Focusing on more powerful Matching capabilities and making scheme Evaluation significantly easier.
A new release of sfG MentorNet was made available in November 2019. The main focus of the release was making matching administration easier and making it easy to encourage mentors and mentees to complete evaluation questionnaires. Already the improvements to the matching administration have produced tangible results – Anna Klenert from Oxford Brookes University said of the new release: “The new features helped tremendously. The matching time has reduced from approximately 4 days to 2 days.”
Matching Enhancements – Introducing ‘Provisional Matches’
Typically there are two different ways in which administrators manage the matching process – either mentees are matched with mentors continuously over time (i.e. a match could be made at any time); or all matching is done at the same time, e.g. at the start of a fixed-term mentoring programme. This new feature will significantly help the latter type of matching process.
If, as the administrator, you are matching all mentees at the same time, you will want to take a holistic view to ensure that the most appropriate mentors are matched to each mentee. For example, you don’t want to match one mentor to a particular mentee at the start of your process and then discover later they would have been better matched with a different mentee. You want to be able to make a ‘provisional’ match and then change your mind at a later date, before making a final decision.
sfG MentorNet now allows you to do exactly this. Instead of simply confirming/approving a match, you can make a ‘provisional’ match which can be changed at a later date. No match is made, and no emails are sent out, until you are happy with your choices and you change the ‘provisional’ matches to ‘confirmed’ matches. Then all match emails will be sent out at the same time.
The Matching Admin screen is now colour coded so you can easily see the status (e.g. requested, provisionally accepted, provisionally rejected) of each requested match:
When you provisionally accept a match, the system will ask you if you want to provisionally reject any other matches the mentee might have requested. In this way, the colours on your screen will build up and gradually the white lines will turn either green or red, showing you clearly which matches you are planning to accept and which you are planning to reject. Then once you are happy, you hit the button and action all the changes at once.
Matching Enhancements – More Information to Help you Create the Best Matches
During the matching process, the more information you have available at your fingertips, the higher the quality your matching is likely to be.
During the matching process, sfG MentorNet can now show you a summary of selected information about each potential mentor–mentee pair, so that you can easily view key information about the mentor and the mentee. You can then decide whether to accept/reject each potential match, based on a much more informed point of view.
Evaluating your mentoring scheme is an important part of understanding what works and what doesn’t, so that you can revise and adapt your mentoring scheme accordingly. Evaluation is often done using post-mentoring questionnaires once the mentoring relationship has finished. But often it is hard to persuade mentors and mentees to engage with a questionnaire once their mentoring program has finished, and it can be very time-consuming for administrators to chase their users.
sfG MentorNet now includes a more formal process for closing relationships, and that process can include automatically sending a simple questionnaire link to a mentor and/or mentee at the end of the relationship. The mentor/mentee simply receives the email, clicks a single link and answers the questions. They don’t have to log on, enter their name, or do anything else which might discourage them from filling in the questionnaire. And, of course, the questionnaire answers can be reported on and analysed within sfG MentorNet by an administrator.
The new release of sfG MentorNet includes a number of other significant enhancements – brief details are given below, but please get in touch if you’d like to find out more:
1. Mentee/Mentor Matching – Advanced Structured Search
sfG MentorNet has always allowed administrators and mentees (providing mentees have the appropriate permission) to search for mentors using a standard keyword search. The keywords are compared against all fields in a mentor’s user profile and any mentor whose user profile contains any of the search keyword(s) within any user profile field would be included in the search results.
Now this search has been extended so you can create a very structured search, allowing you to search within specific user profile fields. You can even combine the structured search with the non-structured keyword search. The following are examples of some of the searches you could create:
- all mentors who have a specific job title
- all mentors aged between 21 and 25
- all mentors who have industry experience in sales and also in marketing
- all mentors who have completed the relevant training and who live in London
- all mentors who are in a specific industry sector, are aged between 21 and 25, and have the keywords “marketing” or “sales” within their user profile.
The search results will also show clearly which fields have been matched and give an indication of the ‘score’ or closeness of the match. The higher the ‘score’, the more criteria have been met.
2. Entry Questionnaires
Often you may want to ask your mentors/mentees to complete an ‘entry’ questionnaire when they first create a MentorNet account. You might eventually want to compare these answers against an ‘exit questionnaire’ so you can measure the impact of the mentoring programme. sfG MentorNet is now able to incorporate an ‘entry questionnaire’ within the user registration process, so that the questionnaire is part of the account registration process. This forces your mentors/mentees to complete the questionnaire and will ensure a 100% completion rate for the questionnaire.
3. User Registration – Reviewing and Approving New User Profiles
As an administrator, when you are deciding whether to accept or reject a new user registration, you may want to ‘send it back’ to the user with a request for more information. For example, a mentee may not have filled in all the fields satisfactorily and you may want them to rectify this before you will approve their registration.
Now you can do exactly this. As well as the ‘Approve’ and ‘Reject’ buttons, there is now a new button called ‘Review’ (see below):
Clicking ‘Review’, opens a new window where you can type feedback to be sent back to the user. This will be sent back within an automated email generated by the system. Once you have sent this request back to the user, the ‘new user’ entry in the dashboard will be colour-coded with a red background (see screenshot above) to illustrate that this registration request has been sent back to the user. Once the user logs in and updates their profile, the colour-coding will change to a green background, illustrating that you can now review the registration again.
4. User Registration – Additional Help Fields
When mentors and mentees go through the user registration process and complete their user profiles, it can sometimes be helpful to give them guidance on how you would like them to answer each question.
The user registration process now has the ability to display explanatory text for any user profile field, so you are able to give the mentor/mentee additional instructions as to how you would like them to fill in the field: