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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mentoring as work-related support : relationship with employee outcomes Schroeder, Klaus Gerhard


This study investigated the relationship between supportive behaviours and employee outcomes. The supportive behaviours were identified in the mentoring literature as being associated with the roles and functions performed by mentors. The term 'supportive' was used in order to recognize that people other than mentors (e.g., co-workers) could provide these behaviours. Questionnaires were used to assess employee outcomes and the level of supportive behaviours received by employees from different members in their organizations. The sample consisted of 624 managerial, technical, supervisory, and professional employees who worked for one of five organizations in British Columbia; 442 employees returned questionnaires. Respondents indicated the extent to which people with whom they had worked had provided them with behaviours associated with the eight supportive functions of Sponsoring, Exposure and Visibility, Teaching the Job, Teaching the Informal System, Protection, Role Modeling, Encouragement, and Personal Counselling. Principal component analysis indicated the presence of one general factor that accounted for over 50% of the variance; separate components for career and psychosocial functions (Kram, 1985) were not found. Principal component analysis indicated that all employee outcomes assessed in the study could be grouped into one of three types of outcomes: Job-Related (job satisfaction, role conflict, role ambiguity, organizational commitment, acceptance by co-workers), Skill Development (job, interpersonal, conceptual), and Promotional (rate of salary increase and promotions, satisfaction with progression). It was hypothesized that the level of supportive behaviours received by employees from as many as three sources would be positively related to all three types of outcomes, but that the relationship would be higher for the Skill Development and Promotional Outcomes than for the Job-Related Outcomes. This hypothesis was only partially supported. Although supportive behaviours were positively and significantly related to all types of outcomes, the relationship between behaviours and the Skill Development Outcomes was significantly higher than the relationships between behaviours and the other two types of outcomes. Failure to find a higher relationship between supportive behaviours and the Promotional Outcomes is discussed in relation to organizational reward systems. The level of supportive behaviours received from sources other than the highest source of supportive behaviours did not explain additional variance in employee outcomes over that explained by the level associated with the highest source alone. Failure to find incremental effects due to additional sources was most likely due to the high correlations (.70 to .80 range) among the level of supportive behaviours received from the different sources. These correlations may have been artifactually inflated because of the instructions that were used concerning which sources of supportive functions respondents were to rate on the supportive behaviours (respondents only rated sources on the supportive behaviours if the sources provided three or more functions). Because a number of hazards and disadvantages have been associated with intense mentor-protege relationships, it was hypothesized that the more evenly supportive behaviours are distributed across sources, the higher would be the employee outcomes. Although the way in which given levels of supportive behaviours were distributed across the sources was unrelated to employee outcomes, the hazards associated with given levels of supportive behaviours were negatively and significantly related to employee outcomes (the Job-Related ones, in particular). Methods for reducing the level of hazards are discussed. The scale that was developed to assess supportive behaviours was found to be reliable, content valid, and construct valid. Possible uses of the scale are discussed.

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