A tour of duty helps define a mission that an employee will complete and how that mission directly benefits both the employee as well as the employer. Learn about the three types of tours of duty.
- A key concept in the alliance is a tour of duty. The term has been borrowed from the military, but repurposed to this different and unique context within corporations. And the reason we use a tour of duty is because the parallel is that you set a mission that requires a approximate amount of time, usually on the basis of years, that allows both the employee and the employer to plan for the future, to essentially kinda say here's what we're gonna do during this tour, here's what we're gonna change in the employee's life, here's what we're gonna change in the employer, and this is the mission that we're gonna accomplish together.
And that is very reminiscent of what the military does with a tour of duty. - We've broken down tours of duty into three different types. The first type of tour of duty is what we call the rotational tour of duty, very similar to the kind of two-year programs that happen at, say, a Goldman Sachs or a McKinsey & Company. The second type of tour of duty is the type we'll focus on most, which is what we call the transformational tour of duty. This is often what happens when somebody is working at a startup and growing with that company. And the final type is what we call the foundational tour of duty.
This is the kind of tour of duty where someone actually does believe they're gonna be at the company for the rest of their career. And we'll talk about how you're actually able to define that and make it happen. Together, these three different types of tours of duty combine together to produce a company that is more resilient and adaptable, and ultimately achieves better business results. - One central thing for thinking about tours of duty is that it's an ethical commitment, not a legal commitment. What is that? A legal commitment's a contract, you can sue somebody, it's a heavyweight thing.
An ethical commitment is, I, on my character, and honor, and value as a person, commit to this. Doesn't mean you can't break an ethical commitment, but you recognize that you're doing something wrong, and that you try to make good on it. Sometimes you're forced to, but you try to make good. And an ethical commitment is much better than legal, because legal is very heavyweight, usually it's legal is in the circumstances of we don't trust each other, whereas ethical is we are allies, and we hope and anticipate that this alliance will go for many years, many decades into the future.
A core part of the alliance is this ethical commitment. So, what happens when it breaks? Well, both sides should realize this is now being broken, whether it's being broken by the employee or the company, and that this is a wrong. And so, if you hope to preserve the relationship, if you hope to preserve the trust, you should try to make good that wrong. Say, for example, I'm an employee, and I'm on a tour of duty, and I'm not complete yet with that tour of duty, and yet another just great opportunity rolls in.
Well, I might go to the employer and say, "Okay, look, this great opportunity has rolled in. "I wasn't really looking for it, "and I feel like I have to take it. "What can I do, given that I have to take it, "in order to most make good?" The employer might say, "Well, really look for your replacement." They might say, "Look, you're doing us a lot of harm here, "really want you not to do this. "Maybe if you encounter things in the future "like helping us recruit people and so forth "as you're doing this, "you can help make good for the wrong you've done." If you're an employer you say, "Look, I've hired you for this project, "I told you we were gonna do this project, "but I'm now changing the project.
"I'm now no longer giving you that career opportunity." It's like, "Well, I have these other opportunities, "I might help you try to find something, "either great within the company, "or even try to help you find something great "outside the company." And in each of these cases, it's the I recognize that I've done something that's breaking this ethical commitment, and I'm gonna do my best over time to make good on that, and to make it like, okay, you didn't quite hold up to the original deal, but you have really tried to do and honor the ethical and moral commitment, the agreement that we reached when we first agreed on this tour of duty.
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