Research co-authored by Michael Gill, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford has found that acting as a mentor to junior colleagues can help reduce the anxiety of the mentor.
The benefits of mentoring to a mentee have been established by previous studies. However, when the co-authors explored the effects of a formal mentoring programme in a constabulary of the English police force, they found that mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety as well as a sense of greater meaning in their work.
The research has published against a backdrop of growing concern over the scale of Britain’s mental health crisis, with annual expenditure on healthcare for mental illness reaching up to £14 billion in England alone.
During their research, the authors established that the mentoring programme
1. provided a unique space for the discussion and normalisation of personal anxiety or concerns;
2. created a source of counselling content, enabling officers to share ideas or techniques to manage their mental health;
3. made the work of the senior police officers more meaningful.
These three themes became more significant as the relationship between the mentor and mentee progressed.
Does this mean mentoring could also help professionals in other walks of life, such as senior managers in fast paced companies?
‘We have to be careful about generalising,’ stated Gill. ‘We think, however, that because senior people within companies are usually rushed off their feet, their opportunities to interact with junior colleagues become limited. Yet it is precisely these junior colleagues who can benefit the most from such interactions, across many different settings. We suggest that mentors experience their work as more meaningful when they see how junior colleagues benefit and that this may be true in other contexts too.’
Read the paper: