Professional development has been identified as an important preferred outcome of mentorship program participation however little evidence is available to explain what motivates individuals to participate in formal mentoring relationships. The aim of this study was twofold 1) to explore diabetes educators’ motivation to act as mentors or mentees and 2) to identify what organisations can do to increase this motivation. This phenomenological study used a mixed mode research design based on hermeneutic underpinnings which included the thematic analysis of survey responses and semi structured interviews. The study participants were mentors or mentees who participated in the Australian Diabetes Educators Association formal mentoring program during the period 2008 until 2012.
Results were in line with suggestions in the literature that providing mentoring has positive consequences for the career of the mentee and the mentor. The data findings indicated that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can lead to cognitive behaviour change and engagement with deep level learning. The study demonstrated that mentees were motivated by the achievement of credentialling, the legitimising of learning and the attainment of “the bit of paper”. Mentors were motivated by the desire to belong and to contribute to the professional development of the Australian Diabetes Educators’ Association or simply because they want to be better at “doing their job”.
The findings from this study demonstrate that motivation to participate in mentoring programs is linked to outcomes and performance. Recommendations for future formal mentoring programs must consider what inducements will motivate mentees and mentors to participate. Organisations must also consider the level of support and commitment they are willing to provide to mentorship program participants to ensure that they can achieve preordained performance levels.