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

3. Results (cont'd)

3.4 The Mentoring Relationship

3.4.1 Details of the Mentoring Relationships

The majority of associates (89%; n = 140) and mentors (84%; n = 99) were currently in a mentoring relationship. More than half of the mentors (59%; n = 58) were mentors to one associate, while the remainder were mentors to multiple associates. Among mentors with multiple associates, 54% (n = 22) had two associates, 41% (n = 17) had three associates and a smaller percentage (5%; n = 2) had four associates.

The survey respondents were asked how long they had been in their current mentoring relationship. As shown in Figure 8 below, many associates (39%) and mentors (48%) had been in their current mentoring relationship for more than 1 year to 2 years.

Figure 8: Length of time in current mentoring relationship

Figure 8, chart representing the length of time Associates and Mentors have been in their current mentoring relationship

Figure 8 - Text equivalent

This is a vertical bar chart that illustrates the length of time Associates and Mentors have been in their current mentoring relationship.

The Y axis is measured in percentage and increases in increments of 10 from 0 to 60.

The X axis lists the following options for length of time the respondents had been in their current mentoring relationship, from left to right: Less than 3 months; 4 to 6 months; 7 months to 1 year; More than 1 year to 2 years; Over 2 years. 2% of Associates and 2% of Mentors had been in their current mentoring relationship for less than three months, 14% of Associates and 8% of Mentors had been in their current mentoring relationship for 4 to 6 months; 29% of Associates and 23% of Mentors had been in their current mentoring relationship for 7 months to 1 year; 39% of Associates and 48% of Mentors had been in their current mentoring relationship from more than 1 year to 2 years; and 16% of Associates and 19% of Mentors had been in their current mentoring relationship for over 2 years.

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Associates N = 143; Mentors N = 99

The next set of questions asked respondents about the associate-mentor meetings. As shown in Figure 9 below, most associates meet with their mentors once every six weeks (24%) or once every three to four months (24%). There are differences between the frequency of meetings for mentors and associates because the mentors and associates that responded to the survey were not necessarily in a relationship. Most of the mentors who responded to the survey meet with their associates once a month (33%) or once every three to four months (28%).

Figure 9: Frequency of meetings

Figure 9, chart representing the frequency with which Associates and Mentors meet

Figure 9 - Text equivalent

This is a vertical bar chart that illustrates the frequency with which Associates and Mentors meet.

The Y axis is measured in percentage and increases in increments of 5 from 0 to 35.

The X axis lists the following options for frequency of meetings, from left to right: More than once a month, Once a month, Once every six to ten weeks, Once every three to four months, Once every five months or less often. 14% of Associates and 19% of Mentors said that they meet more than once a month; 22% of Associates and 33% of Mentors said that they meet once a month; 24% of Associates and 15% of Mentors said that they meet once every six to ten weeks; 24% of Associates and 28% of Mentors said that they meet once every three to four months; and 16% of Associates and 5% of Mentors said that they meet once every five months or less often.

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Associates N = 143; Mentors N = 99

There were a few comments from associates that indicated they would have liked more time and or more meetings with their respective mentors:

We both wish we had more time for mentoring.

More get togethers!

As shown in Figure 10 below, the majority of associates and mentors meet with one another in-person. Many of those who responded “other” are those who meet with their mentor/associate through a combination of mechanisms.

Figure 10: How associates and mentors meet

Figure 10, chart representing how Associates and Mentors meet

Figure 10 - Text equivalent

This is a vertical bar chart that illustrates how Associates and Mentors meet.

The Y axis is measured in percentage and increases in increments of 10 from 0 to 90.

The X axis lists the following options for how Associates and Mentors meet: In-person, Email, Telephone, Other, and Not applicable. 75% of Associates and 80% of Mentors said they meet through in-person meetings; 6% of Associates and 2% of Mentors said they meet through email; 17% of Associates and 11% of Mentors said they meet via telephone; 1% of Associates and 6% of Mentors said they meet through “other” means; and 1% of Associates and 1% of Mentors answered not applicable. “Other” means included meeting through a number of mechanisms.

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Associates N = 143; Mentors N = 99

Survey respondents were also asked how long meetings with the mentors or associates last. As Figure 11 shows, many of the associates and mentors indicated that their meetings last about an hour. This information will be important to share at Orientation sessions and in introductory materials so that new mentors and associates know what the typical time commitment is.

Figure 11: Length of meetings

Figure 11, chart representing length of meetings for associates and mentors

Figure 11 - Text equivalent

This is a vertical bar chart that illustrates how long mentoring meetings last for both Associates and Mentors.

The Y axis is measured in percentage and increases in increments of 10 from 0 to 90.

The X axis lists the following options for length of time: Less than an hour, About an hour, One and half hours, Two hours or more, Different each meeting. 26% of Associates and 26% of Mentors said they meet for less than an hour; 54% of Associates and 54% of Mentors said they meet for about an hour; 11% of Associates and 16% of Mentors said they meet for one and a half hours; 0% of Associates and 1% of Mentors said they meet for two hours or more; and 9% of Associates and 3% of Mentors answered that the length of time was different each meeting.

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Associates N = 143; Mentors N = 99

Respondents were asked if they found it easy to access their mentor or associate. The majority of associates (89%) and mentors (95%) stated that they found it easy to access their mentor or associate.

3.4.2 Meeting Expectations

Next, associates were asked whether they had discussed their expectations concerning the goals that they wanted to achieve through the mentoring relationship. This “discussion of expectations for meeting goals” is a specific activity undertaken during the Orientation sessions. Associates are encouraged to articulate their goals for the mentoring relationship and also their expectations in terms of meeting those goals through, for example, time commitment.

The majority (84%) of associates had discussed their expectations concerning their goals with their mentors. As can be seen in Figure 12, almost three quarters of associates were satisfied with the progress they had made towards achieving their goals through the mentoring relationship. As with the presentation of other scale results, the scale has been combined.

Figure 12: Associates' satisfaction with progress toward achieving goals

Figure 12, chart representing Associates’ satisfaction with progress toward achieving goals

Figure 12 - Text equivalent

This is a vertical bar chart that illustrates Associates’ satisfaction with their progress toward achieving their goals.

The Y axis is measured in percentage and increases in increments of 10 from 0 to 90.

The X axis lists the following options for levels of satisfaction: Satisfied, Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and Dissatisfied. 74% of Associates said they are satisfied with their progress toward achieving their goals; 23% of Associates said they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their progress toward achieving their goals; and 3% of Associates said they were dissatisfied with their progress toward achieving their goals.

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; N = 121

3.4.3 Benefits of Mentoring to Associates and Mentors – Current Relationships

The survey respondents were also asked to indicate the extent their mentoring relationship had affected a number of different areas. As shown in Table 6 below, the mentoring relationship affected many different areas among associates at least to some extent, especially in terms of helping the associate think in different ways about work-related issues and increasing understating of corporate culture and values. In Tables 6 and 7 below, the responses “to a great extent” and “to some extent” are combined into one category entitled “to a great/some extent”.

Table 6: Extent that mentoring relationship affected various areas - AssociatesFootnote 13
Areas To a great/some extent
n (%)
To a little extent
n (%)
To no extent at all
n (%)
Not applicable
n (%)
Led to new career opportunities 42 (30%) 25 (18%) 50 (35%) 25 (18%)
Broadened your network of contacts 63 (44%) 35 (25%) 33 (23%) 11 (8%)
Improved your job satisfaction 69 (49%) 30 (21%) 26 (18%) 17 (12%)
Increased your understanding of corporate culture and values 98 (69%) 19 (13%) 20 (14%) 6 (4%)
Helped to keep you working at JUS/PPSC 52 (37%) 24 (17%) 39 (28%) 27 (19%)
Helped you think in different ways about the work-related issues with which you are dealing 109 (76%) 16 (11%) 12 (8%) 6 (4%)
Provided you with a role model 77 (54%) 17 (12%) 22 (15%) 27 (19%)
Helped with your work-life balance 47 (33%) 31 (22%) 19 (13%) 10 (7%)
Enhanced your knowledge and skill set 87 (61%) 31 (22%) 20 (14%) 5 (4%)
Provided you with motivation to excel at your job 83 (58%) 31 (22%) 19 (13%) 10 (7%)
Prepared you for your next position 72 (51%) 26 (18%) 24 (17%) 20 (14%)

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Ns range from 142 to 143

One of the indicators of success for the NMP is that mentoring helps to improve job satisfaction. Almost half (49%) of associates who responded to the survey indicated that their mentoring relationship had improved their job satisfaction to a great or some extent. Another 21% indicated that it had improved their job satisfaction to a little extent. As noted in the Limitations section of this report, job satisfaction is difficult to measure as it is subjective and will mean different things to different people. It is possible that increasing your understanding of corporate culture and values and thinking in different ways about work-related issues might contribute to job satisfaction as well.

Many associates commented on how mentoring has helped them better understand corporate culture and values. One mentor spoke at length in her interview about the importance of imparting the Department's three values to associates. She suggested that mentors should be aware of these values and what they mean and should actively teach them to their associates.

One associate noted that the relationship is certainly not one way with the mentor providing all the learning. Indeed,

…you contribute more than you think. There is more of a sharing of expertise and advice.

Another associate felt that her mentoring relationship had been invaluable, especially in terms of helping to think in different ways about the work-related issues.

In one interview, this associate noted that his mentoring relationship had increased his understanding of corporate culture and values:

It builds on the formal communications of the Department…helps fill in the jigsaw puzzle…improves my insights and understandings and often answers the big WHY.

Mentors were also asked the extent to which the mentoring relationship affected various areas. As shown in Table 7 below, the majority of mentors who responded to these questions indicated that mentoring had been a valuable use of their time, that it had been a learning experience and helped them feel they had something to contribute to the organization. 

Table 7: Extent that mentoring relationship affected various areas - MentorsFootnote 14
Areas To a great/some extent
n (%)
To a little extent
n (%)
To no extent at all
n (%)
Not applicable
n (%)
Helped you feel valued and respected 77 (79%) 10 (10%) 3 (3%) 8 (8%)
Helped you feel you have something to contribute to the organization 85 (86%) 8 (8%) 1 (1%) 5 (5%)
Given you a better understanding of issues facing employees 74 (76%) 17 (17%) 4 (4%) 3 (3%)
Been a valuable use of your time 92 (93%) 3 (3%) 1 (1%) 3 (3%)
Been a learning experience 85 (86%) 8 (8%) 3 (3%) 3 (3%)
Helped improve your own job performance 53 (54%) 22 (22%) 17 (17%) 7 (7%)
Created a renewed sense of purpose in your professional life 52 (53%) 23 (23%) 17 (17%) 6 (6%)
Helped develop your leadership capacity 66 (67%) 15 (15%) 12 (12%) 6 (6%)

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Ns range from 98 to 99

Of note is that 93% of mentors who answered this question believed that mentoring has been a valuable use of their time to a great or some extent. Many mentors commented on the positive impacts of their relationships, such as helping them feel they have something to contribute to the organization:

Makes me feel like I have something valuable to contribute that helps someone else both personally and professionally. Raises my own level of self-esteem.

It makes me feel like I am making a positive impact on my organization.

I get the feeling I am making a difference …by imparting knowledge of institutional culture …by making the invisible, visible.

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had as a manager. Again, that goes back to my associate because she told me how much she benefitted from this.

Mentoring has also been a learning experience. For example, one mentor noted that relationships also provide mentors, who are often – but not necessarily – managers, “… a ‘ground level view' of the work life of employees.” Another senior manager commented that:

As I talk things out (with associates), I find I'm talking to myself as well (about culture and values in the organization). These discussions “encourage me to think about things.”

Another mentor added in his interview that:

Discussions with associates have influenced my analysis of situations and changed my approach.

As an example of this, the mentor noted that in a discussion with an associate, the latter responded to the mentor's direction on how to act in a particular situation with the comment, “now X, don't do my thinking for me”. The mentor now takes a more indirect approach in offering suggestions to associates. And finally,

It is a great opportunity to work with someone closely. I found I learned as much as the person I was mentoring - the old adage of "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" comes to mind. I think that hearing from someone else what they are going through really helps you to understand your own position all that much better and makes you a better person.

3.4.4 Costs

In the interviews, mentors and associates were asked if there were any costs to them due to participating in the National Mentoring Program. The mentors interviewed consistently said that no, they did not attribute any costs to being a mentor. One mentor noted that he does not view the relationship as a cost, but as an important way to support the Department even if it might mean taking more work home at the end of the day.

Three mentors spoke in the interviews about the emotional cost of hearing about abuses of authority or other negative experiences their associates were having. They also noted feeling frustrated when they felt that they were not helping their associates make progress. As one mentor – who has four associates - noted,

Not directly a cost to me, but hearing the challenges the others face that are endemic to the organization can be a source of frustration (i.e., an emotional cost).

This is an example of where some additional support from the NMP would greatly assist mentors who are contributing. Any of the activities discussed earlier - informal discussion groups or training events - would help mentors feel supported and give them additional ideas of how to address some of the challenges being faced by associates.

3.4.5 Satisfaction with the Mentoring Relationship – Associates and Mentors

Finally, respondents were asked to indicate their satisfaction with the mentoring relationship overall. As shown in Figure 13 below, the majority of associates and mentors were satisfied with their mentoring relationship overall. Interestingly, a larger percentage of mentors (88%) than associates (84%) indicated that they are very satisfied or satisfied with their mentoring relationship. This may be because associates come into the relationship with expectations and some of these, particularly around career goals, may not be achievable through the relationship on its own.

Figure 13: Satisfaction with the mentoring relationship – Associates and Mentors

Figure 13, chart representing Satisfaction with the mentoring relationship – Associates and Mentors

Figure 13 - Text equivalent

This is a vertical bar chart that illustrates Associates’ and Mentors’ satisfaction with their mentoring relationship.

The Y axis is measured in percentage and increases in increments of 10 from 0 to 90.

The X axis lists the following options for levels of satisfaction: Satisfied, Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and Dissatisfied. 84% of Associates and 88% of Mentors said they are satisfied with their mentoring relationship; 11% of Associates and 10% of Mentors said they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their mentoring relationship; and 5% of Associates and 1% of Mentors said they were dissatisfied with their mentoring relationship.

Source: National Mentoring Program Survey 2011; Associates N = 143; Mentors N = 99

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