Parts of this blog post have been previously published in our monthly newsletter titled, Business Mentoring: How We Match Mentors and Mentees.
We get lots of questions about matching pairs in mentoring programs. What's the process like? How long does it take? Is there a secret sauce?
We have been successfully matching pairs in mentoring programs for over 25 years achieving, on average, a 90% success rate. Yes, you read that right..... a 90% success rate!! This history of success led to our developing our precision matching component, Precision Matching. Our tool asks critical questions in five key sections and uses our proprietary algorithm to calculate what would make a good match.
We can't give you all the details about our algorithm (it is proprietary, after all!), but we can share the rationale behind it, the difference between manual and system matching, the matching method we recommend most clients use, and the biggest mistakes that we see people make when it comes to making matches.
The Magic Behind Our Matching Algorithm
Our algorithm draws its information from an online matching form that all potential mentors and mentees fill out. We developed and fine-tuned this form over many years. It currently includes the following sections:
- Focus Areas/Competencies: Our mentoring system comes with 25 default competencies, such as leadership, communication, technical skills, and so forth. Our clients can add and revise these competencies as they see fit. Competencies are based upon job knowledge and skills. The goal is to pair people who want to mentor—or be mentored in—certain competencies. This then allows the mentoring pair to have a focus as they begin their work together.
- Forced Choice Questions: These questions "force" people to make a choice, often between two desirable things. For example, a person might need to answer "yes" or "no" to the following statement: I'd rather my mentor be more businesslike than social.
- Personality Test: Here, people rate themselves on a personality continuum.
- Ranking of Key Roles: In this section, mentees must decide what type of mentor they want based on how they order the following roles: teacher, sponsor, cheerleader, counselor, and friend (meaning if they put "cheerleader" first and "counselor" last, it's more important that the mentor is a cheerleader than a friend). Mentors must decide the type of mentor they want to be and do the same thing, ranking the roles in order of most important to least.
- Essay Section: This section is the only section that doesn't directly affect the algorithm. Program managers can use the essays as an additional resource as they review and finalize matches.
The Matching Process
We offer two main ways to match mentees and mentors: manual matching and system matching. For both, we provide the online matching form that all mentees and mentors fill out.
Characteristics of Manual Matching
- It's subjective and relies quite a bit on the human touch.
- Typically, the program manager (PM) will have a committee. The PM and committee members will hash out the matches based on info in the matching forms and through discussion/debate.
- This is a time consuming process. It could take 3-5 hours to match 20 pairs. If you had 150 pairs, this could take two full days.
Characteristics of System Matching
- It's objective. The program manager can justify each match since it's based on the algorithm, which weighs criteria from four of the five sections on the matching form.
- The system does the heavy lifting by suggesting appropriate matches. There's no need to "hash out" the matches, so this method saves A LOT of time.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: There are two options within system matching: Auto Matching and 3-Step Matching
Also read: 8 Reasons Why Mentor Matching Software Rocks
The 411 on Auto Matching
This is the quickest and easiest method, but it's not necessarily as effective as 3-step matching (or even manual).
How it works?
The system makes the matches based on the algorithm. The program manager likely accepts 90 percent of the matches the system recommends without reviewing further. The PM might make some edits to the other 10 percent.
The 411 on 3-Step Matching
We recommend this method for most clients because it combines the best of auto matching (the algorithm's speed and objectivity) and manual matching (the human touch).
How it works?
- The program manager (PM) chooses a mentee and has the system suggest mentors. Based on this list, the PM chooses 1-3 "tentative" mentors to consider for this individual mentee. The PM does this for all mentees in the program.
- The PM then compares the mentoring forms for each mentee against the 1-3 mentors she tentatively selected for the mentee. The beauty of our system is that you can look at the forms side by side while online. The PM makes almost-final choices for each mentee. (Note: Here's where reviewing the essay questions can be helpful.)
- The PM makes one final review. Now, the PM can look at the complete, just-about-final list of mentor/mentee matches and make sure she is happy with the final selections. If yes, she can finalize the matches. Each mentor and mentee will receive an email announcing the match, and the program will officially kick off.
Successful matches is one of THE key components to a successful mentoring program.
Stay tuned for our next post, Mistakes Companies Make When it Comes to Matching Mentors and Mentees.