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Match Intervention Protocol: Un-Matching Phone Call Best Practices

This article outlines the following, related to the phone call  Program Mangers (PMs) complete with mentors that must be placed on probationary status.  The article is broken into three sections (click the hyperlinked text below to skip to each section):

Objectives of the Un-Matching Call

The un-matching call is designed to achieve the following:

  • To discuss how mentor might not be best fit for our program;
  • To discuss closure letter and ending the match healthfully.

Best Practices for the Un-Matching Call

Over the years, the following best practices have been developed by PMs with regard to completing un-matching calls in a way that fosters the objectives listed above:

  • Be clear and direct while maintaining a warm tone;
  • Actively listen—paraphrase your mentors’ comments back to them;
  • When possible, let the mentor do the talking—they often know what they could be doing differently;
  • Avoid judgment and stay objective—try using phrases like, “I’ve noticed…” or “I saw that…”;
  • Take great notes—especially about next steps- and ensure these are reflected on the mentor's platform profile;
  • Don’t take it personally—these conversations can be hard for mentors to hear, so adopt a supportive tone while maintaining some emotional distance from the mentor’s response.

Talking Points for the Un-Matching Call

The following talking points are designed to support PMs in high-quality execution of the un-matching call with mentors by covering the topics below (click the hyperlinked text below to skip to each section):

Frame the conversation

Hey Mark, I’m calling to discuss some concerns about your relationship with Johnny—do you have 5-10 minutes to talk?

  • If yes: "Great!Thanks for taking the time to talk, [mentor].
  • If not: "Alright, can we set up an alternate time?" (confirm that you will call the mentor and send a calendar appointment for the agreed upon time).

Present the concern and explain/revisit the circumstances that led to the un-matching decision

Begin by framing the conversation at a high level - simply noting that you are calling to discuss the mentor's relationship with their mentee.  In honest and direct terms, discuss the need to un-match the mentor and the reasoning behind the decision.

"Thanks for taking the time to talk, [mentor].  I’m calling to follow up on the conversation we had in [time of probationary status call] about probationary status and regularly meeting up with and messaging [mentee] on the platform.  First off, how do you think things are going at this point?
I did notice that, that you haven’t been able to meet up with Johnny since the conversation we had back in [time of probationary status call].

  • Allow time for the mentor to respond/reflect.

"Unfortunately, because it’s been so hard for you to meet the basic commitment to regularly communicate and meet with [mentee], I feel like this program might not be the best fit for you right now and I do think it’s best that we un-match you from [mentee].  I know this means a lot to you and I don’t want to keep you in a position where you aren’t able to support him as much as you’d wish.

  • Allow time for the mentor to respond.

(Depending on mentor response) "It’s totally normal to feel a bit [frustrated and sad] about the situation.  The most important thing at this point is to make sure we handle everything well going forward.  I know you do care about [mentee] and the effect this may be having on him and, for this reason, I want to be extra careful about ending your relationship with him on a positive note and putting him in a position where he can open up to future mentors."

Strategize next steps to close the match in as healthy a manner possible

"The most effective way to close a match is to [meet in person one last time/communicate on the platform one last time (depending on circumstances)].  During that [meeting and/or platform message], there are a couple of key points that I really need you to cover with [mentee].  I’ll send you a follow-up email reiterating these too. (list points below)."

  • Express that you really loved spending time with [mentee] and getting to know him;
  • Emphasize that you want [mentee] to have a mentor who can dedicate as much time and energy to the match as he deserves;
  • Reflect upon at least one area of growth and development that you’ve witnessed in her/him;
  • Share one memory where [mentee] taught you something meaningful about him or about yourself.

"Also, [mentor], and I know this is hard, but please don’t make promises you can’t keep, especially about staying in touch or meeting up in the future."

  • PMs should advise mentor not to stay in touch or meet up if there are concerns about effect this may have on mentee and establish a time by which the closure meeting/message will be executed. 

"Do you think you’ll be able to [have this conversation/send this message] with [mentee] before our class on Wednesday?  Please know that I’ll follow up with [mentee] in class to see how s/he’s doing and to make sure s/he understands how much you care about her/him and that this has nothing to do with her/him."

Provide space for the mentor to ask questions

Thank the mentor again for their commitment to the program/ and his/her mentee, as well as for taking the time to speak.  

"I want to thank you again, [mentor], for taking the time to speak with me today.  Do you have any questions about the un-matching process?"

  • Allow time for mentor to ask questions.

"Is there anything I can do at this point that you think would make it go more smoothly?"

  • Allow time for mentor to respond.

"Please know that I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for [mentee] up to this point and, even though it seems like iMentor might not be the best fit for you, I really do think you have a lot to offer a high school student and I really want to encourage you to check out mentoring programs that might be a better fit with your schedule. "

Summarizing action items and next steps

Before closing the call, be sure to reiterate the timeline on which the mentor plans to execute the final meeting/complete the final online message. 

"Just to reiterate so we are on the same page, we agreed that you will m[meet your mentee/complete the last online communication on DATE].  Please know that I’m here as a resource for you and will do whatever I can to support you as you wrap up your relationship with [mentee]—this is what I’m here for!  Thanks again and I look forward to seeing [you (if one last meeting)/your final message (if no meeting)] on [date agreed upon to check in on progress]."