Mentoring experiences: a study of Indian public sector professionals.

AuthorBuddhapriya, Sanghamitra
PositionReport - Abstract


Today's business environment is incredibly fluid and ever-changing and demands a new set of competencies including managing uncertainty, dealing with ambiguity and leading with strategic agility. As the global market for professionals is shrinking and business environment is becoming more volatile and complex business leaders are slowly transitioning to 'a new era of talent spotting'--one in which evaluation of one another is being based 'not on brawn, brains, experience, or competencies, but on potential' (Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, 2014). It is also a tough challenge for companies today to find ways of tapping and utilizing the knowledge base they have, and then sharing that knowledge among the employees. Here, mentoring, as a management process, plays a significant role. Mentoring is a valuable way to transfer knowledge, foster talent, and promote best practices. It is a process of transferring specific knowledge from the mentor to the protege (Hendrikse, 2003). By pairing any new recruit. whether at the entry level or beyond, with a veteran employee, companies can help workers make better contributions to the firm (Coleman & George, 2012). Mentoring programs are a proven method for generating professional interest and commitment to the firm or department (Arms, 2010). According to United States Office of Personnel Management (2008) mentoring has been identified as an important influence in professional development in both the public and private sector organizations.

Positive Outcomes

A large volume of literature is available on mentoring which points to the fact that the process of mentoring benefits the organization as well as both the mentee and the mentors in different ways. This paper primarily focuses on the outcomes of mentoring specific to the proteges or mentees only.

Mentoring has been seen as a key employee development and career management tool in organizations (Finkelstein & Poteet, 2007). It enhances employee skills, aids socialization of an employee to a new work setting and improves career outcomes. Many researchers found a positive relationship between mentoring and career outcomes of mentees such as salary, promotions, career satisfaction, and perceptions of advancement opportunities, to name a few (Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz & Lima, 2004; Eby, Allen, Ng, Eby, Sorensen& Feldman, 2005; Evans, Ng& Dubois, 2008). There are also researches which highlight on the link between career mentoring activities and positive employee outcomes (Allen, Poteet, Russell & Dobbins, 1997; Kammeyer-Mueller & Judge, 2008), including affective organizational commitment (AOC), job involvement and reduced turnover intention (Joiner et al., 2004; Kraimer et al., 2010; Noe, 1988). Research undertaken by Dymock (1999) highlighted on improved understanding of other areas of the company's operations, opportunities for extended networking, a better understanding of their own practices, and the development of personal skills and satisfaction as some of the mentoring outcomes.

A research on the mentoring at Sun Microsystems demonstrated that mentoring had a much higher impact on the bottom 60 per cent of the performers than on the top 40 per cent. The greatest impact was found to be for the bottom 20 per cent, leading to the conclusion that mentoring for lower performers would be a better investment for Sun Microsystems. Results from the research within the company showed higher retention rates for both mentees (72%) and Mentors (69%), when compared to the retention rates of nonparticipants (49%) (Creek, 2010).

Psychosocial and psychological aspects of mentoring play an important role. Psychosocial mentoring represents a deeper, more intense mentoring relationship and often depends more on relationship quality than on career function (Allen et al., 2004). Researches have revealed that in public and private sector organizations, psychosocial support and psychological mentoring have been linked to beneficial protege outcomes, including employee satisfaction, commitment, and lowered turnover intention among employees (Koberg et al., 1998; Raabe & Beehr, 2003; Young & Perrewe, 2000; Reid, Allen, et al., 2008). It may enhance an individual's ability and effectiveness, help alleviate work-related stress (Greiman, 2007), evolve into a strong emotional bond between the mentor and the protege (Kram, 1985), and become a positive, pleasurable interpersonal contact (Raabe & Beehr, 2003). Noe (1988) found that individuals with high levels of job involvement tend to find career mentoring appealing and seek out such relationships.

The benefits for the mentors include improvement in job performance, recognition and visibility, job satisfaction and loyalty and support of the mentee (Ragins & Scandura, 1999; Eby, Durley, Evans & Ragins, 2006). Eby (2007) claims that the benefits to mentors include learning, developing personal relationships and enhancing managerial skills. Mentoring leads to potential benefits for the organization too. Higher attraction among job applicants (Allenand & O'Brien, 2006) organizational commitment (Payne & Huffman, 2005), and talent pool development, performance, and productivity (Ramaswami & Dreher, 2007) are some of the benefits which organizations gain out of mentoring.

Mentoring in India

Mentoring is not a new concept in India. It has been there since ages. In the Hindu epics mentors were seen to be playing a critical role in the lives of their mentees. For example in Ramayana, Lord Ram's mentor was Viswamitra and Lord Krishna acted as the mentor of Arjun during Mahabharata. We have also examples of ancient Indian history about the relationship between young Chandragupta, a great ruler and Kautilya, an effective mentor. The famous gurushishya tradition underscores that mentoring relationships are both culturally and historically deep- rooted in India. There are also references found in other literatures (Neki, 1973; Raina, 2002) to mentoring. However, there is no systematic examination of the dynamics of work-based mentoring among Indians. The paucity of mentoring research among Indians is surprising, given the growing realization of the importance of mentors for individual and organizational leadership.

Though mentoring is an age-old process in India, for augmenting organizational productivity, boosting employee morale, productivity and career development, more and more organizations are now emphasizing on mentoring programs. Growing business investments from the West, combined with India's economic growth (Budhwar & Bhatnagar, 2009; Kapur & Ramamurti, 2001), make mentoring quite relevant in the organizational context in India (Budhwar, 2000, 2001; Aryee, Chen& Budhwar, 2004; Baruch & Budhwar, 2006).With a large number of global companies entering the Indian market, the competition for tapping right talent has significantly intensified among Indian companies, who now have a plethora of organizational options to choose from to deal with problems of employee motivation, commitment, and retention (Ramaswami & Dreher, 2010). For these reasons Bhatnagar (2007) suggested that it was important for managers and employers to focus on career and talent management strategies such as mentoring.

In their study of 'the nature of mentoring relationships in a highly power-distant and collectivistic culture' such as that of India, Ramaswami and Dreher (2010) found that in the case of seventy percent of the respondents their mentors were immediate supervisors or team leaders who were either formally assigned or informally chosen. The results indicated that mentors in India perform career, psychosocial, role modeling, and networking functions and the commonly identified benefits of mentoring for the protege included faster learning curve, security and protection in the organization, and receiving emotional support.

One can assume that mentoring relationships could differ between India and the West, given the difference in the mentoring dynamics. Because of the persistent influence of socio-cultural, economic, and political factors in Indian management and interpersonal relationships (Baruch & Budhwar, 2006; Bhawuk, 2008; Budhwar & Khatri, 2001), mentoring relationships in India could also be different from the West. Hence examining the mentoring experiences of the mentors and mentees in India has important implications for organizations as well as managing mentor-mentee expectations and designing appropriate mentoring programs for organizations. This study's findings will therefore be of interest to HR researchers and practitioners in India and elsewhere.

The Present Study

Over last one decade many public and private sector organizations in India have started mentoring programs to help and develop young employees, which has generated mixed responses. It was realized by the professionals involved in the mentoring process that mentoring effectiveness is greatly dependent on the mentor-mentee relationship. It is very important, nevertheless, to understand the perception of mentors and mentees towards the mentoring process, mentoring outcomes and mentoring effectiveness as they affect the relationship between mentors and mentees.

The present study attempts to provide a fair understanding of the nature of mentoring relationship. It seeks to compare the views of the mentors and the mentees with regard to the "outcomes of the mentoring" process as well as "mentoring effectiveness". It also provides some general suggestions to make the mentoring activities more effective. Hence, the present research has been conducted keeping the following objectives in mind:

* To study the nature of mentoring...

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