Join Ellen Ensher as she reviews three strategies for efficient matching, and review typical criteria and best practice examples for matching.
- The biggest myth about matching in mentoring programs is the soulmate expectation. This is the idea that there's a perfect mentor for each protege. You just need to help mentors and proteges set reasonable expectations for each other. If they both learn something new, then I think the match is successful. I want you to remember three words to help you with the matching process. Choice, connection, and learning. Let's dig into these a little bit further.
Choice. Most of us in the US probably have negative connotations with the phrase blind date. Formal mentoring programs that match people without giving participants any choice sometimes feel like a blind date. Whenever possible, give at least one of the participants, typically the proteges, choice in deciding who they are paired with. There are several different ways to do this. You can be very high tech and create an algorithm that generates several possible matches like they do at MentorNet.
To help with this, you may want to check out mentoring matching software. You could host a speed mentoring event, and allow potential folks to meet one another. Or, just keep it really simple and give proteges two choices, and let them indicate a preference. Connection. Should you match people based on similarities or on their differences? The answer is both. It helps if mentors and proteges can form a connection based on similarities.
Match people who have something in common they can connect on, such as goals, values, or geography. If this is not possible, then provide training so they can quickly figure out important ways they are similar to one another. Several years ago I worked with an order of Catholic nuns who had a mentoring program that paired new nuns with more experienced nuns. Many of the new nuns were from developing nations like Bangladesh, or Africa, whereas many of the older nuns were from the United States.
So, there were some real differences generation wise, and culturally. So we gave everyone the Myers-Briggs personality test, and used similarities in personality as one way to match mentors and proteges. Learning. Mentoring is about learning from each other's similarities and differences. Research shows that diverse teams and partnerships are best for creativity and problem solving. This holds true for mentoring partnerships as well.
Thinking back to the Catholic nuns, when we evaluated the mentoring program at the end, many of the mentors and proteges spoke about having someone to help interpret the cultural differences in a safe way helped them so much. When matching mentors and proteges, do what makes sense for your organization and the mentors and proteges themselves. There's no one right way. Give participants an opportunity for choice, connection, and learning.
- The benefits of formal mentoring programs
- The types and purpose of mentoring programs
- Designing a framework and a needs assessment
- Creating a mentoring culture
- Ensuring organizational support
- Choosing participants
- Training essentials for mentors
- Concluding and celebrating your program
- Evaluating your program
- Making your mentoring program last