Exploring the experience of the mentee-mentor psychological contract in the employment relationship: a case study
Over the last few decades, considerable attention has been given to the development and management of the psychological contract amongst proactive organisations that want to stay competitive (Abu-Doleh & Hammou, 2015; Restubog, Bordia, Tang, & Krebs, 2010; Rousseau, 2011; Rousseau, 2005; Suazo, Martinez & Sandoval, 2009; Tomprou, & Nikolaou, 2011). The psychological contract can be defined as a perceptual exchange agreement between two parties regarding mutually beneficial obligations that each party has towards the other in the employment relationship (Bal & Rousseau, 2016; Rankin, Roberts, & Schöer, 2014; Sparrow & Cooper, 2003). The debate of professionals garnering the credibility and legal nature of the psychological contract (Fisk, 2010; Guest & Conway, 2004) eventually found agreement that the experience of the psychological contract is intended to be mutually beneficial for both the employer and employee (Rankin, Roberts, & Schöer, 2014; Rousseau, 2003; Weinberg, 2009) thereby generating a fair and trusting environment for an individual to grow if managed correctly (Guest & Conway, 2004; Conway & Briner, 2005). Traditionally, psychological contract research focussed on a give and take agreement between two parties regarding mutually beneficial obligations that each party has towards the other in the employment relationship (Rankin, Roberts, & Schöer, 2014; Rousseau, 1989; Sparrow & Cooper, 2003). The psychological contract is influenced by the employees' perception of organisations that deliver or fail to deliver promised inducements and their perception of what they owe the company in return (De Ruiter, Schalk, Schaveling, & Van Gelder, 2017; Rousseau, 2011), thereby reinforcing the importance of a mutually beneficial obligatory relationship between the employer and the employee. The current global environment may affect the future employment relationship by changing and adapting employment as employees' perceptions and expectations regarding the employment relationship has changed (Abu-Doleh & Hammou, 2015; Schalk & Freese, 2000). Employees' perceptions and expectations that matures into a psychological contract occurring between the employer and employee (Rousseau, 2003; Weinberg, 2009) as a psychological contract's foundation is based upon pillars of trust, fairness, and service delivery (Rousseau, Hornung, & Kim, 2009) which, in turn, positively affects employee performance (Guest, 2004; Guest & Conway, 2004). Leading one to conclude that global competitive changes are steering more and more modern organisations, which are committed to the well-being and development of their employees, to provide a balance between organisational demands and employee demands via the experience of the psychological contract as the way a psychological contract is perceived by the employee could ultimately affect business success. New employees sign contracts and policies to join the organisation and in doing so expectations are developed of each other (Alcover, Martinez-I�igo, & Chambel, 2012; Bellou, 2009; Alcover, et al., 2016). The new employee also goes through a process of forming a verbal and/or tacit agreement that form part of a psychological contract (Rousseau, 2011; Rousseau, 2005) that is influenced, amongst other things, by the employee's involvement and participation in the formation of a psychological contract (Linde & Gresse, 2014).The aforementioned mutually beneficial relationship may refer to the mentee relationship that traditionally developed between a mentor and a mentee of unequal status that had a developmental focus (Bozionelos et al., 2016). It is this small number of mentees that is of interest due to the possibility that this organisational mentee group will continue to grow in the future in order to stay ahead of growing economic pressure such as the rapidly increasing unemployment figures (National Planning Commission, n.d.; Statistics South Africa, 2017) and declining job opportunities in South Africa (Peyper, 2017; Statistics South Africa, 2017).