5 Reasons to Never Use A Spreadsheet to Match Mentors & Mentees

Spreadsheet matching

Great mentoring starts with great matches, right?

So let’s talk about the ubiquitous spreadsheet.

It does a lot of things amazingly well, and can be leant on in both good times and bad – for almost anything. Almost anything.

But the spreadsheet should not be used to match mentors and mentees.

In fact, while Mentorloop’s smart matching tools were designed to be a core element of a fully integrated mentoring platform (which does everything mentoring related well) – they were also largely designed to simply usurp the spreadsheet, which we simply couldn’t keep letting people use to match mentors and mentees – for the benefit of everyone.

The rise and increasingly frequent adoption of mentoring software is testament to the fact that using spreadsheets and emails to match mentors and mentees just didn’t – and doesn’t – quite do the job.

But there are still plenty of mentoring programs out there in the world which rely on manual matching methods including spreadsheets, sticky notes, and plain old paper.

While at times it can be scary to give up what you know for something new, and move from trusty spreadsheets to software platforms, here are 5 reasons you should save the spreadsheet for those other data driven tasks – and adopt mentoring software for the very human task of mentor-mentee matching.


1. Humans are the ultimate multivariables.

Ever meet a person and just not quite click? Maybe they are very similar to people you genuinely enjoying being around, but there’s one variable which is different.

Humans are infinitely complicated creatures, with very complex personality traits, preferences, and everything in between. Using a spreadsheet simply doesn’t give you the scope or flexibility required to make matches across experience, skills, personality, preferences, and relationship goals. Not while staying sane anyway.

spreadsheet mentor mentee matching

*note: unsolved ^

Mentoring software matching isn’t perfect, But it does give you far more flexibility and scope in deciding who should be matched on what criteria, and how many criteria. It also brings a human element to the coordinated matching. Rather than writing an excel function, you can oversee the matches, and make changes and use your intuition and understanding where possible.

coordinated mentor mentee matching

Coordinated matching too much work? Use other smart matching tools – including self-matching, which requires no effort on your part (bonus). Both make things infinitely more easy and scalable than a spreadsheet.


2. What do you do before and after the spreadsheet?

It’s not just about matching with a spreadsheet. It’s about how that spreadsheet then ‘plugs into’ all the other components of your mentoring program i.e it doesn’t.

The spreadsheet is a bottleneck for your program. Even if/when you do get your mentors and mentees matched correctly, you’ll have to start again after that step and manually reach out to each and every pairing to let them know about their match – or worse, share the spreadsheet for all to see so that everyone can judge your pairings.

Software platforms are beautiful in that your entire program can live in one place – from beginning to end. From onboarding to reporting.


3. Admin, admin, admin

We have had conversations with a lot of mentoring program coordinators, a lot of whom do run their programs manually.

It’s a hassle.

It takes a lot of time and effort, and it’s unnecessary effort. Spending time rearranging post-it notes or excel cells doesn’t add any value to your mentoring program. It simply adds admin burden and admin time – which no one wants to do nor probably has time for.

Get rid of annoying admin, and free yourself up for important stuff which can’t be automated or simplified with software.


4. Scale, scale, scale

It is so difficult (impossible) to scale a mentoring program using manual matching methods. And you should be looking to scale your mentoring offering.

Mentoring shouldn’t be inhibited by admin to the detriment of 80% of 90% of your people. Mentoring works best at scale.

It works best when your program spans large departments or your entire organisations. When you build a culture of mentoring where everyone is learning, sponsored, and supported.

You can’t begin to match 5,000 employees with any confidence using a spreadsheet.


5. Mentoring deserves more than the spreadsheet credit it’s getting

Mentoring is an incredibly powerful tool for individuals and organisations. A good mentor really can change a life, and enough great mentorship can transform an organisation.

Using a spreadsheet and other piecemeal solutions to run your mentoring program signals to your people and your bosses that mentoring isn’t something worth in investing.

It shows a lack-of buy-in at every level of the organisation. And if you underinvest in your mentoring program, then your mentoring program will be under-utilised and ineffective.

Great mentoring starts with great matches. Great matches aren’t created with the spreadsheet.

(we still love you spreadsheets)

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Lucy is the Co-founder and CEO of Mentorloop.

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[…] the past – and still today – many mentoring program admin activities have been conducted via spreadsheets and email, which is completely unnecessary. Does the mentoring platform you are buying solve these pain […]