Improving Mentoring Outcomes: Examining Factors Outside the Relationship



Date of this version


Document Type



Formal Mentoring, Organization Support, Employee Engagement


Given the prevalence of formal mentoring programs in organizations and research findings of unequal outcomes for formal mentees, it is important for organizations and academics to understand what is associated with positive formal mentoring outcomes. Research into this issue has focused on characteristics of mentors, mentees, the relationship, and the program. However, little work has examined job and organization-level contexts that the training literature suggests are essential to consider. Therefore, this study examines whether a mentees’ ability to practice what they are learning (job context) and organization-level mentoring support satisfaction(organization-level context) are related to two outcomes -- competency development and employee engagement – which are important to organizations that sponsor formal mentoring programs. In order to examine this matter, a unique sample of 312 mentees from 24 organizations who participated in the same year-long mentoring process was analyzed using multi-level modeling techniques. Interestingly, while competency development was related to skill practice, in order for organizations to fully reap the benefits of the formal mentoring program through employee engagement, satisfactory organization-level mentoring support was also required. This pattern of results was supported bythe mediation results, finding that skill practice affected employee engagement both directly and indirectly through competency development. These results suggest that organizations facilitate mentees’ opportunities to use what they are learning and work to gain satisfactory organization-level support for them. Future research should focus on understanding antecedents of organization-level support satisfaction as well as other job and organization-level factors.

Published in

Journal of Managerial Issues