Create Successful Mentoring Relationships

Organizations around the world have found that implementing a mentoring program can lead to higher levels of employee engagement, knowledge sharing, and employee retention. With these types of benefits, there is no surprise that 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees.

To capitalize on the benefits of a mentoring program, there are important factors to take into consideration. These factors will determine the level of your program’s success. The most important of those factors is the success of your program’s mentoring relationships. 

The Impact that Mentoring Relationships Have on Your Mentoring Program

Mentoring focuses on establishing a mutually beneficial partnership to achieve specific goals. These partnerships are called mentoring relationships and are made up of a mentor and mentee. These relationships are the backbone of any mentoring program as this is where the mentoring takes place.

With successful mentoring relationships, your organization can:

  • Improve employee engagement and performance
  • Reinforce the view that you are committed to employee development
  • Create a culture that fosters fresh ideas and innovations
  • Demonstrate to stakeholders that you have an active and successful mentoring program in place

The success of your mentoring program is heavily reliant on the overall success of the mentoring relationships. To be successful, these relationships must be managed and cultivated. This process begins with the matching of your mentors and mentees.

Matching Your Mentors and Mentees for Relationship Success

Matching your mentors and mentees is one of the most critical steps in implementing your mentoring program. When participants are not effectively matched, you will not see the level of success needed to yield a return. While there is no guarantee that a match will be successful, taking a proactive approach to matching increases the likelihood of success.

Best Practices for Mentor Matching

Without a planned matching process, you will see an increase in the number of unsuccessful mentoring relationships. There are several best practices that impact the effectiveness of your matching process.

1. Recruit Qualified Mentors and Mentees.

Only recruit the mentors and mentees that are qualified to participate in your mentoring program. For example, if you are implementing a mentoring program to achieve leadership development, a qualified mentor would be a senior leader in your organization.

It is especially important that you ensure your mentors are properly qualified. You want mentors that are capable of giving insight into your organization or a specific job role. However, your qualifications should go beyond that. Your mentors should have the types of skills and abilities that match with the type of program you are creating and those that mentees in that program need.

2. Create Clear Matching Criteria. 

Your matching criteria will help you determine the best possible match for your mentors and mentees.

Standard matching criteria include:

  • Career level
  • Business function
  • Job role
  • Job related skills
  • Interpersonal skills 

When creating these criteria, take your business objectives into consideration. For example, if your business objective is to create a diverse leadership team, you should include ethnicity or gender in your matching criteria.

3. Determine What Type of Matching Will Take Place. 

There are 3 common types of mentor matching. It is important that you choose the one that works best for your mentoring program.

  • Self-Matching takes place when the program participants choose their own match. This type of matching  works well for more inclusive, simplified mentoring programs.

    Self-matching allows the mentee to choose the exact mentor that will best fit his / her development. This tends to  lead to a more successful and fruitful relationship. However, having no input from the admin means that your  business objectives are not top of mind when the match is made.  

  • Admin-Matching takes place when program administrators have complete control of the mentors and mentees  that are matched. This type of matching is beneficial when a mentoring program has very specific objectives, as  seen in a program focusing on diversity and inclusion.

    Admin-matching ensures that your business objectives are being considered with each match. However, the  process can be time consuming. There is also no guarantee that this matching style will place participants in a  relationship that works for their personal mentoring needs.

  • Hybrid-Match is a combination of self-matching and admin-matching. This type of matching will give you the  best of both worlds. Your admins can ensure business objectives are taken into consideration while still allowing  your mentees to choose the most qualified mentor.

  • Implement Mentoring Software to Facilitate Matching. Mentoring software gives you the ability to streamline  your matching process. With software, algorithms are used to analyze the matching criteria and suggest the best  possible match. Mentoring software also allows you to monitor the progress of each mentoring relationship through the tracking tool. The data found in the tracking tool can be used to create reports to analyze the success of your mentoring program. These reports help you to show stakeholders the value of each successful match.

4. Monitor Mentoring Relationships After Matching. 

Mentoring relationships typically last 8 to 12 months. Historically, we have found that relationships lasting less than 6 months are not long enough for true development to take place. However, a relationship that lasts longer than 12 months tends to become stagnant.  

It's important that you monitor the entire mentoring relationship, not just the initial matching process. Matched mentors and mentees will need your help to maintain a successful relationship.

When a Mentoring Relationship is Unsuccessful

It’s a reality that not every mentor match will result in a successful relationship. Reasons that a mentoring relationship isn’t working vary. Some of the common reasons are:

  • The mentee was simply matched with the wrong mentor. No matter how many plans you have in place, bad matches can happen.

  • The mentee and mentor lack sufficient training to conduct their roles. Providing training to your participants before they start the mentoring relationship is a great way to prevent this.

  • No defined qualification criteria. Mentors and mentees should enter the relationship knowing the criteria that they were matched on.

  • One of the participants has left the organization. As mentoring is typically an internal program, it is uncommon for a relationship to continue when one of the participants leaves.

  • Commitments are no longer being upheld. At times, a mentor or mentee is no longer willing to commit to the time it takes to participate in the relationship.

  • Unrealistic expectations. Too many times we have seen relationships fail because mentors and mentees have unrealistic expectations about the outcome. Be upfront with your employees about the goals of your mentoring program. 
It is your responsibility to help the mentor or mentee end the unsuccessful mentoring relationship and be matched with someone new. Before a new match is made, help them determine why the first relationship did not work. This will allow everyone to adjust the criteria and expectations being considered for the new match.


At Insala, our more than 20 years of experience has enabled us to design and develop mentoring software that meets the direct needs of our clients. Your organization’s unique objectives will be implemented in a way that your goals can be achieved. Insala’s mentoring software, coupled with 20 years of experience in delivering mentoring advice to, helps you to design and implement a successful mentoring program. Request a Demo to learn how mentoring software can benefit your organization.

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