Three Years On: Mentoring at the Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada

Highlights

  • Data from the administrative database of the National Mentoring Program (NMP) reveal that as of March 31, 2011, a total of 448 associates and 341 mentors from the Department of Justice Canada (JUS) had been matched. In addition, 37 associates and 29 mentors from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) had been matched. A quarter (25%) of those registered in the NMP from JUS and 13% of those from PPSC self-identified as belonging to one of three Employment Equity groups (Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities).
  • For this study, 160 associates and 118 mentors (36% of those matched from JUS and PPSC) responded to an electronic survey. In-depth interviews were also conducted with 24 individuals. Of the survey respondents who chose to self-identify, 36% of associates and 15% of mentors were members of an Employment Equity group.
  • Almost three-quarters of associates (74%) and mentors (75%) were satisfied or very satisfied with the NMP. Among Employment Equity group members, 75% of associates and 76% of mentors were satisfied or very satisfied with the NMP.
  • The majority of associates (80%) and mentors (86%) indicated that they would recommend the NMP to others.
  • The majority of associates (84%) and mentors (88%) indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their mentoring relationship. Among Employment Equity group members, 82% of associates and 93% of mentors were satisfied or very satisfied with their mentoring relationship.
  • More than half (60%) of the associates surveyed stated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the matching process.
  • Approximately one-third of respondents who completed the electronic survey indicated that they had not used the services provided by the NMP, including the intranet site, the orientation sessions and various NMP staff services.
  • Associates and mentors in current and ended mentoring relationships stated that they experienced a number of benefits from their mentoring relationships. Mentors stated that they did not experience any costs associated with their participation in the program.
  • Survey respondents and those who participated in the in-depth interviews provided useful suggestions as to how to improve the NMP and mentoring. Examples include: staying in touch with associates and mentors after the Orientation session; informal and formal training on topics like coaching vs. mentoring, how to end a relationship, and other similar topics; networking opportunities with other mentors and or other associates; and acknowledgement of the time and energy committed by mentors to their relationships.

Executive Summary

In October 2008, the National Mentoring Program (NMP) was launched for the Department of Justice (JUS) and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC). The National Mentoring Program defines mentoring as: “… a learning relationship in which both the mentor and the associate have an opportunity to share and grow in both their professional and personal capacities” (NMP Orientation Guide 2011, 3). Mentoring is a departmental priority and the goal of the NMP is to facilitate the creation of a supportive relationship. The NMP's objectives are three-fold:

  1. To foster learning through the transfer of knowledge;
  2. To create a more diverse and inclusive workplace; and
  3. To develop leaders of today and tomorrow.

The NMP is designed as a facilitated program in that while it provides some assistance and structure, responsibility for the success of the mentoring relationship lies with the mentors and associates (NMP Orientation Guide 2011, 2).

For the fiscal year 2011-2012, the NMP is focusing on the development and implementation of an automated matching program. From its many indicators of success, the NMP has selected three that will guide its work in the short term. These are:

  1. Meeting the NMP 90-day matching service standard;
  2. Achieving an 80% overall satisfaction rate amongst participants; and
  3. Improving job satisfaction amongst participants.

The purpose of this project was to better understand the impact of the NMP for associates and mentors in the Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. There were four main research questions addressed in this study that were developed around three indicators of success:

  1. What is the overall satisfaction with the National Mentoring Program for mentors and associates?
  2. What is the overall satisfaction with mentoring relationships for mentors and associates?
  3. What are some of the benefits of the NMP (as an associate or as a mentor)? For example,
    1. Has it improved job satisfaction? If so, how?
    2. Has it led to new career development opportunities? If so, how?
    3. Has it helped mentors/associates feel more connected to JUS/PPSC? If so, how?
    4. Has it helped mentors/associates think in different ways about the issues with which they – as a mentor or associate - are dealing?
    5. Has it increased understanding of corporate values? Etc.
    6. Has it helped to keep individuals working at JUS/PPSC?
    7. Have mentors/associates broadened their network of contacts? If so, why is this important?
    8. Was the NMP a factor in a decision to join JUS/PPSC?
  4. What are some of the costs of such a relationship (as an associate, as a mentor, as both)? Examples of costs could be the time required, negative feelings (frustration, etc.) when progress is not being made or there are other issues.

Methodology

Data for this study were collected in July and August of 2011. Data were collected through three main sources:

  1. An electronic survey completed by 160 associates and118 mentors who were currently in, or who had been in, a mentoring relationship. More than a third (36%) of those who were sent the survey responded. Of the respondents who chose to self-identify, 36% of associates and 15% of mentors were members of an Employment Equity group (Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, visible minorities). The electronic survey included questions on the NMP and on the respondents' satisfaction with the NMP;
  2. In-depth interviews with 15 associates and 9 mentors that included questions on benefits and costs of the NMP and mentoring and suggestions for the NMP; and
  3. The National Mentoring Program's administrative database, which provided demographic information on the NMP's participants and the number of members who were not matched within 90 days.

Study Findings

Information on the National Mentoring Program

Data from the National Mentoring Program's administrative database revealed that as of March 31, 2011, there were 957 individuals from JUS who had registered as a participant or member in the NMP, which represents 17% of the total 5,659 JUS employees and managers.Footnote 1 The number of individuals participating in the NMP from JUS and PPSC has been increasing consistently since it was launched in October 2008. For the PPSC, one tenth (11%) of that organization was participating in the NMP or 104 individuals out of 975.

In terms of matches, there were 448 associates and 341 mentors from the Department of Justice Canada had been matched. In addition, 37 associates and 29 mentors from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada had been matched. A quarter (25%) of those registered in the NMP from JUS and 13% from PPSC self-identified as belonging to one of three Employment Equity groups (Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities).

The survey respondents revealed that they became aware of the NMP through a number of different sources, including the NMP brochure and recommendations from colleagues and managers.

The results that follow combine both JUS and PPSC participants.

Satisfaction with the National Mentoring Program

Almost three-quarters of associates (74%) and mentors (75%) were satisfied with the NMP and 60% of the associates surveyed stated that they were satisfied with the matching process. Among Employment Equity group members, 75% of associates and 76% of mentors were satisfied or very satisfied with the NMP.

In addition, the vast majority of associates (80%) and mentors (86%) indicated that they would recommend the NMP to others.

The survey respondents were also asked to rate the usefulness of the intranet site, the orientation sessions and the National Mentoring Program staff. While many of the respondents found that these NMP services were useful, many participants had not used the services. The respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with NMP staff services, particularly whether requests were promptly acknowledged, whether NMP staff focused on the participants' needs and whether the NMP staff were knowledgeable. Over 40% of associates and mentors were satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided by the NMP staff. Approximately one third of associates (28-33%) and almost half of mentors (42-45%) did not use the NMP staff services.

Current Mentoring Relationships

The majority of associates (89%) and mentors (84%) who responded to the survey are currently in a mentoring relationship. Many of these associates (39%) and mentors (48%) have been in the mentoring relationship for 1 to 2 years. Just under one quarter (24%) of associates meet with their mentor once every six to ten weeks, and another quarter (24%) of associates meet once every three to four months. One third of mentors indicated that they meet with their associates once a month. The majority of these meetings occur in person and last about one hour.

Associates and mentors indicated a number of benefits of their current mentoring relationships. Almost three-quarters (74%) of associates were satisfied with the progress that they had made toward achieving the goals that they wanted to achieve through the mentoring relationship. Furthermore, a majority of associates stated that the mentoring relationship had helped them think in different ways about work-related issues (76%) and increased their understanding of corporate culture and values (69%). Just under half of associates indicated that the mentoring relationship had improved their job satisfaction (49%). The majority of mentors indicated that mentoring had been a valuable use of their time (93%), had been a learning experience (86%), and helped them feel as though they had something to contribute to the organization (86%). In addition, mentors who participated in the interviews stated that they did not experience any costs as a result of participating in the NMP.

In all, the majority of associates (84%) and mentors (88%) indicated that they were satisfied with their mentoring relationship. Among Employment Equity group members, 82% of associates and 93% of mentors were satisfied or very satisfied with their mentoring relationship.

Ended Relationships

Eighteen associates and 21 mentors were in a mentoring relationship that had ended. There was quite a bit of variability in regard to how long the mentoring relationship had lasted and how frequently the associates and mentors met. As with those in a current mentoring relationship, the majority of associates and mentors in ended relationships had met with their mentor or associate in-person and the majority of meetings lasted about one hour.

Parallel to those in current mentoring relationships, associates and mentors in ended relationships specified a number of benefits associated with their relationship. Of the 13 associates who discussed the goals they wanted to achieve through the mentoring relationship with their previous mentor, many of the associates (n = 8) indicated that they were satisfied with the progress they made on these goals.

Furthermore, associates and mentors in ended relationships described the same benefits of their mentoring relationships as those in current relationships, including an increased understanding of corporate culture and values among associates and among mentors and the feeling that being in a mentoring relationship had been a valuable use of their time. Overall, many associates and mentors in ended relationships were satisfied with their relationship and many said that they would begin another mentoring relationship.

Other Comments and Suggestions

Associates and mentors who participated in the surveys and the interviews provided many important observations and comments that could be used to improve the NMP. Many respondents were unclear as to the purpose of the NMP—that is, the Program itself and not the mentoring relationships—and some indicated that the NMP be further promoted in order to increase awareness. Additionally, some respondents noted the challenges of those in a long distance mentoring relationship and suggested that resources to facilitate an initial face-to-face meeting would be useful for those in these relationships, with different forms of technology being used in additional meetings. Also, the respondents noted that more needs to be done to understand how members of Employment Equity groups are benefitting from the NMP. There was also a genuine concern that as budgets are cut across government, the NMP may be an easy target.

Examples of the suggestions provided for the NMP include: staying in touch with associates and mentors after the Orientation session; informal and formal training on topics like coaching vs. mentoring, how to end a relationship, etc.; networking opportunities with other mentors and or other associates; and acknowledgement of the time and energy committed by mentors to their relationships.

Conclusion

Results from this study indicate that the majority of associates and mentors who responded to the survey are satisfied with the National Mentoring Program itself and with their mentoring relationship. The study respondents indicated a number of benefits of participating in the NMP, and mentors stated that they did not experience any costs associated with their participation in it.

While the results of this study cannot be generalized to the entire NMP, the results of the survey suggest that the National Mentoring Program is meeting its indicators of success to a significant extent. Administrative data indicate that the first indicator of success for the NMP to meet its 90-day standard for matching associates to mentors is being met. The second indicator of achieving an 80% overall satisfaction rates amongNMP participants has also been met. Three-quarters of the respondents stated that they were satisfied with the NMP, with an additional 19% indicating that they were neutral about the NMP. Moreover, more than 80% of participants stated that they were satisfied with their mentoring relationship. Finally, the third indicator of success, for the NMP to improve job satisfaction, also appears to have been met. Of the associates who responded to the survey, almost half (49%) indicated that their mentoring relationship had improved their job satisfaction to a great or some extent, while an additional 21% indicated that it had improved their job satisfaction to a little extent.

Many respondents provided thoughtful and feasible ideas that could be implemented to improve the NMP. There was much enthusiasm amongst the members to see the NMP continue and become even stronger in the belief that a stronger NMP would be better placed to support and strengthen mentoring relationships and foster a culture of mentoring in JUS and PPSC.

Being a mentor has been the most rewarding experience of my work.
- Mentor

The strongest part of my mentoring experience has been my mentor.
 - Associate

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