Mentoring programs

Should mentees choose their mentor?

Should mentees choose their mentors? Explore the benefits of involving mentees in the mentor selection process and key factors for successful matches.

Raja Khan

Published on 

May 19, 2023

Updated on 

Time to Read

mins read time

Workplace mentoring programs play a crucial role in smoothly onboarding new employees and fostering the long-term development of existing team members.

According to a study by the Corporate Leadership Council, engaged employees perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization.

Another study found that employees involved in mentoring programs have a 50% higher retention rate than those not involved in mentoring, and 93% of mentees believe their mentoring relationship was useful.

However, the success of a mentoring program heavily relies on the perfect matching of mentors and mentees.

In this article, we will explore the question of whether mentees should have a say in choosing their mentors and shed light on the factors that contribute to effective mentor-mentee relationships.

Who can (and should) be a mentor in your program?

Within the organization, great mentors are not limited to just leaders.

For a mentoring program to succeed, it is crucial to recognize that both parties' relevant skill sets and experience levels are essential

The ideal mentor should have the necessary skills, knowledge, and expertise in the areas the mentee wants to develop.

Expanding the pool of potential mentors beyond just leaders allows organizations to tap into a wider range of expertise, including technical know-how, industry-specific knowledge, and leadership skills.

This can result in creating more meaningful and valuable matches for mentorship programs.

How to effectively select mentees for your program

While mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship, it is crucial to keep the focus on the mentees since the program primarily exists to support their growth and development.

When selecting mentees, organizations should consider factors such as:

  • demonstrated motivation, 
  • need for development, and 
  • alignment with program objectives.

Each organization may have additional specific criteria depending on its unique program design. By carefully selecting mentees, organizations can ensure that the mentoring relationship aligns with their overall goals and objectives.

Types of ways to match mentors and mentees:

Within a mentoring program, there are different ways to match your mentors and mentees. Within Together’s mentoring platform, for example, we give you these three options:

Admin-led matching 

Admin-led matching involves the program manager/admin manually assigning mentor-mentee matches or utilizing Together’s matching algorithm.

This method enables the program manager to consider multiple factors, such as skills, experience, aptitude, and personality traits when making the matches.

It provides a structured and controlled approach to mentorship, ensuring compatibility.

Self-matching

Mentees actively choose and find their own mentors through self-matching.

Together can use sophisticated algorithms to recommend potential mentors to mentees based on their profiles, skills, and objectives.

Doing so allows a more personalized and flexible matching process, giving mentees a sense of ownership and control over their development journey.

One drawback of allowing mentees to choose their match is the lack of involvement for admins.

Mentor approval

In mentor approval, mentors have the final say on accepting or rejecting requests from mentees.

It ensures mentors' full commitment and willingness to invest time and energy into mentoring relationships.

Therefore, mentors should take the time to evaluate each request to provide mentees with the best possible mentoring experience.

Should mentees be involved in the mentor selection process?

The question of whether mentees should be involved in the mentor selection process is a common one. Some feel that mentees should have a say in this, while others argue that such a choice should be left to the mentors.

Although, a mentoring relationship is a two-way street and can benefit both mentees and mentors. 

However, it is recommended to keep the focus on the mentees because this is who the program is really intended to benefit.

Also, while opinions may differ, there are two undeniable truths that shed light on this matter.

  • Firstly, during the initial application phase, mentees often value the opportunity to suggest their own mentors.
  • Secondly, the extent of mentee involvement in the matching process depends on factors such as the mentoring approach, program design, and available resources.

Let's explore these considerations further.

Other factors to consider when matching mentors with mentees:

Matching mentors with mentees involves considering several factors to ensure the effectiveness and compatibility of the mentoring relationship.

Let's delve into some of these key factors: 

Seniority vs. experience

Mentees may benefit from mentors who possess significant experience and expertise in their respective fields.

However, balance is key between seniority and experience. Senior mentors can provide valuable insights into leadership and career advancement, while mentors with relevant experience can offer practical guidance on specific skills or industry nuances.

Hierarchy and rank

In some cases, mentees may benefit from being paired with mentors from different levels of the hierarchy, allowing them to gain fresh perspectives and insights.

On the other hand, research states that relationships between mentees and mentors can be challenging in some cultures due to differences in "rank."

Such rank differences can create a power imbalance, with the mentor being overly dominant or the mentee becoming excessively passive.

This can make it difficult to establish a meaningful and productive relationship.

Location

The geographical proximity between mentors and mentees is crucial, particularly when face-to-face interactions are valuable.

Having mentors who are accessible can enhance the frequency and quality of in-person meetings, fostering a stronger and more meaningful mentoring relationship.

Therefore, if your program will involve in-person meetings, always think about the travel time, time difference, and knowledge of regional topics and cultures.

Gender

Gender can also play a significant role in mentor-mentee matching.

Research suggests that it is often beneficial for mentees to have mentors who share their gender, as they can better comprehend and relate to the unique challenges and experiences faced by a person of the same gender.

However, it is crucial not to limit matching solely based on gender, as a diversity of perspectives can also contribute to the richness of the mentoring experience.

Different genders bring different perspectives to the table, and having a variety of perspectives leads to more creative and innovative solutions. This leads to creating a more diverse and inclusive space, which can lead to better decision-making.

Language

For international mentoring programs, the language proficiency of both mentors and mentees should be considered when making mentor-mentee matches. Effective communication is essential for building trust and facilitating a productive mentoring relationship.

Ensuring that both parties can communicate fluently and comfortably in a shared language will enhance the effectiveness and overall satisfaction of the mentoring experience.


The best way to automate the matching process for mentors and mentees

Gone are the days of manually matching mentors with mentees. With the advancements in technology, your organization can now have access to our powerful mentor-mentee matching software that can automate the whole process of finding the best match for you.

Together is the best mentor-mentee matching software. It uses advanced algorithms to find out the best mentoring matches — hence, reducing manual efforts and increasing the number of successful mentoring relationships.

Use Together Platform to seamlessly connect members via mentorship — by ensuring that members are matched with relevant mentors determined by the skills and experiences they want to advance in their careers.

About the Author

close button

Want incredible results from your mentorship program? Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.