Three key factors that lead to mentor satisfaction

Martin, S. M., & Sifers, S. K. (2012). An evaluation of factors leading to mentor satisfaction with the mentoring relationship. Children and Youth Services Review34(5), 940-945.

Summarized by Bridget Nestor, Editorial Assistant, Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring

Introduction: Research suggests that mentoring relationships can provide positive outcomes for both mentor and mentee. Most literature, however, has focused on how mentoring relationships can benefit mentees; less is know about how these relationships can particularly benefit mentors.

Martin and Sifers (2012) explored how three factors could influence mentor satisfaction within youth mentoring relationships: perceived training for the mentor, perceived involvement and support from the mentoring agency, and the perceived confidence levels of the mentors, themselves.

Method: Data were collected via surveys from 81 mentors in the Brother Sister Program managed by The Y in Mankato, MN. Surveys consisted of demographic information, general information about the mentoring relationship, as well as specific questions regarding the amount of training mentors felt they received, the amount of support and involvement mentors experienced from the Brother Sister agency, as well as the mentors’ own perceived level of competence and confidence in their abilities as mentors.

Results:

  • Training: Greater training was significantly associated with greater mentor satisfaction – particularly, mentors who felt they received more training were more satisfied with their mentoring relationships.
  • Agency Support: Increased agency support for mentors was not significantly associated with greater mentor satisfaction. However, the relationship between agency support and mentor satisfaction was in the predicted direction – that greater agency support would be associated with greater mentor satisfaction.
  • Mentor Confidence: Greater mentor confidence was significantly associated with greater mentor satisfaction, meaning that mentors who were more confident in their abilities as mentors were more satisfied with their mentoring relationships.
  • Other: For mentors, scheduling conflicts, communication issues with mentees’ parents, and financial constraints were all cited as barriers to achieving long-lasting, satisfying mentor relationships.

Implications: The findings from this study, consistent with previous research, highlight the importance of training and confidence with respect to mentor satisfaction. These results suggest that mentor training and mentor confidence be areas of focus for mentoring agencies. Increased availability of training opportunities that can improve mentor confidence could pay dividends in greater mentor satisfaction, allowing mentors to feel better equipped to problem-solve in their mentoring relationships, which could potentially prolong mentoring relationships. Thus understanding how to increase mentor satisfaction is critical for agencies that struggle with both mentor recruitment and retention. Additionally, agencies should work with mentors and mentees to address scheduling conflicts and provide mentors with problem-solving skills that will assist them in their communications with mentees’ parents. Agencies should incorporate these skills into their mentor training programs.

Both the sample size and the effect size in this study were very small, meaning these findings should be interpreted cautiously. Further research should attempt to replicate these results with a larger, and perhaps more representative, sample. Moreover, it is important to note that not simply training, agency support, and confidence were examined in this study, rather perceived training, perceived agency support, and perceived confidence. Future research should therefore take care to best understand how mentors experience training, support, and confidence so as to optimize mentors’ satisfaction – rather than simply increasing the number of training sessions without accounting for the quality of training sessions.   Regardless, this study underscores how greater mentor training and confidence relates to greater mentor satisfaction.

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