Recently I got my hands on “The Alliance – managing talent in the networked age” by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh. It was a gift from LinkedIn when they visited my company for a on site training with our Recruitment team. It sited for a while by my bed but finally I red it last week. Here’s my review and top insights.
The fundamental disconnect of modern employment: the employer – the employer-employee relationship is based on a dishonest conversation.The Alliance
Really like the perspective and ideas the authors present and got confronted with a powerful statement that I somewhat have experienced and seen the consequences – “the fundamental disconnect of modern employment: the employer-employee relationship is based on a dishonest conversation.”
Our employment relationships are based on lies
Imagine it’s your first day of work at a new company. Your manager greets you with warm enthusiasm, welcomes you to “the family,” and expresses her hope that you’ll be with the company for many years to come. Then she hands you off to the HR department, who sits you down in a conference room and spends thirty minutes explaining that you’re on a ninety-day probation period, and that even after that, you’ll be an “at will” employee. “At any moment, you can be fired. For any reason, you can be fired. Even if your boss has no reason at all, you can be fired.”The Alliance
The book begins with a well-known scenario. All of us, either as an employee or as an employer, directly or indirectly have been thru it or implicitly act by the idea behind it.
The “employment for life” era is long gone. Back then the deal was clear and straightforward. To their workers, companies “provide lifelong employment in exchange for loyal service”. It was like a marriage for life where career progress was predefined, predicable and both parts knew what to expect.
But everything changed and this old ‘stiff’ model doesn’t suit a fast paced, minute change, short term focused era. Flexibility stands out as a new requirement and these new times “treats both employees and jobs as short-term commodities”.
No one commits
Employees won’t commit with companies. Swear total loyalty but will leave for a better paycheck or new mission. Will always be open to listen to whom might reach them waving with a “great opportunity”. Won’t give their full potential. Will not finish their mission at hand, leaving the employer hanging and in need to replace a position.
Employers speak of retention, talent development and career opportunities but, as soon as needed, will drop anyone to cut costs or prefer to hire someone new rather than train those already at the company. Employers will provide careers that suit the company, not the employees, and ask “employees to commit to itself without committing to them in return”.
A business without loyalty is a business without long-term thinking. A business without long-term thinking is a business that’s unable to invest in the future. And a business that isn’t investing in tomorrow’s opportunities and technologies – well, that’s a company already in the process of dying.The Alliance
As a consequence “employers continually lose valuable people” and “employees fail to fully invest in their current position because they’re constantly scanning the market for new opportunities.”
Mutual trust and loyalty is low. And ”a business without loyalty is a business without long-term thinking. A business without long-term thinking is a business that’s unable to invest in the future. And a business that isn’t investing in tomorrow’s opportunities and technologies – well, that’s a company already in the process of dying.”
To cope with this problem, the authors present an employment framework that allows both parts to commit to each other and facilitates mutual trust, investment and benefit – The Alliance Framework.
This framework “encourages employees to develop their personal networks and act entrepreneurially without becoming mercenary job-hoppers” and “allows companies to be dynamic and demanding but discourages them from treating employees like disposable assets.”
Employment as an alliance – a mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms, between independent players.The Alliance
It is presented as a shift from a transactional approach to a relational one and states “employment as an alliance – a mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms, between independent players.”
With this approach employer and employee clearly state their intentions, expectations and future return of the investment both will put into the relationship (skills, experience, … for the employee, sales, product for the employer). Focusing in medium- and long-term benefits will establish a stranger and enduring partnership.
The key tool of this framework is the tour of duty, a term snatched from the military that “represents the ethical commitment by employer and employee to a specific mission.”
The framework encourages employees to develop their personal networks and act entrepreneurially without becoming mercenary job-hoppers and allows companies to be dynamic and demanding but discourages them from treating employees like disposable assets.The Alliance
Tours of duty state clear benefits and successes, are a powerful tool to attract and retain employees and for employees grow professionally.
The Alliance describes 3 types of tours of duty:
- Rotational – associated with a predefined role, has a fixed duration, not personalized to an employee, highly interchangeable between employees and typically associated wit entry level positions.
- Transformational – personalized, defined one-to-one, focused on the completion of specific mission and at the end both employee and company will have changed.
- Foundational – represents an exceptional alignment of employer and employee, most likely later in the career when the employee’s life work is the company mission and vice versa.
The book also covers other tools and guidance to implement The Alliance, with fully dedicated chapters:
- Employee Network Intelligence
- Corporate Alumni Networks
Without ever thinking of it this way, I’ve experienced in multiple ways the mutual lack of commitment context and the side effects of it.
It’s a closed inefficient circle of wrong actions leading to wrong reactions. That’s why employers and employees need to form an Alliance.
Company rainbow tales not even near the reality. People getting hired without a clear path, either in the candidate’s or the employer’s mind. Professionals stuck in missions or projects they no longer believe in or are tired of but are considered by the manager “very strategic and important for the mission”, until the day they get tired, leave and then everyone ends losing. Mistakes or failure punished as if a person couldn’t have a second chance or should be the only responsible for the result without any share of responsibility from the company. Companies leaving only up to the employee his career management. People leaving exclusively for higher paychecks at the middle of a mission. People demanding the world, not giving anything in return. People assuming the company is the sole responsible for its employee’s career. How easier it is to change an employee or a job, at the first opportunity, without a glimpse of effort from both sides.
It’s a closed inefficient circle of wrong actions leading to wrong reactions.
That’s why employers and employees need to form an Alliance.
About The Alliance
Learn about the framework at
Get an overview at
About the authors
Image Credit: Businessmen shaking hands from reynermedia under CC BY 2.0