From the ordinary to the extraordinary: High-quality mentoring relationships at work

The mantras that “Everyone who makes it has a mentor,” “Good managers are good mentors,” and “Mentor for excellence!” permeate the workplace. Mentoring relationships are expected to deliver exceptional outcomes that develop employees, improve their performance, and propel their careers.

However, like other relationships, mentoring relationships fall along a continuum, with the majority reflecting average quality. Yet average relationships are unlikely to produce the exceptional performance and personal growth outcomes that are often expected by organizations and employees.

Extraordinary outcomes require extraordinary relationships, so how do we move mentoring from the ordinary to the extraordinary?
Mentoring can be one of the most fulfilling and transformative relationships we experience at work, but we need to broaden our lens to find the path to these high-quality relationships. Relational mentoring illuminates the path for creating high-quality mentoring relationships at work.

High-quality mentoring relationships are close relationships characterized by trust, disclosure, vulnerability, and commitment. These relationships offer exceptional opportunities for personal learning, growth and discovery for both mentors and protégés. By illuminating the dynamics in high-quality mentoring, relational mentoring helps us visualize and ultimately move our mentoring relationships from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Relational mentoring takes us well beyond traditional approaches that cast mentors as coaches, advisors, or teachers. In high-quality mentoring relationships, both members are transformed and changed in ways that reflect an entirely different set of psychological processes, norms, and behaviors.

As we will discover, high-quality mentoring relationships also offer more than just instrumental outcomes relating to advancement or promotion. They provide safe havens that accept us for who we are, giving us the freedom to find our best and authentic selves. Their reach extends well beyond the workplace, as they can give us the courage to forge new career paths and identities. As we will see, they also offer important and unique benefits for a diverse workforce and afford opportunities to learn about diversity within and outside the workplace.

A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Gender Differences in Mentoring

With regard to access to mentoring, it has been suggested that women face greater barriers than do men when attempting to develop a mentoring relationship (e.g., Noe, 1988a;Ragins, 1997). For example, Noe (1988a) points out that female employees may face lack of access to information networks, tokenism, stereotypes and attributions, socialization prac-tices, and other barriers that may prevent access to mentoring relationships.

Ragins and Sundstrom (1989) describe individual, interpersonal, organizational, and societal barriersthat may deter women from developing mentoring relationships. Male proléges with female mentors were significantly less likely than all other gender combinations to report that their mentor provided acceptance roles.

Furthermore, according to social role theory, men and women are more comfortable with behaviours that are consistent with their identity(Bem,1974). For example, because the feminine gender role encourages women to be compassionate and nurturing, women tend to have greater comfort with intimacy, which would suggest that they have greater comfort with psychosocial mentoring than men. Conversely, agentic relationships are associated more withmen because of their position of greater power within organizations. Consequently, menmay be more comfortable with career mentoring than females.

The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEM

Many definitions of mentoring and mentorship appear in the literature.b Having reviewed the literature, the committee developed the following definition of mentorship as a common starting point for STEMM practitioners and researchers, as well as for the purposes of this report:

Mentorship is a professional, working alliance in which individuals work together over time to support the personal and professional growth, development, and success of the relational partners through the provision of career and psychosocial support.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Mentor Functions and Outcomes: A Comparison of Men and Women in Formal and Informal Mentoring Relationships

We predicted (Hy pothesis 5) that individuals in same-gender mentoring relationships would report more psychosocial functions than individuals in cross-gender relationships. We tested this hypothesis by using the Duncan's Multiple Range test.

The adjusted group means for all gender combinations are displayed in Table 5. Although the means gencrally were in the direction predicted, Hypothesis 5 was not supported. How-ever, there was evidence that the gender composition of the relationship affected two psychosocial functions. Specifically, female protégés with female mentors were significantly more likely to report engaging in social activities with their mentors than female protégés with male mentors.

Male proléges with female mentors were significantly less likely than all other gender combinations to report that their mentor provided acceptance roles.

Mentoring experiences of successful women across the Americas

Successful women who had a female mentor tended to have higher psychosocial mentoring scores than successful women who had a male mentor.The psychosocial function was significantly stronger in the USA and Argentina when the mentor was a woman. Age of mentor and psychosocial function score were inversely related across all countries: as age of mentor decreased, the psychosocial function score increased. This relationship between age and mentoring function was especially evident in the USA and Brazil. The age and gender of mentors had no relationship to career mentoring.

Successful women who had a female mentor tended to report higher emotional support from mentors than women with male mentors. Networking groups for women can perhaps help to fulfill needs for emotional support. The findings indicate that the informal nature of networking groups does not detract from their value as a mentoring source. Psychosocial mentoring scores, but not career mentoring scores, were significantly higher among successful women who said they themselves were mentors than those who were not. The analysis showed a significant difference by country in the likelihood that a successful woman would be a mentor.

Pathways for Women to Obtain Positions of Organizational Leadership: The Significance of Mentoring and Networking

Many jobs and career paths are segmented into those which are feminine and those which are masculine. Women may also face cultural issues in foreign assignments that make it more difficult to manage effectively. And most particularly, they face the challenge of resolving the inevitable conflicts between traditional female and family roles and the role of managerial leadership.

One aspect of these role conflicts is the problem of balancing time between the traditional familial and the managerial role, the “work-life balance.” Both male and female senior managers are subject to this conflict, but because women traditionally bear the heaviest load of “family work” in most cultures, men face fewer – and different -- role incongruities and conflicts than do women. Women must resolve these conflicts in several contexts: Preserving the degrees of career and geographic mobility that the path to top leadership may require; sorting priorities at different points in time between the careers in a dual career family unit; dealing with the consequences of career interruptions that are more common among female managers than among male managers; and managing childbirth and child-rearing, neither of which is a traditional male role.

Social learning and the self-efficacy theory

Emphasize Peer Modeling: Learning from examples set by those around you happens at any age (think of how a teacher is a role model for a student but in a similar manner an employer is a model for an employee).

This concept of peer modeling , while it can be applied to any age, is of course especially true for children on the early side of the spectrum, and is most effective when a child’s direct peers (brothers, sisters, parents, teachers, friends) set the example (Bandura, 1988).

High self-efficacy has been linked with numerous benefits to daily life, such as resilience to adversity and stress, healthy lifestyle habits, improved employees performance, and educational achievement.

Value of Near-Peer Mentorship from Protege and Mentor Perspectives: A Strategy to Increase Physician Workforce Diversity

Near-peer relationships between high school and medical students may be an innovative strategy to promote health care careers, increase access to mentorship and develop meaningful mentorship relationships for URiM high school students. Keywords: Healthcare workforce diversity; Mentorship; Near-peer mentoring; Underrepresented in medicine.

Effects of peer-mentoring on stress and anxiety levels of undergraduate nursing students: An integrative review

Review suggested that peer mentoring decreases stress, and situation or short-term anxiety levels of undergraduate nursing students. However, results should be interpreted with caution based on limited studies identified. Keywords: Anxiety; Mentor; Nursing students; Peer; Stress; Undergraduate.

The outcomes of near-peer mentoring programs for first year medical students

Transition into higher education has been identified as one of the most stressful periods for learners. Interventions targeting the transition phase such as near- peer mentoring might help address some of these challenges.

Near-peer-mentoring is a way of promoting professional and personal development. It is also promising to aid transition and maintain well-being of first-year medical students.

Tackling the imposter phenomenon to advance women in neurology

This review highlights recent literature on gender differences in neurology, the definition of the imposter phenomenon, and research on the imposter phenomenon in academic medicine. Approaches for managing the imposter phenomenon are described including personal, mentoring, and institutional strategies.

Positive Value of a Women's Junior Faculty Mentoring Program: A Mentor-Mentee Analysis

Career development, research, and promotion were the top topics discussed among the mentoring pairs, followed by discussions of institutional resources and administration/service. There was high congruency among the mentoring pairs that they thought these discussions, as well as other conversations about mentee professional development and well-being, had been helpful. Our findings demonstrate the value in establishing mentoring programs specifically for women faculty, especially in environments in which other mentoring opportunities do not exist.

The Power of Peer Mentoring to Support Women Pharmacy Faculty Personally and Professionally

Regardless of a faculty member's career stage, effective mentoring is critical for successful professional development and a thriving academic career. Traditional mentor-mentee relationships can be effective but may present challenges for some faculty depending on their individual needs and institutional resources. The use of peer mentoring circles, where group members serve as both mentor and mentee, may provide additional resources and benefits to faculty at all career stages and appear especially beneficial for women faculty because of their focus on interconnectedness and collaboration.

Our findings demonstrate the value in establishing mentoring programs specifically for women faculty, especially in environments in which other mentoring opportunities do not exist.

Scholarly Collaboration, Mentorship, and Friendship: A New Model for Success in Academic Medicine

Mentorship can be one of the most important factors in helping faculty members successfully advance academic careers. Finding effective mentorship, however, is extremely challenging and lack of mentorship may negatively impact productivity, promotion, and retention. Women, in particular, identify lack of mentorship as a major factor inhibiting career advancement, which in turn may be one element contributing to the significant gender gaps existing in academic medicine.

Female peer mentors early in college increase women’s positive academic experiences and retention in engineering

Female mentors promoted aspirations to pursue engineering careers by protecting women’s belonging and confidence. Greater belonging and confidence were also associated with more engineering retention. Notably, grades were not associated with year 1 retention. The benefits of mentoring endured beyond the intervention, for 2 y of college, the time of greatest attrition from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors.

The impact of gender in mentor–mentee success: Results from the Women's Dermatologic Society Mentorship Survey

Mentorship can have a profound impact on the success and happiness of a mentee while also providing a sense of fulfillment and enrichment for the mentor.

A New Direction for Mentorship

Mentorship is a uniquely important human relationship spanning history and culture. Even a casual perusal of art, music, literature, and science shows how mentorship has nurtured creativity and inspiration. Although myriad people go through life without ever having been mentored or mentoring another, growing evidence points to significant psychological benefits in this relationship for both participants.

Mentees gain greater self-esteem, career focus, well-being, and leadership capability (Daloz, 1999; Eby et al., 2008; Grocutt et al., 2020; Kass, 2017; Lee et al., 2020; Van Dam et al., 2018); they may also find their sense of calling validated and strengthened (Ehardt & Ensher, 2021). Mentors experi- ence gains related to generativity in a variety of capacities (Bengtsson & Flisback, 2021; Lodi-Smith et al., 2021; Mendez et al., 2019; Seeman et al., 2020; Villar & Serrat, 2014) and professional development (Hudson, 2013). Evidence exists too concerning economic and career benefits for recipients of mentoring in diverse fields (Allen et al., 2004; Timpe & Lunkenheimer, 2015).

The Benefits of a Near-Peer Mentoring Experience

The necessity of undergraduate research experiences (UREs) for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and science education, is well-estab - lished in the literature (Dolan and Johnson, 2009; Hayward et al., 2017; Hamos et al., 2009; National Academies of Sci- ences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017). Although there are variations on traditional dyadic mentoring, in the typical STEM-URE, the student is considered an apprentice with few opportunities to share knowledge.

The power of relationships in leadership

’The meeting of two people is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.’ Carl Jung