Mentoring: Effectiveness for Mentors

This post is part of a series examining research and theory on mentoring and coaching from the perspective of mentoring school videoconference coordinators.

Article Reference
Allen, T. D., & Eby, L. T. (2003). Relationship effectiveness for mentors: Factors associated with learning and quality. Journal of Management, 29(4), 469-486.

Mentor Picture from Creative Commons @ Flickr

This study examined the mentor relationship from the mentor’s perspective. They received surveys from 249 mentors in the accounting and engineering professional fields. They found that in mentor pairs, perceived similarity between the mentor and protégé related significantly to mentorship quality and mentorship learning. They also found that the duration of the mentorship affected the importance of perceived similarity – it was more important in shorter mentorships than longer mentorships. Gender similarity was found to be not significantly related to mentorship quality and learning.

The authors reference Kram (1985) suggesting that a reward of mentorship is to shape the other person to see characteristics of themselves in that person. Mentors desire to create a mirror image of themselves to fulfill generativity needs. However, in a mentor relationship of  a longer duration, the perceived similarity is not as important for the mentor’s sense of benefit from the relationship.

Application to VC
As I read this article, particularly with it’s emphasis on the mentor learning from the protégé, I found myself thinking of those who mentored me, such as Sue Porter, co-founding mother of TWICE; Arnie Comer, who taught me how to run the ASK program for my schools. I thought about how I’ve mentored others (you know who you are!) in scheduling and organizational tips for videoconferencing, in the ASK program, in running projects for your schools. There’s also the mentoring the goes on in Jazz – in all directions! We are always learning new strategies, new training tips, new resources, new technology tools, new VC project formats from each other, whether new Jazz facilitators or old-timer lead facilitators.

All of my mentoring has been voluntary, which this study referred to as “informal.” Most (if not all) of my mentoring relationships result in more videoconferences for my schools. To me, this is a huge benefit of mentoring in my work. I’ll say it again: The more people you know, the more videoconferences you can do!

I learn from the people I mentor as well: new technology tools, new formats for projects, new ways to facilitate videoconferences, new ways to teach best practices to our schools.

I thought the perceived similarity part of the study was interesting. What similarities do I see in my mentors and mentees?

  • We all have a passion for education.
  • We’re all dedicated to bringing quality learning experiences to kids.
  • We all have a collaborative / giving / sharing spirit.
  • We all believe in constructivist learning.
  • We all believe in life-long learning – WE keep learning!
  • We all like to CREATE programs and events for kids.
  • Most of us are on Twitter and Skype. Ok I just had to throw that in! I’m sure no one has done a study on if twitter can be a communication vehicle for mentoring!!

These are also the characteristics that I want to see replicated in others, so that curriculum videoconferencing can be expanded throughout the world.

Your Turn
So, think about it! How are YOU mentoring others or being mentored? Is there another VC coordinator somewhere in your area or elsewhere that you’ve found during a collaborative project? Who can you continue to learn with & from?

The trick then, is to keep doing projects together, to VC and chat about how things are going once in a while, to ask questions such as “how do you do this or that”?

Please comment… how are you learning with others?

0 replies on “Mentoring: Effectiveness for Mentors”

  1. I think your word choice for the invitation to comment is interesting, “how are you learning with others?” I encountered an individual in a learning environment a couple of weeks back who kept saying, “No one will train me.” “How can I get training” or other variations on the theme of someone TEACHING her. I did not hear a mention of LEARNING. I thought that was significant.

    Anyway, back to mentoring. Does this statement “However, in a mentor relationship of a longer duration, the perceived similarity is not as important.” mean that the longer the relationship, the more likely that the protege will develop more significantly different characteristics/style from the mentor?

    I think your mention of Skype/Twitter leads into the mentoring community of Jazz. Is there such a thing as a “mentoring community”?

  2. Roxanne – thanks for the comment – and the story. What do you think (any of you reading) makes the difference in our understanding of “teach it to me” vs. “learn this with me”? Is it a belief about the nature of learning and knowledge? I’m not sure. I’ll be thinking about this more.

    I fixed that sentence above – thanks for the question. The authors were talking about the importance of perceived similarity in the context of whether the mentor felt they received a benefit from the relationship – also learned from the relationship.

    A “mentoring community” – it’s like situated learning, isn’t it? I noticed a tweet from NECC go by (can’t find it now) of someone saying that we need to be focusing on teaching the newbies the tools instead of just presenting new tools each year. I thought that was interesting. How does the Web 2.0 community “mentor” so that instruction changes? Are there other communities out there like “Jazz” where teachers go away enabled to change the instruction in their classroom?

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