Mentor Matching Engine: A Must-Have for Successful Programs

Sam Cook


Car engine to represent mentor matching engine.

The mentor-mentee relationship is a critical factor in the success of a mentoring relationship. Most of the work that goes into developing a successful mentoring program is ensuring the two are a good match. The emergence of the mentor matching engine is an innovative solution that can solve some of the most common issues with traditional mentoring programs that use manual matching strategies.

Among many other benefits, matching tools help:

  • Eliminate matching bias
  • Significantly reduce administrative time burden
  • Create opportunities for more dynamic and comprehensive matches
  • Allow for faster and more efficient program scaling

Before you dive too far into manual matching or pilot programs, read below. This post will help you understand how a software approach improves mentoring program outcomes.

Take it with you:

Stuck between manual matching and software? Download our free definitive guide: The Darkside of Manual Mentoring

What Is a Mentor Matching Engine?

A mentor matching engine is an algorithm-based tool that matches mentors and mentees together. While it’s 100% software (so no internal moving parts or combustion engines needed), it works much like a machine: insert your fuel (data on your mentors and mentees) to generate power (matches) and output your results (metrics).

I know what you’re thinking here: Wait, that output is usually just toxic fumes. That doesn’t sound like a good result for a mentoring program.

Yes and no. The output of any engine heavily depends on two things:

  1. The type of engine you’re using
  2. The type and quality of the fuel you put into it

Some mentor-mentee matching tools are more like traditional combustion engines. They pull together various fossil fuels like gasoline and their output is often worse for the environment than the fuel that went into it. Others, however, are more like hydrogen internal combustion engines. You input a plentiful natural resource (hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe), and your output is good for the environment.

🌈 The More You Know: Hydrogen-powered engines work by combining hydrogen and oxygen to create energy. Their only output is (drinkable!) water vapor and warm air. Toyota, a current leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology development, has an excellent factsheet if you want to learn more.

That extended metaphor takes us to this important point: Employees look at mentoring as an essential part of their career journey. An edX survey found that 80% of employees would stay longer if their company offered learning and development opportunities. And 53% of executives want to provide upskilling and training at scale. Algorithm-based mentor matching engines do both, creating a win-win scenario for employees and executives.

How Mentor Matching Engines Work

As noted above, a mentor matching engine is, at its heart, an algorithm-based tool designed to pair mentors and mentees together. There are rather complex functions that go into making that work, but here’s a high-level understanding of what’s needed:

  1. A large enough population size. The algorithm that powers mentor matching engines works best when the input (the population size) is large enough to support high-quality matches. E.g., if you only have around 20 employees, the diversity of interests and needs may not produce quality matches. Alternatively, if you have 5,000 employees, you’re far more likely to get better match results because the diversity of personality types, interests, goals, and other criteria are more likely to lead to high-quality matches.
  2. Survey data and matching criteria: A mentor matching engine only works with adequate data. For matching mentors and mentees, that data comes down to the surveys participants complete upon enrollment, and the criteria you set that give the matching algorithm its guidelines.
  3. Customization: Matching engines should be as automated as possible, but that doesn’t mean you should have no control over the behavior. These engines get the best results when administrators can adjust the matching logic to get results that matter to their organization.
  4. Visualized matching scores: This is the part of matching engines that most admins find the most engaging and fun. When you insert the requisite data and let the algorithm run, you quickly get visualized results with percentage-based match scores. The higher the score, the better the match, and the more likely the relationship will be free-flowing, positive, and fruitful.

A mentor matching engine is an excellent tool for solving real-world problems for mentors and mentees paired in skill-based relationships or buddy systems where mentors and mentees are at a similar tenure level. It is equipped with several tools that improve the efficiency of the mentoring relationship, as well as make it easier for mentees to access and communicate with their mentors anytime.

Wait! Are you matching for the first time? Check out this Mentoring Soundbites video to gain some new insight and strategies on how to match mentors and mentees.

Benefits of Using a Mentor Matching Engine

The following is a glimpse of the common benefits that companies enjoy when using a mentor matching engine:

  • It reduces the transaction costs involved with traditional mentoring programs
  • It is designed to make it easier to track the progress of the mentoring program and gain insight into improvements
  • It facilitates deeper engagement and more efficient mentoring
  • It delivers a discussion-based environment that facilitates document sharing, video conferencing, and collaboration with other mentors

MentorcliQ’s mentor matching tool was built to respond to the consistent frustrations reported by talent development leaders trying to run successful mentoring programs. Matching has historically been one of the most significant burdens to launching mentoring programs.

Because of this, manually-run programs that rely on hand matching are usually limited in the number of participants that can be matched, and the number of programs administrators can run at any one time — at least, not without an army of program administrators on hand. Ultimately, manually run programs don’t produce the type of ROI that makes them an effective training, development, and engagement strategy.

Have you seen what mentor-mentee matching software can do? Book a demo to look under the hood of a mentor-matching engine.

There’s a reason why 92% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. They both see the value in them and are more likely to invest in the technology that makes mentoring easier to establish at scale across their organizations.

The following are some of the benefits you can enjoy when you utilize a software approach for your mentoring programs that start with a mentor matching engine.

For Mentors

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Mentor matching engines can expand the number of mentors you have available for mentoring programs. By eliminating the amount of lift needed to enroll in a program, mentors can join a program and after completing a quick survey, be matched with mentees almost immediately. However, program administrators can also examine best-fit matches determined by the system and pair based on suggested matches.

Additionally, mentoring software allows mentors to keep a better track of mentoring goals and milestones, communications, and learning goals.

For Mentees

Mentees are the biggest beneficiaries of mentoring software and mentor matching engines (as they should be!). As with mentors, mentees can enroll quickly and get matched quickly. They also have access to tools that help them track progress toward milestones and goals, integrated communications with their mentors, and a platform that even allows on-demand mentoring with open mentoring programs.

For Organizations

Organizations have an understandable need to see results from mentoring program software. If you’re going to put up the resources for a mentor matching engine and mentoring software, it should help you achieve critical objectives.

Thankfully, mentoring software can produce incredible results when utilized correctly. In fact, with MentorcliQ’s mentoring software, companies see an average 50% reduction in turnover.

That’s just one area where mentoring software produces significant cost savings and ROI, but for most companies, it’s enough to get the conversation going on applying mentoring strategies for other business objectives, such as succession planning, leadership development, and DEI.

Remember: Mentoring Is More than the Match

The use of mentor-matching software is a reliable way to achieve more accuracy with your mentoring program. However, as important as matching is, effective relationships must have meaning. Make sure your mentoring programs are effectively structured and well-planned so that once mentors and mentees are matched, they’re working toward goals that lead to successful program and relationship outcomes. Commonly, one of the biggest hurdles to that kind of success is how well mentors themselves are prepared to step into that role.

Let’s keep this conversation going. Read more on how to assess whether your mentors are ready — and what to do if they aren’t.

Sam Cook