Mentorship programs can boost the careers and lives of both the mentor and mentee if the match is done right.
In fact, over 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs in their workplaces in an effort to retain talent and to enhance the lives of employees.
When it comes to attracting individuals to the mentoring program, employees should know that there are a number of benefits for the mentee as well as the mentor. As well, if a mentoring program is successful, it can lead to a variety of benefits for the company and other employees too.
However, because the essence of a mentoring program is a good match, if there is a problem with the mentor-mentee match the program may fail. Some experts have even said a bad match could lead to long-lasting psychological effects.
Importance of Mentor-mentee Match
The success of a workplace mentoring program hinges on a good, solid mentor-mentee match. If a company can get this right the program will bring about positive change in the workplace.
However, it can be a struggle to find the right talent to connect mentees with and vice versa. Depending on how your program operates, it can add time and stress to the administrator. If matches are still being done on paper, it may be time to consider an upgrade. Mentoring software like Together can help streamline the matching process. This frees up the workplace mentoring program manager to focus on developing the program further.
There are different models of matching. They can be mentee-led, where the mentee finds a mentor they would like to connect with or they can be matched by a workplace mentorship program manager. Some companies may also opt for something in-between. Yet, it is important in any mentoring program that the match criteria and method be clearly defined.
Don’t underestimate the time and complexity of the matching step in creating a successful workplace mentoring program. Because developing a good relationship between the mentor and mentee is the essence of the program, the match is a key ingredient.
When considering the matching model that is best for your organization, keep in mind the expectations of the mentee as well as the desires of company leadership.
Creating the right match
A workplace mentoring program’s success will be defined by whether or not good mentor-mentee matches can be made. This is why it is important to take some time over considering what mentor will fit with the mentee.
One consideration is if both the mentor and mentee have been properly trained. Because a mentorship requires leadership and communication skills, if the mentor or mentee have not been prepared for this reality the relationship could flop.
Another important element of creating a good mentor-mentee match is personality style. While they don’t need to be from the same background or have identical personalities, they do need to be able to understand each other. Ensuring there are a few similarities between a mentor-mentee will be a great way to kickstart a positive experience for each. However, some research suggests the best pairing may be between two individuals who don’t have much in common.
“Where learning is to occur, therefore, then dissimilarity may be an advantage. Earlier empirical evidence, which profiled 50 adult mentoring pairs, found that mentor–protégé pairs were no more alike or dissimilar than control pairs (Alleman & Newman, cited in Haines, 2003), suggesting that in traditional mentoring relationships similarity of personality is not a critical factor,” according to an article in the Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning journal.
Before the mentoring relationship develops, a workplace mentoring program manager should encourage both the mentor and mentee to write down their expectations. If they are both clear on what they expect from the mentorship as well as what they can offer it is more likely to be successful.
VP of human resources and corporate training at the Centris Federal Credit Union, Ralph Kellogg, noted there were three key ingredients for a successful mentorship:
- Boundaries are set
- Goals and objectives were developed
- Regular assessment of the relationship’s success
Importance of Goal Defining in the Mentoring Relationship
When it comes to developing realistic expectations of the mentor-mentee match, the goals of the mentee will play a key part. Usually, if a match is seen as a failure that is because one or more of the goals were not meet.
If a match does not work, the parties need to consider whether the problem lies in goal-setting. Were the goals realistic? Did the mentor and mentee define steps to achieve the goals? How did each party work towards accomplishing the goals?
Once these questions have answers, it will be easier for the program manager to make a better mentor-mentee match next time.
Creating the Questionnaire
Whether you use a mentoring software program or opt to make a match on your own, the questionnaire is your opportunity to find out more about the mentor and mentee. The answers that each provides will be an important factor in how to create the match.
While you may be tempted to develop a long list of comprehensive questions, it is better to keep it simple and direct. A few key questions can help you understand more about the individual and what they are looking for.
With Together, the client organization provides their matching requirements for the pairing process.
Questions you may want to ask a mentor/mentee in the questionnaire include:
- What are your strengths?
- Which area would you like to develop?
- What do you hope to gain from a mentorship program?
- Where would you like to be in 3-5 years?
- What are some challenges you would like to overcome?
- Describe the ideal mentor/mentee for you.
There is a lot riding on getting a mentor-mentee match made right.
Mentoring programs can help the company achieve its goals including lower turnover rate, better-trained employees and succession plans. In a hypercompetitive world, keeping employees engaged with the company longer, giving them comprehensive training about the company and ensuring that those who are retiring are replaced with quality talent can go a long way in helping an organization continue down the road of success.
Mentoring software programs like Together offers mentor program managers a streamlined process of creating the best mentor-mentee match.