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Fostering employee engagement through supervisory mentoring




Nowacki, Emily C., author
Byrne, Zinta S., advisor
Kraiger, Kurt, committee member
Vacha-Haase, Tammi, committee member
James, Susan, committee member

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Employee engagement is an increasingly salient topic in organizations given the reported financial, attitudinal, and behavioral gains of having an engaged workforce, and as such, considered a means for achieving effective performance. Supervisors are typically charged with motivating their employees to accomplish work effectively, primarily because of their proximity and often close relationship they have with their subordinates. Consequently, organizations have begun encouraging and expecting supervisors to foster employee engagement. However, little is known about how employees become engaged from observing, working with, and learning from their supervisors. This study contributes to the development of a new theory of how employees, as protégés, become engaged through mentoring received from their supervisors. Using self-report data from 173 employees, I explored the relationships between protégé engagement and perceived mentoring functions (role modeling, career-development, and psychosocial support) in the context of a supervisor-subordinate relationship. Results from this study highlight the theoretical value of mentoring functions, which are understudied aspects in the supervisor-subordinate relationship and are critical for leadership and future leader-development efforts. Thus, this study contributes not only to the theoretical advancement of work engagement, but also to the practical application of efforts to foster employee engagement and to an empirical understanding of how engagement is fostered through satisfaction of intrinsic needs and social learning mechanisms.


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