The Alliance–Managing (Entrepreneurial) Talent in the Networked Age

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, co-authors this definitive recruit-bender guide which tries to address the distrust between employee and employer with ‘Alliance’ as a new paradigm to create trust and enduring relationship that’s mutually beneficial. Treating employees as allies and assigning them ‘Tour of Duty’ is the change of attitude an employer to make to make this happen. Some ideas captured here to help to run your company / your branded “you” well in the networked age:

  1. ‘Tour of Duty’ comes from military where a soldier in his/her tenure goes through multiple ones typically diverse and different from every previous ones. This allows employer to incorporate some of the advantages of life time employment and free agency. It reduces pressure on both sides and builds trust incrementally. Each employer has to recast careers as successive tours of duty to attract and retain entrepreneurial talent. The gist is – Employee may quit at any time and that’s what they are empowered to do and the question is how long can you thwart that with mutual the trust to compete a tour of duty with mutual benefits
  2. Different Types of Tours – Rotational (assess the fit between employee and employer), Transformational (mission completion specific) , Foundational (top executives see to the end)
  3. Building Alignment in a tour of duty:
    1. Establish and disseminate the company’s core missions and values
    2. Learn each individual employee’s core aspirations and values
    3. ‘’Work together to align employee, manager and company
  4. Having The Conversation – Advice for Managers
    1. Define values in group – create a rough draft, present and seek feedback, there needs to be realistic understanding of the true company culture by a manager
    2. Define personal values one-on-one
    3. Build trust by opening up – Learning what an employee cares about helps build a relationship of trust. Asking participants to share their deepest feelings and beliefs for a single hour could generate the same sense of trust and intimacy that typically takes weeks, months and years to form. Direct questions like “Who’s the best co-worker you ever worked with?”, “What’s your proudest career moment?” help break down emotional distance. Its equally important to open up your own core aspirations and values to make this mutually equal.
  5. Managing the unexpected during the tour of duty
    1. What happens when one party breaks the alliance? – Employee can betray and just say it’s business and he‘ll lose future benefits and favourable references. For employers also there are similar and equal consequences
    2. What if one party is performing poorly? – Avoid short term knee jerk responses either side and look for long tern investments, but if it persists, either should release amicably and reasonably
    3. What if the employee wants to move into a new role within the company? – don’t block as long mission is completed or can be sustained by others and this lateral move is beneficial for both
  6. Network intelligence generates hidden data, serendipity and opportunity and how to implement a network intelligent program? – Tactics and Techniques investing in employee networks:
    1. Recruit Connected People: make a candidate’s network strength an explicit priority when hiring. It’s critical to define it – not on the number of followers/connections held but how far they could leverage that connections to solve a problem. In teh interview process, ask candidates about their strongest professional allies. Find out how they solve problems – do they call experts in their network. Reid during manager interview asks – who will the prospect hire after him? Reid will reach to them as a reference check as well.
    2. Teach Employees how to mine intelligence from their networks via conversation and social media: Knowledge isn’t valuable unless shared. Here are some questions to find answers and share those appropriate in the intranet with all employees/managers (Of course employees should use their discretion and always maintain their integrity) :–
      1. How is the key technology trend is shaping our industry?
      2. What are other companies (and competitors) doing that’s working or not working?
      3. What are our customers’ sentiments, what is motivating them, and how they have changed?
      4. who are the key people in the industry that we should engage with?
      5. what are the hiring trends in our industry?
      6. who are the new entrants in the marketplace and which of them are dong interesting things?
    3. Roll out programs and policies that help employees build their individual networks
      1. encourage Employees to be active on social media and to make themselves discoverable
      2. Setup a “networking fund” for employees: Networking lunch to get employees to talk smart people and summarize what they learnt in this conversation to all
      3. Facilitate speaking gigs for your employees
      4. Host events at your company office – meet-ups for like minded technical folks to share things and findings on industry trends
      5. Have employees share what they learn with the company: brown bag sessions, sharing research findings on new things connected to work
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