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Leading the Way

Pick-your-own mentor programs help new employees move ahead.

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This story appears in the August 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Scott Allison, 41, knows the value of mentors for recruiting, retaining, developing and motivating his 44 employees. "Every time we've done an employee survey, mentorship has popped up as an interest and a need," says the president and CEO of San Francisco-based national independent communications firm Allison & Partners.

Allison's appreciation for mentoring dates to the early days of the 4-year-old company. Back then, however, the firm didn't have enough resources to establish a formal mentoring program; there weren't enough senior people to supply mentors to everyone who was interested. Allison decided to allow for informal mentoring, where employees got to choose their own mentors. That method, he figured, made the most of the mentoring resources he had. The approach worked well enough that today, even though Allison has enough senior employees to designate mentors, he still uses the voluntary program.

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