again, we see that a potential outcome of mentoring relationships (e.g., transition to a higher stage of development) can also shape the relationship in an iterative manner. This also points to the importance of assessing dyadic congruency effects when studying outcomes associated with mentoring relationships. Congruent dyads in which members share similar levels of development and relational skills are likely to be more readily established and effective than dyads that reflect incongruence in members’ level of development. However, whether incongruence leads to negative outcomes will depend on the nature of the differences in developmental positions between the two parties. For example, a mentor at a higher developmental position may be better able than a protégé to help his or her partner advance to the next developmental stage.
Although the topic of personal growth and change is central to the very essence of mentoring, it has received relatively little attention in the mentoring literature. Boyatzis (Chapter 18) addresses this gap by using his intentional change theory (Boyatzis, 2006) to examine how mentoring relationships influence personal growth and change throughout the life course. His chapter points to two con- structs, trust and compassion, that have been examined in the management litera- ture (see Dutton, Worline, Frost, & Lilius, 2006; Kramer, 1999; Pratt & Dirks, 2007) but have been neglected in the garden of mentoring. Boyatzis proposes that developmental relationships characterized by trust and compassion are key to bringing about individuals’ self-awareness, identity growth, and ability to reassess circumstances and adapt to these changes over time. For personal change outcomes to evolve, however, he identifies a number of preconditions, including the relational skills to pose questions, give feedback, and prompt self-inquiry within the context of a safe, compassionate relationship. Boyatzis’s chapter illustrates that while mentoring scholars have focused on how mentoring affects career outcomes, advancement, and job attitudes, we know little about the effects of mentoring on the mentor’s and protégé’s personal growth, identity, and self-awareness.
Taken to a broader level, a key question that comes to mind when reviewing these chapters is how mentoring influences dreams, aspirations, and the ability to achieve one’s “ideal” or “best self” (see Roberts, Dutton, Spreitzer, Heaphy, & Quinn, 2005). Underlying this question is the perspective of viewing employees holistically. For example, we know that the effects of relationships in the workplace extend to life domains outside work, and vice versa (see Ragins & Dutton, 2007). Applying a holistic perspective to the mentoring arena opens empirical doors for assessing a rich range of psychological outcomes of mentoring relationships that have not yet been examined in the literature.
Applying a personal growth lens to the mentoring literature also opens up new possibilities and alignments with related areas of scholarship. In particular, the personal growth outcomes identified in this volume complement emerging perspectives from the positive psychology (Lopez & Snyder, 2002) and positive organizational scholarship movements (see Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003; Dutton & Ragins, 2007; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007; Ragins & Verbos, 2007; Roberts, 2006). These positive perspectives identify a rich new array of growth-related outcomes that can be studied by mentoring scholars (see Ragins & Verbos, 2007). For example, mentoring relationships may yield positive psychological capital outcomes involving increased self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience (Luthans, 2002; Luthans & Youssef, 2004; Luthans et al., 2007). Mentoring scholars may also investigate outcomes associated with high-quality connections (Dutton & Heaphy, 2003), such as resilience, energy, zest, flourishment, flow, and vitality (Cameron et al., 2003). Mentoring may con- tribute to the psychological state of thriving, which is defined as the experience of both vitality and learning at work (Spreitzer, Sutcliffe, Dutton, Sonenshein, & Grant, 2005). Spreitzer and her colleagues propose that mentoring may be a relational resource that creates thriving and that individuals who achieve states of thriving may seek mentoring relationships to build and sustain that experience.
Future research could also assess whether mentoring affects mentors’ and pro- tégés’ experiences of courage (Worline & Quinn, 2003), empowerment (Feldman & Khademian, 2003), and the ability to obtain states of meaningfulness and connection at work (Kahn, 2007; Pratt & Ashforth, 2003). Finally, mentoring may lead to the development of positive and authentic identities (Roberts, 2007) and may offer the opportunity for members of diverse relationships to leverage their experiences into increased knowledge about diversity in the workplace (Davidson & James, 2007). By broadening the study of mentoring to include this rich array of outcomes, we add needed dimensions of depth and texture to the garden of mentoring.
An emerging and exciting new area of inquiry is the effect of mentoring relationships on physiological and health-related outcomes. A related stream of research has found that the social support generated in relationships can have positive effects on cardiovascular and immune outcomes, such as blood pressure, cortisol (stress- related hormone), and other health-related indices (see review by Heaphy, 2007; see also Fredrickson & Losada, 2005; Seeman, 2001). Heaphy (2007) proposes that high-quality mentoring relationships may offer long-term health benefits for their members and notes that the decreased intrusiveness of physiological measures makes the time ripe for organizational scholars to team with scholars from the health sciences to study the physiological effects of positive relationships at work.
The connection between mentoring and physical outcomes is also highlighted in Boyatzis’s Chapter 18, on intentional behavioral change. He urges mentoring researchers to include measures of physiological changes that occur as the personal change process unfolds in the relationship. After defining positive and negative emotional attractors, he offers the idea that the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) will be aroused when there are positive attractors at work, giving the individual access to more of their neural circuits. He explains that this process allows them to experience neurogenesis (i.e., the conversion of hippocampal stem cells into new neurons), which allows for new types of learning (Boyatzis, Smith, &Blaize, 2006). He contends that as new behaviors are practiced and a new sense of identity is formed, new neural pathways can be developed and measured.
This line of thought offers mentoring scholars an impressive new array of outcome measures that offer strong practical utility for organizational scholars and practitioners. Stress scholars have long documented the harmful physiological effects of workplace stress (Cooper & Payne, 1988), but what are the physical out- comes associated with dysfunctional mentoring relationships? Can positive mentoring relationships not only support positive physiological outcomes but also serve as a psychological buffer to stress in both work and nonwork domains? What contextual factors optimize the physiological effects of positive relationships or minimize the effects of negative relationships? How do multiple developmental relationships interact in determining physiological outcomes? What is the influence of mentoring relationships on both mental and physical health? Given the rising cost of health care and the concomitant emphasis on workplace wellness, the effects of mentoring relationships on health is a very promising and important area for future research.
Increasingly, organizational scholars are recognizing that we need to examine the interface between work and nonwork domains and the effects of work relationships on nonwork outcomes. Toward that end, Greenhaus and Singh (Chapter 21) urge us to cast a broader net by considering the work-family interface within the context of mentoring relationships. They offer a theoretical model that examines how mentoring affects protégés’ work-family conflict, work-family enrichment, and the psycho- logical well being gained as a consequence of work-life balance. They point out that traditionally, mentoring research has focused on a relatively narrow range of protégés’ career outcomes (e.g., advancement, compensation) and has failed to recognize the potential impact of mentoring on protégés’ family and personal lives. Greenhaus and Singh identify four different outcomes related to work-family balance that can be studied by mentoring scholars: (a) family interference with work, (b) work interference with family (c) work enrichment of family, and (d) family enrichment of work.
In addition to these outcomes, Greenhaus and Singh propose that the mentor’s views and practices around work-family issues shape more immediate outcomes reflecting the mentor’s behaviors in the relationship. These behaviors, in turn, influence both the protégés work-related demands and the resources they obtain from work. Greenhaus and Singh present the idea of a work-family lens, which is the extent to which mentors are sensitive to and supportive of their protégés’ values and goals regarding the attainment of work-family balance. They explain that a work-family lens is a type of mentoring schema (Ragins & Verbos, 2007) that guides behaviors and ultimately enables the protégé’s ability to achieve work-life balance. As with the additional outcomes noted earlier in this section, they observe that work-family balance outcomes are shaped not only by the mentor’s inclinations but also by the surrounding organizational context.
In sum, our landscape architects have provided several blueprints for examining a range of developmental outcomes that extends far beyond the traditional instrumental outcomes that have historically served as the centerpiece of mentoring research. Our authors have outlined fruitful new areas for research on learning across relationships, organizations, and career cycles. They offer new perspectives on how mentoring builds and broadens relational and emotional competencies and, in so doing, creates iterative cycles of relational caches that can be transferred across time, relationships, and settings.
A wider lens on mentoring also allows for a deeper understanding of how mentoring affects the transition to new developmental positions, personal growth, and change. We can examine how mentoring affects the creation of new identities, dreams, and aspirations, as well as the creation and maintenance of work-life balance. Mentoring may be associated with a range of positive psychological out- comes, such as thriving, resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy, as well as positive physiological outcomes relating to physical and mental health and well-being. The idea that several of these outcomes (e.g. self-awareness, empathy) have the potential to launch a cycle of positive growth, both in the individual actors and in developmental relationships and networks, calls for study of the iterative processes inherent in relationships over time. We can infer that the potential for a negative cycle of dysfunctional relationships and outcomes is equally possible, as when the lack of self-awareness can lead to ineffective mentoring that can result in mistrust and despair. These new lines of inquiry may help to find the “tipping points” for relationship quality, positive and negative outcomes, and the conditions necessary for growth-enhancing connections. To complete our description of the new land- scape of mentoring, we now examine how particular aspects of context influence mentoring relationships, processes, and outcomes.
Understanding the Role of Context
More than ever before, the field of mentoring now recognizes the critical nature of context and the role context plays in shaping the initiation, processes, and outcomes of mentoring relationships. Context involves not only the system within which mentoring relationships are embedded but also the structure and medium by which mentoring relationships are enacted within and outside organizations. Our contributors offer five new paths of inquiry that illuminate the role of context in the development, processes, and outcomes of mentoring relationships: (1) the organization’s role in fostering mentoring relationships, (2) the effects of diversity climate and norms, (3) the role of leadership in mentoring, (4) the impact of technology on mentoring, and (5) the role of societal culture in shaping mentoring processes and outcomes. These contextual factors illuminate the embedded nature of mentoring and offer important new insights for future research and practice.
The Organization’s Role in Fostering Mentoring
Formal and Informal Mentoring
As we consider the factors that distinguish relationships in terms of quality, processes, and structure, a key contextual factor is whether the relationship was initiated through informal or structured means (see Allen, Eby, & Lentz, 2006; Chao, Walz, & Gardner, 1992; Ragins & Cotton, 1999; Underhill, 2006). While the continuum of quality in formal and informal mentoring relationships clearly overlaps (Ragins et al., 2000), it can be quite helpful to consider differences in how this contextual factor influences the norms and expectations of mentoring relationships. In their chapter on formal mentoring relationships Gayle Baugh and Ellen Fagenson-Eland (Chapter 10) observe that differences between formal and informal mentoring may be a function of different expectations for the relation- ship, the time-bound nature of formal mentoring, and differences in the training, quality, and structure among formal programs. They observe that due to the requirements, expectations, and time constraints of formal programs, it is quite likely that some of the personal benefits experienced by protégés and mentors in informal mentoring relationships (e.g., long-term friendship, increasing intimacy) are less likely to occur in formal relationships.
A key consideration here is the matching process used in creating formal relationships. In Chapter 25, Blake-Beard, O’Neill, and McGowan discuss some of the differences in techniques used in the matching process and offer insights into some of the factors that contribute to successful matching in formal mentoring programs. In their discussion of criteria for matching mentors and protégés, they illustrate how decisions about matching can significantly shape both relationship dynamics and outcomes. When efforts are made to ensure that the criteria for matching are aligned with key objectives of the program, both career advancement objectives and personal learning objectives can be met.
Organizational contexts also influence the values and expectations associated with formal and informal mentoring relationships. Even though practitioners and scholars agree that focusing on the differences between formal and informal mentoring is not as useful as understanding how these relationships complement one another, it can be quite instructive to examine how expectations about these relationships differ across organizational contexts (see Baugh & Fagenson-Eland, Chapter 10; P-Sontag, Vappie, & Wanberg, Chapter 24). Toward that end, McCauley and Guthrie (Chapter 23) advocate for research on how organizational systems and cultures impact the acceptance and effectiveness of relationships for learning. They point out, for example, that in some performance-oriented cultures, executive coaches are viewed as necessary, while in other contexts, coaches are evidence of weakness. Similarly, in some organizations, individuals are responsible for finding their own mentors, while other organizations offer programs to help employees develop the skills and competencies necessary to develop effective informal mentoring relationships. For example, Cherniss (Chapter 17) observes that organizations can play a key role in promoting and sustaining effective mentoring relationships by encouraging training in emotional competence, as well as establishing support systems that reward this important work. We clearly need more systematic research to ferret out the ways in which organizational contexts influence the development of effective formal and informal mentoring relationships.
Our practitioner authors acknowledge the criticality of organizational contexts and offer insights into fostering effective mentoring relationships. For example, Lynn P-Sontag, Kim Vappie and Connie Wanberg (Chapter 24) explain how MENTIUUM considers the organization’s strategic business and talent develop- ment goals, along with the current culture and practices, when implementing hierarchical or peer mentoring programs. Along similar lines, Catalyst’s Kathy Giscombe (Chapter 22) observes that the organization’s resources, sponsorship, and priorities play a key role in whether mentoring programs are effective in helping women advance through the glass ceiling. McCauley and Guthrie, at the Center for Creative Leadership (Chapter 23), offer insights into the interface between organizational support for leadership development and mentoring by describing how different types of relationships—learning coaches, peer learning partners, executive facilitators, and feedback coaches—are targeted to serve different roles in leadership development programs and practices.
Climate for Mentoring and Learning
Irrespective of whether formal mentoring programs are offered, the organization’s culture and talent management practices will influence whether individuals invest energy and time in developmental relationships. When learning is explicitly valued (i.e., it is permissible to make a mistake), managers are rewarded for taking the time to coach and mentor others, work is designed to foster teamwork and collaboration, and leaders model their own commitment to developing others. In this organizational context, mentoring is far more likely to flourish than when these same actions and priorities are disvalued (Kram, 1985; Kram & Hall, 1996). The importance of culture is also reflected in Cherniss’s Chapter 17, which illustrates how these factors shape individuals’ willingness to develop the necessary emotional competence to be effective in mentoring relationships. Combined, these perspectives illustrate the key role organizational context plays in determining the nature, learning processes, and effectiveness of developmental relationships.
The Effects of Diversity Climate and Societal Norms
The contextual effect of diversity is a consistent theme threading throughout the volume (see Blake-Beard, Murrell, & Thomas, Chapter 9; Giscombe, Chapter 22; Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15; McKeen & Bujaki, Chapter 8). As our authors point out, societal norms, expectations, and stereotypes not only filter down through organizational culture to influence the definition of careers but also directly influence the form, functions, processes, and outcomes of mentoring relationships. For example, McKeen and Bujaki (Chapter 8) point out that mentoring has historically been defined as providing guidance for career success; however, career success has generally been defined in masculine terms. One of their key concerns is that both researchers and practitioners have accepted masculine definitions of success, which fails to examine mentoring processes and outcomes that may be more important to women. Similarly, Fletcher and Ragins (Chapter 15) observe that while relational practices in mentoring relationships are critical predictors of success, these practices become invisible and devalued when viewed as “women’s work.” This concern is echoed by Blake-Beard, Murrell, and Thomas (Chapter 9), who point out that models of mentoring have consistently been based on majority/White male paradigms and that these models fail to recognize aspects of the relationship that serve the unique needs of nondominant groups in organizations.
These authors point to the importance of considering how our society shapes the values used to view, develop, and evaluate mentoring relationships. For example, Fletcher and Ragins (Chapter 15) urge us to think beyond organizational context to the impact of societal-level systemic forces. Like our other authors, they emphasize how our views of gender and racial dynamics in mentoring relationships are shaped by the gendered nature of mainstream theories of human growth and development. They make the point that we must focus not only on whether race or gender differences exist but also, more important, on how our theories have been “gendered” to reflect traditionally male values. They point out that since mentoring occurs within the context of societal systems, power dynamics at the societal level (i.e., the legacies of patriarchal laws, slavery, and homophobic secrecy) need to be taken into account when studying the processes and outcomes of mentoring relationships, as well as the conditions under which they flourish. As Thomas (1993) asserted in his original work on cross-racial mentoring and racial taboos, the history of power relations between groups combines with social identities to shape relational interactions and the ability to achieve effective mentoring relationships. The impact of societal con- text on mentoring relationships is critical not only from a power and diversity perspective but also, as we will see later, from a cross-cultural international perspective.
Our authors also reveal an interesting paradox in the relationship between technology and diversity. Ensher and Murphy (Chapter 12) observe that electronic mentoring may be helpful for meeting the challenges of diverse mentoring relationships. They point out that electronic communication lacks the salient visual clues that can trigger stereotypes, biases, and discrimination. E-mentoring may enable mentors and protégés to focus on similar values, attitudes, and goals rather than surface-level similarities or differences. This may also allow nondominant group members to be viewed more in terms of their individual attributes than their group membership. However, this form of invisibility has a negative backside when we consider Blake- Beard, Murell, and Thomas’s chapter on race and mentoring (Chapter 9). They point out that when race becomes invisible, the unique complexities, issues, and insights in cross-race relationships also become unacknowledged and unaddressed. They point to the need to make race more visible in organizations and mentoring relationships in order to acknowledge the role of race in organizational life. If e-mentoring puts race, gender, and ethnicity in the background, this dynamic could undermine efforts to promote the deep change in organizational cultures that are needed for a diverse workforce to flourish. E-mentoring may be good for the short term if it allows individuals to connect who otherwise would not do so, but it could also have the unintended consequence of restricting the development of diversity awareness and the competencies (i.e., self-awareness, empathy, social skills) necessary to build mutually enhancing diverse mentoring relationships.
Future research could examine the optimal use of e-mentoring in diverse mentoring relationships. For example, e-mentoring may be useful in the early stages of initiation and development, as it avoids triggering stereotypes that may curtail the development of the relationship (see Blake-Beard, 1999; Ragins & Cotton, 1991; Viator, 2001). However, once the relationship is established, it may be best for the relationship to transform to face-to-face in order for members to obtain optimal states of learning and growth from their relationship.
The chapters in this volume illustrate the evolution of our understanding of the role of diversity in mentoring relationships. Although early perspectives emphasized the importance of diversity (Kram, 1988; Ragins, 1997; Thomas, 1993), until now, broadened views of what constitutes mentoring for various identity group members has not been fully examined. Blake-Beard, Murrell, and Thomas (Chapter 9) warn that when we use narrow definitions to describe mentoring dynamics within a diverse organizational setting, we undermine our ability to accurately understand the situation or determine what might impede growth and development for diverse groups of employees. A broadened perspective is not limited to race or gender, but takes a kaleidoscope view in examining the full range and combination of differences that may occur in mentoring relationships (see Ragins, 2002). Emerging perspectives also acknowledge that mentoring involves the exchange of power, knowledge, and social capital and prompts researchers to exam- ine how some developmental network structures enable success among members of nondominant groups, while other structures result in failure (see Ibarra, 1993). It is clear that we need to continue to explore how the cultural context of diversity reciprocally influences the development and effectiveness of diverse mentoring relationships and developmental networks.
The Interface of Mentoring and Leadership
Several chapters in this volume prompt us to examine how mentoring occurs within the context of leadership and how leadership can further our understanding of mentoring relationships. This interface can take two forms. First, leaders can model and create a developmental culture that promotes mentoring relationships, and, second, mentoring can build leadership capability within individuals and within the organizational context.
In their chapter on leadership and mentoring, Veronica Godshalk and John Sosik (Chapter 6) demonstrate how theories of transformational leadership and leader-member exchange can be used to illuminate mentoring processes and out- comes. For example, some of the behaviors that characterize transformational leaders are equally observable in high-quality mentoring relationships (Godshalk & Sosik, 2000). It appears, too, that the functions and outcomes of both leadership and mentoring vary depending on similar relationship dimensions—which include the form of the relationship (one-to-one or one-to-many), the relationship type (formal or informal), the relationship’s primary goal focus (individual or organizational), and the context in which the relationship exists (within or outside an organization’s boundaries). Furthermore, there is considerable overlap between mentoring and leadership on these dimensions, suggesting that in many circumstances, the same individual may enact both leadership and mentoring behaviors.
What is not yet clearly articulated are the distinctions between leaders and men- tors. While we may see similar behaviors in those that lead and those that mentor, these are not always embodied in the same individual, nor do they always have the same objectives or outcomes. And though both have been defined as relational rather than individual phenomena, the practical and conceptual distinctions between leaders and mentors have not been precisely articulated. A recurring theme in this volume and elsewhere (Kouzes & Posner, 2003; McCauley & Guthrie, Chapter 23; Ting & Scisco, 2006) is that leadership focuses primarily on organizational change, while mentoring focuses primarily on individual change; leaders aim to inspire individuals, groups, and organizations to move in a particular direction, while mentors aim to inspire individuals to define and more forward on their own developmental paths. One implication of this is that mentors, particularly informal mentors, operate primarily for the best interest of their protégé, while leaders have a larger constituent group that includes other stakeholders. In some cases, mentors may advise their protégés to engage in behaviors and career paths that are in the best interest of the protégé but not the organization. For example, retaining a high-performing protégé may be in the best interest of the organization, but a mentor may advise the protégé to leave if the organization does not support or value the protégé’s development. In contrast, leaders and formally assigned mentors have a different set of responsibilities, expectations, and role requirements that may lead to an entirely different set of behaviors, as described by Baugh and Fagenson-Eland’s (Chapter 10).
Applying a leadership lens to mentoring offers new insights and questions about the relationships between these constructs. For example, what is the role of mentoring in enabling individuals to develop their leadership capabilities? McCauley and Guthrie begin to address this question in (Chapter 23), on the role of learning partnerships in leader development programs. Their chapter offers examples on how developmental relationships can be leveraged into leadership programs. This line of thought suggests that by maximizing relational processes underlying learning and development, mentoring others may increase one’s leadership capability. The relationship qualities that characterize high-quality mentoring may be the same as those required for transformational leadership, making mentoring a training ground for critical leadership characteristics and skills. And in coaching and developing others, mentors can develop a good understanding of the values, interests, and capabilities of the workforce they aspire to lead. These questions offer provocative insights for a fertile new area of growth in the garden of mentoring.
The Impact of Technology
Technology plays an increasing contextual role in the development and maintenance of mentoring relationships within and outside organizations (Ensher, Heun, & Blanchard, 2003; Hamilton & Scandura, 2003). Ensher and Murphy (Chapter 12) offer key insights into the electronic future by examining electronic mentoring (e-mentoring), yet another new form of a developmental relationship that can foster both personal and organizational outcomes related to learning and development. They demonstrate how e-mentoring may supplement face-to-face mentoring or be construed as a separate resource for individuals striving to expand their developmental networks. Their chapter offers guidance for mentoring scholars by examining how the antecedents and consequences of e-mentoring may differ from face-to-face mentoring relationships.
The role of technology in mentoring relationships represents a bountiful area for future research. We need to better understand the conditions and practices that maximize positive outcomes in computer-mediated mentoring. At a minimum, we need to clarify how match quality, frequency of communication, and perceived similarity affect relationship quality in formal and informal electronic relationships. We also need to understand how these processes differ from the processes involved in face- to-face relationships. Organizational context may also play a role in these processes; it may be that e-mentoring works better as primary or supplemental developmental relationship in a particular organizational context. Diversity context may also affect these processes; as discussed earlier, diversity and status differences may shape computer-mediated relationships in unique and unexamined ways. Future research needs to explore the impact of e-mentoring within these contexts, as well as others. It is clear that with increases in globalization, telecommuting, and the permeable boundaries of work across location and time zones, e-mentoring is likely to have an increasing presence in the garden of mentoring for many years to come.
The Role of Societal Culture
The final contextual variable identified in this volume perhaps has the broadest impact on the development and functioning of mentoring relationships. Our practitioners identified the impact of culture on the practice of mentoring and offered important insight into the types of research that needs to be conducted in this area. For example, in his comparison of European and U.S. models of mentoring, David Clutterbuck (Chapter 26) uses a cross-cultural perspective to illuminate how the cultural context in which an organization is embedded influences the definition and enactment of mentoring. He illustrates how European mentoring programs are based on a different set of assumptions regarding the purpose and scope of mentoring. For example, he notes that European mentoring takes a more developmental tact—emphasizing personal learning and development—while U.S. mentoring tends to emphasize career outcomes and the idea of mentors sponsoring their pro- tégés’ advancement. It is interesting to note that the mutuality and reciprocal learn- ing process of mentoring relationships has long been acknowledged in European settings but is just beginning to take hold in theory and practice in the United States.
Along similar lines, P-Sontag, Vappie, and Wanberg (Chapter 24) describe the challenges they faced when applying the MENTIUUM mentoring framework to international locations. They describe how language and cultural differences limit what is transferable from U.S.-based initiatives. For example, they discovered that managers in Spain would not accept cross-gender partnerships, while managers in France viewed formal mentoring as remedial in nature.
Clutterbuck (Chapter 26) urges both researchers and practitioners to make use of systematic research on cultural differences as the study of mentoring progresses. He notes that cross-cultural researchers offer clear dimensions on which to assess cultural differences (Adler, 1997; Hofstede, 2003; Trompenaars & Woolliams, 2004) and highlights two dimensions that may be particularly relevant for understanding mentoring within different cultural contexts: power distance (which may influence protégés’ willingness to challenge what they are told) and individuality (which may lead to a focus on the protégé’s individual career progression as the core goal of the relationship). In addition, the reliance on fatalism (where failure may be seen as “God’s will” rather than a personal responsibility) may also influence mentoring relationships in some cultures. Clutterbuck notes that high power distance cultures may tend to favor a hierarchical sponsorship model but that this approach may clash with multinationals that are dominated by low power distance countries, such as in Northern Europe. Finally, with increased globalization, he observes that U.S. and European mentoring are becoming increasingly similar with respect to cultural effects on mentoring. Indeed, we may discover new “cultural hybrids” of mentoring (see Mezias & Scandura, 2005) that reflect cultural combinations of values, needs, and differences across cultural settings.
As described in this section, the landscape of mentoring is enriched by the consideration of a range of embedded contextual factors involving the organization and the societal culture in which it is nested. Mentoring relationships are also enacted within the context of technology, leadership, and diversity. The research and practice of mentoring do not exist in a vacuum, but are profoundly affected by these contextual factors.
In sum, the authors in this volume have offered us rich insight into a new array of antecedents, processes, outcomes, and contextual factors that can be examined in research and explored in practice. A summary of these new horizons is presented in Figure 27.1. These new horizons do not necessarily replace traditional perspectives, but instead may serve to complement and extend our knowledge of traditional variables that have been studied extensively in the past (i.e., mentor functions, phases of relationship, career and job attitudes, advancement, compensation and performance). In addition, these new horizons reflect themes that were raised in this volume, which do not reflect all new and emerging themes in mentoring, such as mentoring schema theory (Ragins & Verbos, 2007) or relational mentoring (Ragins, 2005).
The new horizon of mentoring certainly represents a challenging research agenda. Fortunately, our authors have equipped us with the tools needed to success- fully navigate the practical and methodological challenges that we will inevitably face as we move our field into the 21st century.
Tools and Challenges in Tending the New Landscape
In presenting new frameworks and posing new questions, our authors have planted the seeds of growth for research and innovation in many undernourished areas in the garden of mentoring. Each chapter has offered unique elements and critical tools needed to nurture the growth of developmental relationships in organizations. Our intention is to encourage scholars and practitioners, both new and experienced, to make use of the theoretical frameworks, research propositions, research methods, and practical applications presented in this volume. As we continue to tend to the garden of mentoring, we can anticipate new theoretical advancements, revelations, and insights into how to create and encourage positive outcomes for individuals, groups, and organizations.
The volume reveals three key priorities in tending the landscape of mentoring. Our first priority is to further understand and delineate how various forms of mentoring complement one another within the context of developmental networks. These hybrid forms of mentoring include peer mentoring, group mentoring, cross- organizational mentoring, diversified mentoring, cross-cultural mentoring, and e-mentoring. Second, in addition to acquiring a better understanding of dyadic and group mentoring relationships, there is much to learn about the structure, texture, and potential outcomes of developmental networks for individuals at successive life and career stages. Whether the focus is on a relationship or on a developmental net- work, we are now in a position to learn how individual and contextual factors combine to shape the dynamics, processes, and outcomes of developmental networks and relationships. Third, from a practical perspective, we need to understand how developmental networks and relational learning can enhance organizational performance and development, as well as capitalize on the inevitable impact of rapidly changing technology, diverse workforces, and globalization.
Recommendations for Next Steps
Our progress on each of these three fronts hinges on utilizing research approaches and methodologies that allow us to address some of the critical issues and questions that emerged in this volume. We offer four key recommendations here. First, in recognition of the dyadic nature of the relationship, many of our authors have called for a deeper examination of both parties’ experiences, behaviors, and outcomes (see Allen, Chapter 5; Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15; Giscombe, Chapter 22; Russell & McManus, Chapter 11). Whereas protégés were considered the primary beneficiary of the relationship in the first two decades of mentoring research, we now understand that this is only one part of the story. From a methodological perspective, mentoring researchers need to expand their methods to include both mentors and protégés who are in dyadic, peer, group, or e-mentoring relation- ships. This approach would also allow us to assess the behaviors and functions provided by protégés, an area we know little about. In essence, a dyadic, multifaceted approach could offer a more complete picture of the landscape of mentoring.
Second, the new outcomes and processes revealed in this volume call for theoretically driven research that employs qualitative and observational research methods. As discussed earlier, we now recognize that traditional measures capture a limited snapshot of the true meaning of mentoring. It is clear that we need to extend our measures of processes and outcomes to include variables such as per- sonal learning, relational competence, growth, and development. Some of these variables are very difficult to measure, and traditional quantitative measures (e.g., promotion rates, salary, performance ratings) will not suffice. Qualitative and observational methods are critical tools for uncovering the rich array of processes and outcomes of mentoring relationships.
Third, for both conceptual and methodological reasons, our field needs more longitudinal research. Many of our authors have called for an examination of how relationships and networks change over time. This call recognizes that individual’s needs change as their career cycles begin and end (Hall & Chandler, Chapter 19) and as they transition to new developmental stages and positions (McGowen, Stone, & Kegan, Chapter 16). Our authors also point out that relationships change as they evolve through various states of development and connection (Eby, Chapter 13; Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15; Kram, 1985). Relationships may also transition across states of quality (see Ragins & Verbos, 2007). Finally, changes in individuals and relationships occur within the context of constant changes in organizations, technology and work design (see Cherniss, Chapter 17; Clutterbuck, Chapter 26; Ensher & Murphy, Chapter 12; P-Sontag, Vappie, & Wanberg, Chapter 24).
In essence, longitudinal research helps capture the effects of these contextual changes on the unfolding and dynamic processes of mentoring relationships. These designs not only help us discover the true dynamics of mentoring relationships but also, as pointed out by Tom Dougherty and George Dreher (Chapter 3), help us address specific threats to internal validity that have historically plagued mentoring research. In particular, longitudinal designs can help clarify directionality and causal relationships. This is particularly important given the fact that many of the factors identified in this volume may serve as both antecedents and consequences of mentoring relationships (e.g., developmental position, emotional competence, compassion, career cycles). As pointed out by Dougherty and Dreher, rigorous lon- gitudinal designs should include key control variables and incorporate control groups when assessing outcomes of formal mentoring relationships.
Finally, mentoring scholars need to systematically examine the range of devel- opmental relationships that occur within and outside organizations. These rela- tionships take various forms (supervisory, peer, group, network) and structures (formal, informal, electronic). The authors in this volume have identified a number of factors that may affect mentoring relationships. For example, we are urged to examine how gender (McKeen & Bujaki, Chapter 8; Giscombe, Chapter 22), race (Blake-Beard, Murrell, & Thomas, Chapter 9), personality (Turban & Lee, Chapter 2), developmental position (McGowen, Stone, & Kegan, Chapter 16), career stage (Hall & Chandler, Chapter 19), emotional intelligence (Cherniss, Chapter 17), cul- tural context (Clutterbuck, Chapter 26), and work-family lens (Greenhaus & Singh, Chapter 21) influence mentoring relationships. This is a mighty task, made even larger by the idea that these factors may lead to different outcomes depending on the form and structure of the mentoring relationship. This task will keep mentor- ing scholars busy for many years to come, as we explore how the type and structure of the relationship interact with antecedents and processes to influence an array of proximal and distal outcomes.
Methodological and Conceptual Tools for the Garden of Mentoring
Fortunately, the methodological advances of the last 25 years have given us tools that will help us systematically study the complexity of factors that shape relational processes and outcomes discussed in this volume. For example, Higgins, Chandler, and Kram (Chapter 14) remind us of the methodological advances in the study of social networks (see Granovetter, 1982; Higgins & Kram, 2001) and how these can be applied toward advancing our understanding of mentoring and developmental networks. Godshalk and Sosik (Chapter 6) draw on the leadership literature to help us untangle methodological issues in defining leaders and mentors, a dilemma that is clarified by McCauley and Guthrie’s Chapter 23, on leadership as a process nested within the context of learning and mentoring. Given the call for research that acknowledges the multiple forces that shape relational learning and the need to consider varied perspectives and voices, future studies will require researchers with deep expertise in theoretical perspectives and methodologies, as well as a firm grasp of the issues facing practitioners.
This volume also offers a number of conceptual tools that can be used to design the landscape of mentoring. For example, our authors have illuminated the rela- tionship dynamics and processes that, up to very recently, have remained a “black box” in our field. We now have the tool of “mentoring episodes,” which offers a snapshot into the types of relational processes and dynamics present in positive and negative mentoring interactions (Fletcher & Ragins, Chapter 15). Fletcher and Ragins point out that an increase in positive mentoring episodes may create a “tip- ping point” in which members come to view their work relationship as a high- quality mentoring relationship. Eby (Chapter 13) applied this tool in her discussion of problematic mentoring relationships and illustrated how mentoring episodes help distinguish high-quality from marginal or dysfunctional relationships.
Our authors offer a number of other conceptual tools that will help us capture the complex dynamics and processes in mentoring relationships. For example, Cherniss (Chapter 17) and Boyatzis (Chapter 18) encourage us to consider the “tipping points” in relationships—when sufficient compassion, empathy, self-awareness, and social skills are manifested to foster dynamics that enable personal learning and develop- ment. And, in her chapter on mentoring enactment theory, Kalbfleisch (Chapter 20) offers an examination of communication patterns that signal relationship initiation, maintenance, or repair. Higgins, Chandler and Kram (Chapter 14) offer the idea of “developmental initiation,” which is defined as behaviors that set developmental rela- tionships in motion. Their chapter suggests that the structure of developmental net- works is in part determined by the focal person’s use of development-seeking behaviors. Combined, these conceptual tools offer a behavioral focus that can be used to exam- ine how episodes involving specific communication patterns and behaviors combine to create relationships reflecting various degrees of quality and effectiveness.
Moving Our Vision of the New Landscape Forward
Our vision of the landscape of mentoring in the 21st century includes a world of work in which mentoring is readily available to individuals who seek to learn new skills, gain new self-knowledge, build their performance and career capacities, and establish ongoing personal growth throughout their life courses. In addition, our vision is aimed at promoting high-quality mentoring—in all of its hybrid forms— so that individuals from all backgrounds can create developmental relationships and networks that serve their unique career and developmental needs. Finally, we antic- ipate that organizations that use mentoring to foster relational learning—at and across all levels and boundaries—will achieve enhanced performance and effective- ness, as well as the crucial ability to adapt to a persistently rapid pace of change.
The research and practice compiled in this volume identify the next steps towards achieving this vision. We now have the tools to better understand the causes of dysfunctional mentoring as well as the conditions that foster high-quality mentoring relationships. In addition, we now realize the importance of acknowl- edging that mentoring involves a range of developmental relationships—including hierarchical, peer dyadic, and group forms—and that these relationships combine to form an individual’s developmental network. We now recognize that each developmental network is unique, given the surrounding context, the network’s members, and the actions taken by its members. Each network may therefore offer different types of relational learning processes, behaviors, and outcomes. One of our next steps must be to further clarify the conditions that lead to relationships and networks that best serve the unique developmental needs of their members. This may include research and innovative practices that explore how emotional competence, relational skills, career stage, developmental position, work-family lens, gender, race, and cultural factors work individually and collectively to influ- ence the quality, processes, and outcomes of developmental networks and relation- ships. Finally, as we implement and systematically assess the impact of innovative practices, we will be better positioned to accurately assess a wider range of out- comes for both individuals and organizations.
This new agenda is ambitious. In the end, we are suggesting that as scholars and practitioners, we must enact what we have highlighted in this book: the develop- ment of high-quality relationships that lead to personal learning, skill development, enhanced performance, and a rich array of other outcomes critical for the con- tinued growth of individuals, groups, and organizations. By building high-quality partnerships between researchers and practitioners, we not only capitalize on our diverse expertise and experiences but also increase the possibility of realizing our collective aim of understanding and leveraging the potential of mentoring in many different contexts. Together, we can cultivate a garden rich with possibilities for future research and practice. The new landscape of mentoring is ready to be tended.
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