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Literature Review

AN ACADEMIC REVIEW OF 23 LITERATURE SOURCES COVERING THE TOPIC OF MENTORING

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Literature Review: Welcome

In this literature review, 23 pieces of content are used as a basis to explore and correlate mentoring in several knowledge areas. The primary three knowledge areas: the role of trust in mentoring relationships; how organizations can have mentoring become a part of their culture by adopting a mentoring mindset; and   mentoring in a post-pandemic working setting are covered in-depth in the knowledge areas of this website. Although many of the findings for these three areas were taken from the literature review, that information is not replicated in this section. Instead, this section explores the additional findings from the literature review.
 

Literature Review: Welcome
Literature Review: Work


 
Common Themes from the Literature Review
In addition to the three primary knowledge areas, there were a number of themes that were common in the literature pieces reviewed. These are synthesized below:

There is a Distinction Between Mentoring and Coaching
Rolfe calls a coach someone who trains, tutors, or prepares an individual for improved skill and performance. She calls a mentor a person who guides and stimulates an individual’s reflection and actions for improved personal and professional outcomes (Rolfe, 2021). Additionally, mentoring goes beyond helping individuals, as it contributes to the long-term health of the organization as a social system. Mentoring creates deep sensors within the organization as mentors become more aware of the sentiments, morale, and attitudes within the organization. Choosing mentors is a complex process that needs to be approached correctly. Also, mentoring is not applicable to only entry-level employees. There are also downsides to mentoring that should be addressed (Wilson and Elman, 1990).

 
So it seems that the distinction between mentoring and coaching is related to the outcome trying to be achieved. A coach is fixed on skills training, where a mentor is much more focused on expanding the mentee’s views and ability to understand and appropriately handle various situations that will come his/her way.
 
The Impact of Mentoring
Each of the literature pieces clearly point to solid benefits and impact associated with mentoring. Ivey and Dupré do the best job at calling out the positives, citing numerous studies and sources. Their research suggests that employees who receive mentoring are more prone to rapid advancement or promotions, elevated earnings, performance evaluations, and greater position power. Subjective outcomes linked to mentoring include enhanced organizational commitment, job satisfaction, career satisfaction, and career progress expectations, as well as reduced turnover intentions, work–family conflict, and work alienation. From a health and well-being perspective, mentoring has been attributed to greater well-being, including reduced levels of role stress and burnout. Although most mentoring outcomes were revealed through cross-sectional research, they are largely supported by several meta-analyses (Ivey & Dupré, 2020). 
 
In one study of medical residents, some impactful specific benefits were noted. It was found that the majority of mentored residents described benefits from the relationship, with 70% of residents describing a meaningful impact on professional development and 57% describing a beneficial effect on personal development. The residents also described receiving helpful advice on career decisions (61%), clinical work (61%), and research (38%), with a smaller percentage describing assistance finding a position after residency (32%) or guidance when facing disappointment or failure (25%) (Ramanan et al., 2006).
 
The Distinction Between Formal and Informal Mentoring
A common conclusion is that informal mentoring is something that happens mainly by chance, where the relationship builds organically. Informal mentoring provides a source of useful information and is often a place where the mentor simply lets the mentee think out loud, whereas formal mentoring relationships are usually part of a structured program. (Rolfe, 2021).

 
Formal and informal mentoring can certainly co-exist. Consider the welcoming role of a mentor. While the relationship may be less formal, the structure of the welcoming process of a new mentee can be more formal and structured. The mentor's focus in welcoming is to introduce the mentee to the workplace culture and suggest ways the mentee can successfully engage in it. This would include explaining cultural norms (e.g., on time vs. not on time), introducing the mentee to team members, and explaining basic role expectations and success factors (Jakubik et al., 2016).

Author, and thought leader Simon Sinek, describes the informal mentor relationship as something more like a friendship. He states, “You can’t just go up to a random stranger and ask, ‘will you be my mentor?’ Just as you can’t walk up to a random stranger and ask, ‘will you be my friend?’ That’s not how it works. Mentor relationships evolve because a mentor makes time for you” (Sinek, 2020).
 
Mentoring is a Complex Concept that Should be Considered from a Number of Perspectives
Mentoring complexities include things like mentoring schemes, mentoring cultures, and mentoring techniques (Megginson, et al., 2006). Megginson makes it clear that successful mentoring goes well beyond simplified conversations. It is essential that definition be put forward to ensure mentorship success. These include how mentors can best assist mentees to participate in constructive interpersonal dialogues during the mentoring experience; mapping out attainable personal and professional goals; analyzing problems; formulating realistic solutions, and making constructive decisions (Cohen, 1999).

 
Mentorship Needs to be Expanded if its Impact will Reach the Mainstream Population While mentorship is a common concept, Shirley Liu talks of the positive results that could be achieved if more people took on the role of mentor. She plays this out by considering the power and reach of just a 1% increase in worldwide mentors (Liu, 2019). Related to the need for expansion, there is also the existence of the dark side of mentoring. This refers to challenges such as mentor access, negative relationships, and ethics (Ivey & Dupré, 2020).

The Need to Recognize the Various Phases of Mentorship
Mentoring typically occurs over four phases: (a) initiation: mentor and mentee selection, (b) cultivation: mentoring functions peak, and both mentors and mentees realize the benefits of the relationship, (c) separation: the relationship ends due to job change or geographic dispersion, and (d) redefinition: the mentoring relationship evolves into a peer-like friendship (Ivey & Dupré, 2020). A look at these various mentoring phases show that the phases exist in both informal and formal mentoring relationships.

Literature Review: Bio
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