What to do when a mentoring match goes wrong
It’s inevitable that a few mentoring matches won’t work. There’s never a program that gets matching 100% right every single time.
The good news is that you can still intervene and everyone can still have a positive mentoring experience despite a rough start.
Let’s take a look at how to figure out what went awry, how to address it, and the next steps you should take.
1. Lay The Groundwork For Good Feedback
First and foremost, let participants know you are available and willing to listen to their questions and feedback whenever they have them—not just at the beginning, middle, and end of the program. This will allow them to bring up any issues or concerns when they arise, meaning you can interfere before anything becomes a serious problem.
Make sure you set a friendly and approachable tone in your communication with all participants so they feel comfortable opening up to you when they need to. This will increase their trust in your ability to help them out and resolve any issues.
On Mentorloop, you can reinforce this message in a couple of ways:
- Your dashboard message. It's one of the first places participants go for more program information and sets the tone of your program, you can find and customise this in your Program Settings.
- Your 1:1 Loop introduction.
Mentorloop also sends regular post-meeting surveys to your participants to check how their meetings went. This allows you to get a quick snapshot of how individual relationships are progressing.
2. Figure Out What Went Wrong And Address It Accordingly
When a mentor or mentee comes to you with a concern, don’t panic and re-match straight away. First figure out what went wrong: Was it a timezone issue? Was someone having trouble communicating in a second language? Did some other form of miscommunication occur? Has there been inappropriate behaviour that needs to be escalated? Was someone completely unresponsive (check for possible technical issues if so)?
Look for the answers to these questions and address those issues first before simply re-matching. Oftentimes, it’s simple miscommunication that leads to participants’ raising concerns about their mentoring partners.
3. Mediate Or Re-Match
If it has simply been a small misunderstanding, try and smooth it over; it’s still possible to recover from a bad start if both parties see that it might have been an innocent misunderstanding, or an issue stemming from something beyond their control. If something more serious has occurred, close the relationship as amicably as possible.
Next, if using an algorithm or matching the participants yourself, check for similar issues (e.g. if it’s timezones or communication issues) before approving a draft match. If participants are matching themselves, guide them a bit so they can avoid the same pitfalls.
On Mentorloop, PCs and participants can peruse profiles and LinkedIn profiles (if provided by the participant) so better decisions can be made with the insight of what went wrong in the initial pairing. If your program allows participants to Self Match, you can advise your participants to use the match request’s messaging feature to inform potential mentoring partners about certain preferences. (e.g. preferred communication medium, time commitment expectations, preferred language, etc.)before they approve a match.
Document any concerns that arise so that you can avoid the same issues in the future. Can you have a location preference on your forms for those who really don’t do well with no face-to-face meetings? Can you include language preferences? Check to ensure your sign-up process asks for the information you need to more smoothly match participants.
The fact that some matches don’t work out doesn’t mean you’ve somehow failed some of your participants. Not everyone gets along and you shouldn’t be forcing any relationships that aren’t happening organically after an introduction. The important thing is to make sure you always intervene and make sure everyone still has a great experience in their mentoring journey no matter if the start was a bit rocky!
Advice from our Customer Success team:
"Rest assured, all programs have a few matches that need to be tweaked. Mentoring programs are iterative! Learning more about the matches that work best, and the matches that don't, help you improve the next program."