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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Do Extroverts Get More Out of Mentoring?

Do Extroverts Get More Out of Mentoring?
Credit: Stoatphoto/Shutterstock

If your company values mentorship and coaching, look for candidates who are outgoing and proactive when you hire, new research suggests.

A study recently published in the Journal of Career Development revealed that employees who are extroverted are the most likely to develop positive mentoring relationships, which in turn enhances their chances for career success.

Daniel Turban, one of the study's authors and a professor at the University of Missouri, said that the study affirms past research that shows mentoring plays a critical role in professional success.

"Those who are extroverted and have a proactive personality are naturally more likely to develop mentor relationships, which can help new employees understand their company's corporate culture and advance within a company," Turban said in a statement.

For the study, researchers examined a sample of 333 employees, who had an average age of 30, worked in a diverse set of occupations and had been with their companies for about five years. The study's authors judged career success on income, promotions and job satisfaction, while personality results were based on surveys. [Are you an extrovert? What your influence at work depends on]

The researchers discovered that extroversion and a proactive personality were related to career success through mentoring and organizational knowledge.

"Our results were consistent with our theorizing that individuals high in proactive personality and extroversion would be more likely to seek mentoring and also would be perceived as more attractive potential proteges," the study's authors wrote.

The study's results highlight the importance of employees being proactive in learning more about their jobs from trusted confidants, as well as their company as a whole, according to the researchers.

"Although individuals high in extroversion and proactivity may be more likely to seek and receive such mentoring, employees lower in these traits may benefit from coaching and counseling focused on developing skills to help them establish mentoring and developmental relationships," the study's authors wrote. "Second, our results suggest that employees proactively attempt to learn the norms, values, and goals of the organization."

While employees who are naturally extroverted may be more apt to developing mentor relationships, introverted employees shouldn't think their chances for success are doomed because of their personality, according to Turban.

"Even for those of us who aren't extroverts, there is nothing saying you can't 'fake it until you make it'," he said.

In addition to developing mentoring relationships and learning about the company's values and goals, Turban advises those looking to climb the corporate ladder to

take responsibility for learning and development at work. He said you shouldn't wait to be invited to a committee or asked to engage in professional development. Instead, seek out these opportunities on your own and volunteer for training or networking wherever possible.

Turban said employers can also help their employees out by cultivating a climate that encourages informal developmental relationships and continuous learning.

"In particular, organizations should attempt to develop a climate of psychological safety, which allows employees to take risks and ask questions without fear of recrimination, resulting in increased individual learning," the study's authors wrote.

The study was co-authored by Timothy Moake, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri; Sharon Yu-Hsien Wu of the U.S.-China Education and Culture Center; and Yu Ha Cheung, a senior lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.