Do high performers always obtain supervisory career mentoring? The role of perspective-taking

Xiaoyu Wang, Xiaotong Zheng, Yanjun Guan, Shuming Zhao

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Drawing on social exchange theory, this study examines when and why high performers may fail to obtain supervisory career mentoring (SCM). Although high performance by protégés often makes SCM more efficient and successful, we argue that supervising mentors may be reluctant to offer SCM due to the victimization of high performers that has been shown by recent findings in the supervision literature. We further propose that high performers should be high in perspective-taking, a core relational competence and a key individual factor that moderates the relationship between protégé performance and SCM. Findings from a multi-source multi-time survey (Study 1) and an online experiment (Study 2) consistently show that when high performers are low in perspective-taking, they are less likely to receive SCM. Moreover, the findings from Study 2 also show that low perspective-taking by high performers significantly reduces supervisors’ expected benefits from mentoring them, which in turn leads to the supervisors having low willingness to mentor. Our research therefore highlights the importance of taking into account the interaction between task and relational competence in understanding how protégé characteristics may influence SCM in organizational settings. The paper concludes with theoretical and practical implications. Practitioner points: At workplace, employees tend to focus on improving their performance and task competence and believe that high performance can help them receive more resources to develop their career. However, if they cannot imagine oneself in another’s shoes, high performance can lead to less positive results. High performers should take others’ perspective to understand what others feel and think to reduce potential threats seen by the supervisor and their colleagues. Therefore, task and relational competence are equally important. Organizations can help their employees develop this perspective-taking, including creating more opportunities (e.g., informal social events or formal training) for employees and their supervisors to understand each other’s work roles, perspectives and values, which can help employees to understand their supervisors’ views and stand in their supervisors’ shoes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-357
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cost-benefit analysis
  • mentoring
  • perspective taking
  • social exchange
  • subordinate performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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