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Building trust

The influence of mentoring behaviors on perceptions of health care managers’ trustworthiness

Fleig-Palmer, Michelle M.; Rathert, Cheryl; Porter, Tracy H.

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000130

Background: In health care organizations, trust is critical for effective workplace relationships that ensure patient-centered outcomes. Although research has focused on trust in the relationship between patients and clinicians, less is known about what influences workers to trust their managers. An understanding is needed of the specific behaviors that influence health care workers’ evaluations of their managers’ trustworthiness. Mentoring research focuses on the developmental assistance that a more experienced worker provides to a less experienced worker. Building upon Kram’s (1988) seminal research on mentoring functions, we argue that health care managers can build trust by providing informational (career-related) and interpersonal (psychosocial) support.

Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of health care managers’ informational and interpersonal mentoring behaviors on workers’ perceptions of their managers’ trustworthiness and the mediating role of trustworthiness on trust in the managers.

Methodology/Approach: Surveys were completed during work hours by 315 health care workers at an acute care hospital and associated clinics in the Midwest.

Findings: Results showed that managers’ mentoring behaviors influenced worker perceptions of their managers’ trustworthiness, in terms of ability, integrity, and benevolence. Ability partially mediated the relationship between informational mentoring and trust in managers, whereas integrity and benevolence partially mediated the relationship between interpersonal mentoring and trust in managers.

Practice Implications: Health care managers can actively build trust through mentoring behaviors that inspire positive assessments of managers’ ability, integrity, and benevolence.

Michelle M. Fleig-Palmer, PhD, is Associate Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney. E-mail:

Cheryl Rathert, PhD, is Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Tracy H. Porter, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Cleveland State University, Ohio.

No conflicts of interest are declared for any of the authors. Each of the coauthors met the criteria for inclusion by having made significant contributions to this study. Each author has read and approved the final manuscript and has met the requirements for authorship. The coauthors believe that the manuscript represents the honest work of each individual.

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