Esse texto é parte de um trabalho realizado duante o mestrado em POT. O trabalho era mais amplo, uma espécie de Estado da Arte da pesquisa sobre Programas de Mentoring. Mas a parte aqui extraída é aquela que escrevi e refere-se à aferição de eficácia dos programas. Coloco essa passagem pois a mesma ilustra o rigor que devemos ter para atribuir causalidade de modo seguro, embora muitos vejam uma mera correlação como evidência última de que A causa B.
As we have seen in previous sections, a great amount of research has been dedicated to several aspects of mentoring. However, despite the increasing use of mentoring as a development tool in organizations, findings have failed to systematically demonstrate the effectiveness of such practice (Allen, Eby, Poteet & Lima, 2004; Underhill, 2006). Thus, approaching mentoring effectiveness constitutes a strong trend of this field of research.
Allen, Eby, Poteet and Lima (2004) identified two major types of studies that examined the benefits of mentoring for protégés and considered both for their metaanalysis. The first one included studies that compared the outcomes across mentored and non-mentored individuals. The second type of studies consists on attempts to correlate mentoring functions (career and psychosocial mentoring) and protégés’ outcomes.
In an attempt to summarize literature on formal mentoring, Allen, Eby and Lentz (2006b) showed that most studies tend to a) compare formal and informal mentorships, b) examine mentor functions and protégé outcomes and c) compare those with formal mentors and those without mentors. Underhill (2006) points the lack of research comparing mentored and nonmentored groups of individuals. Such comparison, she argues, is fundamental to assess the effectiveness of mentorships. Although scholars recognize the importance of evaluating the benefits of mentoring, research on that issue appears to be relatively disperse and unconclusive.
Researchers have considered a wide variety of benefits associated with mentoring. Several criterion variables to evaluate mentorship effectiveness have been used. Allen et al (2004) divided them into objective and subjective outcomes. Within the first group are such variables as number of promotions and income (Wallace, 2001; Chao, 1997) or protégé performance (Tonidandel, Avery & Phillips, 2007). Subjective outcomes are those such as career clarity for protégés (Wanberg, Kammeyer-Mueller & Marchese, 2006) mentoring functions, role modelling and mentorship perceived quality (Allen, Eby & Lentz, 2006), perceived program effectiveness (Allen, Eby & Lentz, 2006b), organizational socialization (Chao, 1997) and so forth.
It is also important to note that most of current and past research has been centred on protégé-related outcomes, although some have considered the potential benefits of such a relationship for mentors as well (e.g. Wanberg, Kammeyer-Mueller & Marchese, 2006).
The list of factors influencing the success of mentoring relationships seems even longer. For instance, Allen, Eby and Lentz (2006b) considered mentor commitment and program understanding as mediators on the relationship between program design features (e.g. training, match input, voluntary participation, etc.) and program outcomes, namely, perceived program effectiveness for both mentors and protégés. They found that training quality had both direct and indirect effects on the outcomes measured for both parties of the mentoring dyad. Moreover, they also found match input – the extent to which protégés and mentors participate on the matching process – to influence perceived effectiveness of the program through mentor commitment and program understanding.
Tonidandel et al (2007) found support for the influence of amount of mentoring and length of relationship on protégés’ subsequent performance, though such effects were moderated by mentor success. In other words, being under orientation of a successful mentor for a long time fostered positive outcomes for mentees. On the other hand, a long relationship with an unsuccessful mentor had a detrimental effect on protégé’s performance.
Wanberg, Kammeyer-Mueller and Marchese (2006) focused on personality aspects (proactivity and openness to experience) of both mentors and protégés and their influence on mentoring outcomes. They found support for the association of mentor’s proactivity and protegé’s perceived similarity to one’s mentor with the amount of mentoring received during the program.
In summary, not only criterion variables but also predictors are diverse, and thus, they vary among the many existing researches on the topic of mentorship. Such diversity poses great difficulty in evaluating the effectiveness of mentoring. There have been recent efforts to summarize and evaluate the findings derived from this growing field of research. For our purpose, meta-analysis studies provide a good picture of the strength of results regarding mentoring effectiveness. Therefore, we analysed two examples of these meta-analitical studies by Allen, Eby, Poteet and Lima (2004) and Underhill (2006), which we intend to describe respectively.
Allen et al (2004) established a division regarding mentorship outcomes. After gathering previous papers, they separated the benefits in objective and subjective outcomes and compared the influence of both mentoring functions (career and psychosocial) on such outcomes. They found that both career and psychosocial mentoring were positively related with career outcomes. However, there appeared to be much stronger relationships between mentor functions and subjective career outcomes (e.g. career satisfaction, job satisfaction) than with objective career outcomes (e.g. promotions, income).
Moreover, they analysed studies comparing groups of mentored and nonmentored individuals. Findings revealed strong effects of mentorship on career commitment, expectation for advancement and career satisfaction. Mentored individuals showed more affective reactions to work and positive psychological feelings towards their career than those who had not been mentored. Similarly, Underhill (2006) emphasized studies that used comparison between mentored and non-mentored individuals. The overall effect sizes supported previous results by Allen et al (2004), namely, mentored individuals had career outcomes improved when compared to non-mentored individuals. However, she added to analysis comparisons between formal and informal mentoring. Informal mentoring produced larger and more significant effects on career outcomes than formal programs did.
Despite many findings helping to support the idea that mentoring benefits individuals and organizations involved, many questions arise. First, it is not clear, as Underhill (2006) stated, that the outcomes analysed in many studies are due to participation on mentoring relationships. A simple question to formulate is whether those individuals, who participated on mentoring relationships and showed improved career outcomes, could report the same results if they had not been mentored at all?
Allen, Poteet and Russel (2000) reminds us of the possibility that mentors likely choose (once they have the opportunity) those protégés with promising careers, or those who are viewed as having a wide range of competencies, rather than those who actually need help to improve their career. If that is so, how much variance of these protégés’ success could be explained by the actual participation on mentorships?
Moreover, the focus on protégés is a major feature of mentoring research. As Tonidandel et al (2007) showed, little research has focused on mentors. Such feature lies on the assumption that any mentor is a good mentor. What their study demonstrated is that mentors can also have a detrimental effect on protégés outcomes. Another study leading to caution on interpreting the results of mentoring programs is that carried on by Raabe and Beehr (2003), who found no significant relationships between mentoring and mentee outcomes (such as job satisfaction, turnover intentions and organizational commitment). In contrast, such variables appeared to be influenced by supervisor and coworker relationships.
In summary, many questions remain unanswered regarding mentoring effectiveness. In order to solve some of the issues raised by recent research it is crucial first to gather more results indicating that mentored and non-mentored individuals differ significantly (Underhill, 2006, Allen, Eby, Poteet & Lima, 2004)). However, as the findings of Allen et al (2000) suggest, if the personal characteristics that make a protégé desirable for mentors are the very same as those that lead to career success, then research comparing non-mentored and mentored individuals says very little about mentoring effectiveness. As Underhill (2006) stated, “more research is needed that compares characteristics of protégé and non-protégés and whether individual characteristics or receipt of mentoring is the catalyst for improved career outcomes” (p.304)
Also, in order to avoid confirmation bias, it is important to carry on research that aims to compare the effects of mentorship with the effects of other existing forms of relationships in work environments, such as those established with coworkers or supervisors (e.g. Raabe & Beehr, 2003), rather than only focusing on the dyad formal versus informal mentoring programs.
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