Author(s), Title and Publication

Tepper, B. J. (1995). Upward maintenance tactics in supervisory mentoring and nonmentoring relationships. Academy of Management Journal, 38(4), 1191-1205.


This study examined the communication tactics that junior colleagues use to maintain stable mentoring relationships with their senior colleagues. Data were collected from a survey of 259 employees, with their upward communication tactics, and their perceived benefits obtained from the supervisory mentoring being measured. Results indicated that compared to the employees who are not mentored by their immediate supervisors, the employees who are mentored by their supervisors receive more career-related and psychosocial mentoring, use personal (intimate interaction focusing on personal content rather than task-related content), direct (openly questions), and extracontractual tactics (performance beyond expectations) more frequently, and contractual tactics (general communication conventions, meet formal role requirements) less frequently. Findings also showed that the employees who receive informal mentoring reported using contractual and regulative tactics (e.g., talk with supervisor when he or she is in the right mood, control self-emotion, etc.) less frequently and direct and extracontractual tactics more frequently than those receiving formal mentoring. In communication with the supervisors, employees receiving mentoring from sources other than their supervisors use personal tactics more often than those not receiving mentoring from any source.

Implications for Practice

Employees receiving formal mentoring may feel less comfortable to express their emotions in communication with their supervisor. Therefore, organizations that provide employees with formal mentoring programs may also want to consider offering communication training programs for those employees.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (read online for free, free registration needed)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
Follow on Twitter

Leave a Reply