Research Underscores Importance of Mentor Training

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 9.21.59 AMMartin, S.M., & Sifers, S.K., (2012). An evaluation of factors leading to mentor satisfaction with the mentoring relationship. Children and Youth Services Review,34(5): 940-945.


Mentoring relationships seem to be most beneficial when mentors have ongoing support from the matching agency, ongoing training, and confidence in one’s mentoring abilities. The study’s authors investigated whether these factors could lead to greater mentor satisfaction in their relationship with their mentee. This study has important implications for mentor retention and agency support.


81 mentors from the Brother/Sister program in Minnesota (not part of the Big Brother/Big Sister program) took part in this study. Surveys were completed in person, by mail, and by e-mail. The mentors were also interviewed about the benefits and barriers in their mentoring relationship.


Higher-quality training and greater confidence in mentoring abilities significantly predicted mentor satisfaction. Perceived agency support was also positively associated with mentor satisfaction. Overall, mentors reported being satisfied with their training, agency support, and having confidence in their mentoring abilities.

Mentors reported that their mentoring relationship was mutually beneficial and that the mentees seemed to enjoy it. When asked about barriers, mentors mentioned scheduling conflicts, communication problems, mentee’s parents, and being unsure about how to begin the relationship.


This study highlights the importance of quality training, perceived agency support, and mentors’ confidence in their mentoring abilities. The next steps, as suggested by the authors, would be to identify what kinds of training and agency support are most helpful, and to consider the ideal amount of ongoing training hours and agency support.


Training programs provide support surrounding mentors’ concerns in how to begin a relationship with their mentees, especially before beginning meeting the mentee. Ongoing support could be provided in the form of agency follow-up as well as peer support groups for mentors to share concerns and issues. Agency support could be more frequent in the beginning of a relationship to provide more support in the critical beginning stages of a mentoring relationship, before tapering off in order to allow mentors and mentees to develop independently.

Information and resources about quality training

Mentoring Central (evidence-based online training for mentoring)

MENTOR State Mentoring Partnerships (tools and technical assistance)

Summarized by UMB clinical psychology student Max Wu