The tour-of-duty model offers many benefits for attracting and retaining employees. In this video, you’ll learn tips for implementing the model and words of caution for common mistakes.
- So, now that we've talked about the three different types of tour of duty, the rotational, transformational, and foundational tours, the question becomes, how do you mix these three together? And what's interesting is that each of these is providing a different ingredient to the mix. I like to think of this as building an alloy out of several different metals. By building the right mix, you can actually have the characteristics that you want to make your company successful. So, the rotational tour of duty is providing the scalability, and this is really important when you need to bring in a lot of people, build a very large workforce.
That rotational tour of duty allows you to do that in an almost automated and mass-production way. So, if you're a large company that has a lot of employees like McDonalds or UPS, it's quite rational to have a lot of rotational tours of duty. The transformational tours of duty provide the adaptability the organization needs to accommodate change and to tackle new opportunities. So, the proportion of transformational tours is gonna increase based on how much your company needs to adapt.
Startups, for example, are comprised almost entirely of people on transformational tours of duty, because so much is happening and so much is changing. Even in a larger company, oftentimes you'll bring in someone on a transformational tour of duty to lead an new initiative, or open up a new office, or otherwise expand the business in a way that outside the routine. The final type of tour of duty is the foundational tour of duty, and the foundational tour of duty provides literally that, the foundation, the underpinnings for the culture and the approach that the company takes.
These foundational tour of duty employees act as a way of tying together the entire whole. So, the mix is gonna depend a great deal on the circumstances of your company. A company that is extremely stable and has a high degree of automation might have both rotational tours of duty and foundational tours of duty at a relatively higher incidence, and transformational tours of duty at a lower incidence. Again, as I've mentioned, a startup company might have one or two founders on a foundational tour of duty, the vast majority of employees on a transformational tour of duty, and nobody on a rotational tour of duty other than a summer intern or two.
The nature of the challenge, in other words the nature of the alloy you wanna create is gonna determine the blend of the tours of duty you're going to build. - One thing that's important when you're thinking about these three tours of duty is to not be too rigid about them. It's perfectly possible that someone would start on a rotational, and then by mutual arrangement you go, oh no, actually in fact this person can be really important for the company, we should move to transformational. Or a person starts on a transformational tour, and then again by working together, the mutual recognition is we're actually on a foundational tour here.
In these shifts between tours, both on the employee and on the employer side, it should again be part of an open and trust-generating conversation. It should be part of, here's what I see, here's what I want, do you see the world similarly, and how can we make this into our alliance? And that's the kind of thing that is the reason why not to think about it too formulaicly, is that it's really a human relationship, it's really a here is how we are working together, here is how we are allying together in order to accomplish both the company's objectives and things that are good for your career and your job.
One common manager concern, but also misconception, about tours of duty is that it leads to shorter employee tenures. And the reason is, is because the manager feels, if I raise this topic, then I'm essentially giving moral permission to leave, and in fact, I would actually like the employee to stay, I would like then not give that moral permission. The first thing is, that moral permission is not yours to give. We live in a free society, the progress in terms of career and what jobs and what the right fit is, that's determined by the employee and the circumstance.
By saying I'm implicitly not trying to give that moral permission, you're essentially saying, your role to me here in this company is more important than my relationship with you. And actually, in fact, you wanna say, our relationship together as allies is what's most important. And, when you begin to do that, what you create is a much healthier work environment where when the employee is saying, well, what's good for me, it's like, well, I have a really great relationship with this manager. They care about me and what's happening with me, they care about my career progression, that it isn't just secondary to what I can do for the manager in the company.
And once you begin to build that relationship, you have much better employee retention, much better longevity, and it's like the case I mentioned with David Hahn, which we mention somewhat in the book as well, is that by having that trust, even when the employee sees, I think I've played out my time here, I will still come talk to you first and see if that's true, and then that gives you a chance to actually have another tour of duty that can actually make a real impact in the company before the employee has gone out and looked for other jobs, and perhaps even committed to something.
Reid and Chris share specific insights from their own experiences with companies like PayPal, Kapost, and LinkedIn, and more.
- Defining a rotational, transformational, or foundational tour of duty
- How to identify each employee's values and aspirations
- Aligning employee, manager, and company goals
- Establishing and leveraging alumni networks