For the most successful mentoring program, an employer should implement a formal process, which ensures accountability, says Jason Carney, director of human resources at WorkSmart Systems Inc., a professional employer organization in Indianapolis. 

As part of a formal arrangement, the mentoring program should have buy-in from senior leadership and be designed and administered from a central location, Carney says. While relationships differ, goals should be specifically outlined and consistent among participants. Carney recommends that one of these sources checks in on the mentoring relationship at least a few times a year.

"Informal mentor programs have the tendency to go off the rails," Carney says. "Anytime you're dealing with relationship issues, which is exactly what a mentor program is, you have a real potential for some disaster. You need someone checking up on the program and making sure it's handled consistently."

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