August 4, 2015

Matching and Selecting Mentoring Partners

Matching and Selecting Mentoring Partners

Planned mentoring is becoming a learning tool of preference for increasing employee retention, improving engagement and transferring institutional knowledge. Good mentors (or advisors) are often a catalyst to help mentees (or learners) discover their strengths and weaknesses, formulate a career path, set goals, manage stress and balance work life. Mentors report they learn too by gaining a fresh perspective, developing their coaching skills and being a part of another person’s growth. Everyone wins from a successful mentoring partnership!


With so much riding on the partnership, matching and selecting mentors with mentees is often a challenging part of planned mentoring. I’ve found the process is both science and art. Since participants bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs, a great match for one person may not be stellar for another. So where do you begin?                     


Let’s start with the “science”.  Matching best practices begin with a solid profile for all mentors and mentees. Critical profile elements include development goals, specific interests, location, experiences, and matching preferences. The more you know about the candidates, the better chance your participants will have for a great fit and a happy, productive mentoring outcome.  Most sources agree that successful workplace mentors are not already connected as direct supervisors, or even located in same department.


The “art” of matching and selection is largely dependent the organization’s talent strategy, as well as its business objectives. First, eliminate any candidates who do not meet minimum criteria such as years of service, those with performance concerns, etc.  Next, think about how to best prioritize mentee-mentor matching criteria.  Your selection committee may choose to incorporate the following priorities: 

  • Degree to which the mentor’s strengths match the mentee’s development needs. 

  • Mentor’s network that might be leveraged to meet mentee’s development needs.
  • Mentee's areas of strength as a professional.
  • Mentee's preferences for the kind of person with whom they would like to have as a mentor.
  • Similar job assignments or duties.
  • Geographic proximity.
  • Common free time or shifts.
  • Travel flexibility. 

  • Mentee's job assignment or the future assignment for which they are being prepared.
  • Mentor preferences or requests for the type of person whom they would like to mentor.
  • Other factors which might influence matching with an appropriate mentor.


Regardless of how you prioritize the criteria, I recommend quality matches over quantity of pairs.  High quality matches help ensure everyone wins, the initiative gains long-term sustainability and your program realizes strong mentoring advocates.


If you have questions or would like more information on fueling mentoring success, contact Legacy Talent Development.