This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0
 

  The Herman Trend Alert

June 19, 2013

Corporate "Tours of Duty"

Spending a lifetime with one employer is a thing of the past. For most employees, corporate loyalty is dead. According to a recent article in the "Harvard Business Review", what has emerged to take its place is a "transactional, laissez-faire approach that serves neither party well".

What's needed is a new Employer-Employee Compact, built on temporary alliances and reciprocity---not unlike what Herman and Gioia outlined in their Corporation of the Future chapter in their bestselling business book, "Lean & Meaningful: a new Culture for Corporate America". In the book, the authors detail how individuals, employed as "free agents" will work with a company only as long as each party adds value to the other; then workers will leave and go work on contract elsewhere.

Apparently, the high-tech start-up community of Silicon Valley is leading the way. The provocative article by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh, implies that "companies that wish to be similarly agile and entrepreneurial can learn valuable lessons from [this] example.

The authors outline three easy steps companies may take to implement the new compact: (1) Hire "employees for explicit 'tours of duty'," (2) Encourage, "even subsidize, employees' efforts to build networks outside the organization", and (3) Establish "active alumni networks that will enable career-long relationships with employees after they've left the organization. Not to be overlooked is the company's investment in workers' employability.

In today's competitive environment, this kind of strategy can make a huge difference in helping the organization to hire the adaptable top talent who will support the company's success. One very important aspect of this strategy is "intrapreneurship"---encouraging workers to become more entrepreneurial within the organization.

Smart managers in Silicon Valley understand that encouraging intrapreneurship actually increases retention by helping managers rethink how they relate to talent within their organizations. Moreover, many managers have even come to understand that they can benefit from relationships with workers who do depart for other opportunities.

Embracing this type of contract with workers can help all organizations create more successful futures. However, adopting this way of working will require letting go of deeply held beliefs about retention and comprehending the value of putting individual growth temporarily ahead of organizational success.


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