Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

Assessing Mentoring Culture: Faculty and Staff Perceptions, Gaps, and Strengths

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

Assessing Mentoring Culture: Faculty and Staff Perceptions, Gaps, and Strengths

Article excerpt

Introduction

This research team undertook a snapshot evaluation of mentorship in the health science programs in a postsecondary institution to validate the mentorship teamwork to date and gather data to focus strategic planning for future endeavours. The Mentoring Culture Audit tool was circulated to collect faculty and professional-services staff mentorship perceptions in two postsecondary health science divisions. Mentoring, as differentiated from coaching or role modelling, requires interaction between an experienced and a less-experienced person using formal and/or informal structures to attain personal and professional growth. Formal mentoring structures may be organizationally sanctioned, with supported activities, while informal mentoring relationships develop spontaneously between involved parties (Haynes & Petrosko, 2009). Individuals who receive adequate mentoring have greater satisfaction in the workplace and clearer direction for scholarly endeavours, while organizations benefit from enhanced retention and recruitment; these effects culminate in a richer learning environment for students.

Zachary's (2005) framework was utilized to assess activities of the Mentorship Team, allowing for "diagnosing, analyzing, and prioritizing where the organization can best focus its time and effort in creating a mentoring culture" (p. 266). Focusing a finite amount of resources strategically can assist any organization in enhancing strengths and mitigating gaps in mentoring programs. This article begins with background information on mentoring and mentoring culture assessments, as a stepping stone to comprehending the study's results. We articulate the research questions in the second section, then describe our methodology in the third. The fourth section, on findings, includes a description of Zachary's building blocks and hallmarks, as well as anecdotal mentoring activities within the research practice environment, to assist in portraying the meaning of this study's results. The fifth section covers reliability and other measures. The discussion in section six is followed by concluding statements.

Background

A search of multiple databases across business, education, and health, using the expanded concepts of mentor*, cultur* and eval*, found limited research on the organizational or aggregate levels of evaluating mentoring culture. The most fruitful results from this literature review arose out of hand searches of article reference lists.

In a review of mentoring programs, Zellers, Howard, and Barcic (2008) identified effective programs for higher education institutions seeking to foster an academic culture while respecting the professional development needs of faculty. Mentoring culture was dependent on context, which underpinned programs and reflected differences, thereby limiting comparison among the seven studies reviewed. A list of success factors for these mentoring programs included: visibility of leaders; alignment of personal, professional, and organizational goals; and availability of resources-all of which related to organizational culture. Wanberg, Welsh, and Hezlett's (2003) review of empirical research set the stage for understanding the scope of mentor program evaluation. They found that most research focused on outcomes for mentees rather than for mentors or organizations. The majority of research reported on informal or formal relationships and factors, such as increased job satisfaction, but were limited in validity for what was attributed to mentoring. Despite the assertion that formal mentoring programs had the potential to be management- or leadership-development tools for organizations, research actually focused on how well a given program socialized new employees to the business. Wanberg and colleagues suggested that evaluation should be at an aggregate level that includes all stakeholders to better understand the net outcome. They discussed how formal mentoring programs are enhanced by an organizational culture that supports continuous learning and values mentoring; they also proposed that mentoring should communicate those values through supervisor supports, development opportunities, and appropriate compensation. …

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