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Characteristics ascribed to mentors by their proteges

The benefit of mentoring as a strategy to improve workplace learning has been
proclaimed in business and educational research literature for the past two decades. This
study focused on the characteristics ascribed by proteges to their workplace mentors. This
topic has received little serious attention despite the proliferation of research on mentoring.
Data were collected from 1,771 Canadians, most of whom were from Vancouver, British
Columbia. Initially, 1,011 people encountered in public places, such as markets and
shopping centres, completed a pen-and-paper questionnaire in which they were asked to
write three words to describe their mentors. One hundred of these words were put into a
second questionnaire. This was administered to 760 people in various work settings and
training venues. Data were factor analyzed resulting in eight factors: Authenticity,
Volatility, Nurturance, Approachability, Competence, Inspiration, Conscientiousness and
Hard Working. Standardized scale scores were then calculated from the factors and used to
test for differences among various socio-demographic variables. Finally, individual, faceto-
face interviews were conducted with 16 proteges in order to explore how these key
mentoring characteristics manifested themselves in day-to-day work settings.
Irrespective of age, gender or status within their organizations, two-thirds of the
respondents reported having mentors. Mentors were most often older than their proteges
and more than half reported that their mentors were also their bosses. Three-fifths of these
mentors were men. Statistical tests of differences on various socio-demographic variables
and the Dimensions Of Mentoring Inventory (DOMI) highlighted differences between the
perceptions of women and men proteges about their mentors. Women proteges attributed
higher Nurturance scores to mentors than did men, whereas men attributed higher
Competence scores to mentors than did women. Most proteges were in single-gender
relationships, however the 178 (one-fifth) of respondents in cross-gender relationships

showed no differences in characteristics from single-gender relationships. Proteges in
management positions attributed higher Competence scores to mentors than those in nonmanagement
positions. Mentoring relationships with bosses were reportedly of longer
duration, with more bosses aware of their mentoring role than non bosses. Mentor/protege
conflict was infrequent, but when it occurred, the mentors were characterized as Volatile
and Hard Working. Interviews with 16 proteges yielded vignettes of their mentors as they
recounted memorable incidents. Five themes were uluminated through interviews with
proteges. The mentors' belief in their protege's capabilities; a desire on the part of proteges
to be mentored; timing of the relationship; reciprocity; and affinity.
This was a study of mentor characteristics as seen from proteges' points of view.
Further studies utilizing confirmatory factor analysis are needed to verify the factor
structure of mentor characteristics and to test alternative models. Further investigation into
characteristics of mentors, particularly those in the dual role of mentor and boss, and
differences in perceptions between women and men are advisable.
Date11 1900
CreatorsDarwin, Ann
Source SetsLibrary and Archives Canada ETDs Repository / Centre d'archives des thèses électroniques de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
RelationUBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project []

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