Can Mentoring Improve Performance?

To what extent can mentoring and coaching really improve employee performance?

Supervision is often perceived as a fairly negative approach because it is about evaluation and what an employee is NOT doing. It is necessary, but often not the most effective way of promoting employee development and performance improvement. There is significant research* suggesting that when a supervisor states an expectation for a change in behavior:

  • As many as 18% of employees do the opposite behavior, and…
  • As many as 57% of employees will do nothing different at all!

These statistics indicate that in YOUR organization, there could be as little as 25% impact as a result of supervision. Not a very effective result. Certainly, these data may be better in some types of organizations and under different, more progressive styles of management and leadership.

Contrast the previous data with a study done by the ASTD** that found:

  • Training alone increased manager productivity by 24%.
  • When combined with coaching and mentoring support strategies, the study found that productivity was increased by 88%!

That is a significant triple difference.

Even more dramatic Proof of the impact of coaching and mentoring was found in a third series of research studies. (To see details on this– “the Bridge”)

A combination of coaching and mentoring as a follow up support system to training appears to be the most powerful strategy for employee performance improvement. That makes good sense because training provides the knowledge and initial skills development, and mentoring and coaching provide the on-going support and structures for development of skill mastery and implementation of better practices in the employee’s daily work. That’s why neither training nor mentoring ALONE is enough to ensure the protégé’s performance is what is needed.


  • * Carl Glickman, University of Georgia
  • ** American Society for Training and Development
  • *** Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers