Theses Doctoral

The Experience of the Mentor in a Formal Workplace Mentoring Program

Lee, Anne

This qualitative case study was designed to explore how mentors in a formal mentoring program perceive their experience. The study is based upon the following assumptions: (1) mentors have experienced challenges; (2) mentors have had positive experiences in a mentoring dyad; (3) mentors will share their experiences; (4) the organization evaluates mentoring efforts by analyzing the mentees’ outcomes only; and (5) the organization offers support to the mentor.
The site for the study was a global retailer located in New York, New York that had a formal mentoring program. The primary sources of data were: in-depth interviews with 19 former mentors, a focus group, and a document review.
Mezirow (1990) proposed a process that one undergoes in a transformative learning event. In his model, individuals must have a dialogue with trusted others for support as they examine their prior roles. Therefore, it can be assumed that having a mentor could be instrumental in one’s transformative learning experience (Brookfield, 1987). Daloz (2000) proposed that for a transformative learning event to occur, there must be “the presence of the other, reflective discourse, a mentoring community, and opportunities for committed action” (p. 112). These concepts provided a construct for analysis and synthesis of the research findings.
Although this study sought to examine how mentors perceived their role, a key finding revealed that participants were motivated by the desire to gain visibility. This impetus shaped their experience greatly. Further, the findings identified three categories of mentors: (1) those who accepted the role to appease management and possessed no desire to be a mentor, hence termed the Disgruntled: (2) those who were invested to the organization and had a desire to help others, and thus are Believers; and (3) those that were invested in the relationship, but had personal agendas for being in the role, called the Politicos.
The primary recommendation from this study is that human resources need to be thoughtful in how they structure and monitor the mentoring dyad. This includes allowing participation in the program to be voluntary, providing training, and checking in with each member throughout the duration of the engagement.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Volpe, Marie
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 27, 2019