New study explores how informal mentors’ motivations affect outcomes
Liu, Y., Aad, A. A., Maalouf, J., & Hamdan, O. A. (2020). Self- vs. other-focused mentoring motives in informal mentoring: Conceptualizing the impact of motives on mentoring behaviours and beneficial mentoring outcomes. Human Resource Development International, 0(0), 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/13678868.2020.1789401
Summarized by Ariel Ervin
Notes of Interest:
- Mentoring motives affect positive mentoring outcomes, especially within informal mentoring relationships where bonds are organically developed between mentors and mentees
- Because there is a limited amount of scholarship that explores how mentor motives affect mentor behaviors and mentoring outcomes, this study proposes a conceptual model on informal mentoring that addresses this
- This proposed model argues that self-focused motives lead to self-focused behaviors (e.g. increased responsiveness to instrumental rewards and scrupulousness towards relationship formation) in ways that benefit mentors
- The model also asserts that other-focused motives lead to other-focused behaviors (e.g. low responsiveness to instrumental rewards and openness towards forming various kinds of relationships) in ways that provide benefits for individuals and organizations
- It’s recommended for human resource workers to become more aware of mentors’ motives and behaviors within informal mentorship and how they can, in turn, affect mentee engagement
Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)
Mentors enter informal mentoring relationships with various motives, but, to date, it is unclear how these motives shape mentor behaviours and mentoring outcomes. We propose a conceptual model to depict the relationships between mentor motives in informal mentoring and the individual, relational, and organizational outcomes of mentoring, with mentor behaviours as a mediating mechanism. We suggest that self-focused motives lead to self-focused behaviours, indicated by higher sensitivity to instrumental rewards, selectivity in relationship initiation, and calculatedness in relationship investment, which lead to mentoring outcomes primarily benefiting the mentor. Other-focused motives, in contrast, lead to other-focused behaviours, characterized by lower sensitivity to instrumental rewards, higher inclusivity in relationship initiation, and lower calculatedness in relationship investment, which result in a broader range of outcomes beneficial to both individuals and the organization. We further explore the impact of societal culture on mentor motives and behaviours. Our research suggests that human resource development professionals should be mindful of the mentor motive – behaviour linkages to optimize mentors’ engagement in informal mentoring relationships.
Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)
Given that informal mentoring relationships are typically not formally rewarded by organizations, mentors’ motivation plays a significant role in shaping their behaviours. In this paper, we depict the relationships among mentor motives, mentor behaviours, and beneficial mentoring outcomes in the context of informal mentoring. Based on prior research, we classify mentor motives along a continuum of self- versus other-focused motives. We further identify three elements of mentor behaviours (i.e., sensitivity to instrumental rewards, selectivity in relationship initiation, and calculation in investment) reflective of mentoring motives, and classify them as self- versus other-focused mentoring behaviours.
Drawing on rational choice theory, we offer a theory-based discussion on the relationships between self- versus other-focused motives and self- versus other-focused behaviours. We suggest that self-focused motives lead to self-focused behaviours, which are characterized by greater sensitivity to instrumental rewards, greater selectivity in relationship initiation, and more calculated investment. Conversely, other-focused motives lead to other-focused behaviours, as characterized by lower sensitivity to instrumental rewards, greater inclusivity in relationship initiation, more individualized support, and more generous or even sacrificial investment in the protégé. We further argue that, while self-focused motives lead primarily to beneficial mentor outcomes via self-focused behaviours, other-focused motives lead to a broader set of beneficial outcomes that impact both parties involved the dyadic relationship, their social networks, and the organization.
Both mentor motives and behaviours are likely shaped by societal cultures. Using Hofstede’s (1980, 2001) cultural framework, we developed a set of exploratory propositions, suggesting that certain societal cultures (e.g., collectivistic, feminine, long-term oriented) foster more other-focused mentor motives and behaviours, while others (e.g., high power distance) foster more self-focused mentor motives and behaviours.
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