Corporate Mentorship: How to Match Mentors With Mentees

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If you’re looking to implement a mentoring program—perhaps with the help of an upskilling platform—you’re going to need a few “ingredients”. You’ll need to think about the rules, conduct, goals, or formats that govern your program. Above all, though, corporate mentorship programs require participants. They need people who want to share their knowledge, they need people who want to gain that same knowledge, and—crucially—they need to bring the right members of each group together, ensuring that mentees are learning about the skills they want to master.

Let’s look at the incentives, encouragement, and technology that turn an empty talent marketplace into a thriving community of people driven by a shared commitment to skills development.

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Recruiting Mentors

In broad terms, it’s not difficult to get a sense of which of your employees would make a good mentor. The skill and experience your people demonstrate in their day-to-day should be enough to suggest that they’ve something worth passing on to their colleagues. However, it’s possible (and advisable!) to get a little more precise. Skills mapping technology will enable you to find out exactly what skills an organization in your industry needs—and, by comparing those ideal skills with the ones your organization currently holds, you’ll quickly generate a laundry list of skills worth sharing.

With your list in hand, it then becomes a simple matter of identifying those employees who possess the skills your organization needs to cultivate: these people will be prime candidates for taking on a mentor role. But how do you persuade them to participate?

For some employees, recognition of their expertise will be flattering enough—and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to supercharge that flattery with public recognition along the lines of a ‘Mentor of the Month’ scheme. Research suggests that intrinsic rewards are a great way to improve motivation and performance, so you might find these programs inspire your people to go above and beyond in the mentoring stakes. 

Alternatively, you might find some prospective mentors are swayed by the prospect of developing new skills of their own. After all, expert colleagues aren’t necessarily expert teachers or communicators, but mentoring is a perfect chance to develop those soft skills and highlight the reciprocity at the heart of any good mentoring program.

It’s also worth couching mentoring in terms of the meaningful impact it can have on the people around the mentor. Just look at Gartner’s research, which suggests employees are increasingly looking to derive value and purpose from their jobs. A mentor role can provide that sense of purpose, regardless of the industry you’re in or the role of the mentor in question—making mentoring a highly versatile vehicle for finding a sense of meaning at work. That’s a powerful motivator for any employees who still find themselves on the fence.

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Encouraging Mentee Participation

Making the case for mentee participation is an even easier sell. 

It’s well documented that employees of all professions and levels actively look for opportunities to advance their careers—for example, in a McKinsey survey of frontline workers, a huge 70% were found to have applied for such opportunities. Mentorship holds a special place in your professional development toolkit because there’s a practical dimension to it. Your people aren’t just learning about a new skill in theory, but engaging with the lived experiences of a person in a role they’re hoping to acquire.

In fact, the most challenging aspect of mentor participation could be as simple as helping your people figure out what skills they want to develop. After all, wanting career growth isn’t the same thing as knowing the direction you want to grow in or the skills you need to get there. A good talent platform can make this easier for your employees by suggesting skills based on the career moves they’re looking to make, allowing them access to roles that—with a little mentor-driven guidance—they may never have encountered before.

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Matching Mentors and Mentees

To effectively match your mentors and mentees, you’ll need a talent platform that provides mentors with a space to broadcast their availability. However, it’s not just about availability: your mentors will also need to signpost the skills that they’re qualified to teach. 

At the same time, your skills platform should allow your mentees to identify the skills they want to develop—drawing from the same taxonomy of skills that your mentors will use to showcase their specialisms. Your mentees don’t have to start from scratch, either. These skills can be recommended by your talent or skills platform based on your people’s aspirations and the skills your organization needs to cultivate. 

With a little AI infusion, your talent or skills platform should have no problem absorbing all this handy skills data and using it to automatically recommend mentors willing to help with the precise skills your people are looking to learn. This is an essential step for any organization that’s serious about its mentoring capabilities. It’s a surefire way to ensure that every stakeholder is squeezing every ounce of potential out of your mentorship program.

Looking To Maintain Your Mentoring Program?

Get a taste of the best ways to evaluate and improve your program and ensure your mentors are willing to stick around for the long haul with our ebook, ‘3 Elements of a Successful Mentorship Program.’

Picture of Chris Coffman

Chris Coffman

Chris is VP Product & Engineering for Bridge. Prior to joining Bridge in 2019, Chris led Product Management, Project Management, and UX for Rosetta Stone’s global language-learning business. Chris has over a decade of experience leading and coaching product teams. He began his career in venture capital and consulting, in the Silicon Valley and in Europe. Chris holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the University of Washington.

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