Mentoring in the Workplace: A Look at Unsuccessful Mentoring Relationships and their Effect on Women
Mentoring has been used as a tool by organizations for over four decades. Mentoring addresses organizational needs such as socialization, education and training. The mentoring relationship between the mentor and protege has proven especially beneficial for women and minorities. While negative mentoring experiences have been addressed, little had been done to identify specific reasons for the unsuccessful mentoring relationship. Further, the long-term effects of negative mentoring relationships also lacked attention. From a survey conducted, possible factors ofnegative mentoring relationship are identified as well as the effects on the women’s careers and personal lives. There were five major findings from the data collected. First, those reporting an unsuccessful relationship were a minority, only five of the 22 respondents (22.7%). Second, when looking at factors in the unsuccessful relationships, sexual harassment or involvement were not identified, contrary to previous literature. Third, factors that were identified as issues in the unsuccessful relationship include “Unmet expectations”, “Communication” and “Distance”. Fourth, those who were part of an unsuccessful relationship were 80% more likely to leave the organization within two years. Fifth, having an unsuccessful experience did not deter the individuals from continuing to be part of mentoring relationships. While the sample size was small, the data collected is fundamental in addressing the issues that surround unsuccessful mentoring.