Matching mentors and mentees

Mentors and mentees are best matched when they choose each other.

Professor David Clutterbuck, a renowned authority on mentoring, had the
following to say on the subject of matching mentors to mentees:

The key issue to success in a mentoring paring is to ensure that the participants have had some role in the pairing process, even if this is indirect, by indicating preferences or expectations. The more they participate in the pairing process, the more committed mentors and mentees will feel to the mentoring relationship. 

We suggest taking the following steps when matching mentors and mentees:

First, create a list of the available mentors and include at least the following information about them:

  • Name and contact details
  • Title and position held in the organisation
  • Information about the mentor’s work experience
  • Areas of qualification/learning/expertise
  • Areas of speciality knowledge
  • Geographic accessibility
  • Preferred meeting venue
  • Communication style the mentor leans more towards: (Analytical/ amiable/bottom line-results driven / relationships, etc.?)
  • Projects or roles the mentor may have participated in
  • Hobbies and outside interests
  • Then, make the list of mentors available to mentees and ask them to select their first, second and third choice of mentor.

It is essential that mentors are not line managers to their mentees.

Given the list, the mentee can then choose the names of two or three mentors they would like to work with. Mentees may be lucky and get their first choice of mentor. However, some mentors may simply be oversubscribed and the mentee’s second or third choice will still be valuable for buy-in. Using the mentee’s choices, the mentor champion may apply his or her knowledge and experience to create the final mentor-mentee list.

Since choice is a key factor in ensuring a good match, and since the relationship is targeted for the longer term, the organisation may offer parties a “no-fault-reset-option” which they can exercise before or immediately after the first facilitated meeting. The “no-fault-reset-option” gives parties the choice to request a different pairing without explanation.

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