Between 2013 and 2015, Dr. Jelena Zikic of York University, in collaboration with TRIEC and The Mentoring Partnership, undertook an in-depth study looking at mentoring relationships. The following is a summary of the findings.
Mentoring is a proven intervention that helps skilled immigrants re-connect with their careers in Canada. This study sought to explore what aspects of the mentoring relationship make for a successful experience for both mentor and the mentee, and how can we further enhance the power of these relationships to improve mentees chances of successful integration into the local labour market.
The study identified three main characteristics of a successful mentoring relationship:
#1: Open communication
Communication competence is of utmost importance for both the mentor and the mentee. The ability to share knowledge and career-related experiences openly with each other and engage in active listening was a key aspect of many successful relationships.
#2: Empathy and compassion
Mentors’ and mentees’ empathy and compassion for each other was imperative for long-lasting and successful partnerships. Successful partners had the ability to share without feeling judged and felt safe while sharing both positive and negative emotions and experiences.
#3: Mutual exchange and reciprocity
Mentoring partnerships that reported the most satisfaction and benefits were those where the mentor and the mentee were both committed and proactive but worked together as equals, sharing information back and forth as well as exchanging expertise at different points in the mentoring process.
The outcomes of successful relationships
In successful relationships that reflect these characteristics, mentees gained specific job search and networking assistance but most importantly they increased their self-confidence and perseverance. Mentors benefited from the relationship as well both in terms of coaching skills and acquiring in depth knowledge about diversity and skilled immigrant professionals. Many mentors also highlighted learning about areas that they needed to improve in their own careers. Most significant was their new appreciation for the value of diversity in the labour market and satisfaction due to assisting someone in need.
About the research
This study was undertaken between 2013 and 2015 by Dr. Jelena Zikic of York University in collaboration with TRIEC and The Mentoring Partnership and supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. One hundred individuals (50 mentors and 50 mentees) took part in the study through an hour-long confidential interview with the researcher on their mentoring experience. The interviews briefly explored the participant’s career experiences overall and then focused on the types of interactions, conversations and experiences of The Mentoring Partnership meetings. The goal of these interviews was to obtain an in-depth understanding about what aspects of the relationship are most beneficial to both parties and what contributes to successful exchange between mentors and mentees.