Posted on June 26, 2015

Book Study Feature: The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age

_By Stacey M. Browning
Executive Vice President

One of our practices at Paycor is to host book discussions. We’ve done this at the senior leadership level as well as within formal and informal teams. One book getting our attention lately is The Alliance, authored by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh.

The Alliance discusses fresh approaches to developing talent in today’s environment. The authors cite that “the old model of employment was a good fit for an era of stability.” Maximizing employee security was a prime company goal. Things have changed, and stability has gone by the wayside. Now, few companies can promise anything close to lifetime employment. This is prompting new ways of approaching the employee-employer relationship. If not job and retirement security, what then can build employee loyalty?

The framework suggested in The Alliance says a relational approach works best. That means basing the employee-employer relationship on trust, with each party clearly communicating how each adds value to the other. Engagement is heightened when managers sincerely demonstrate investment in a person’s development and future – even if it means that future takes them away from their current company.

Some big ideas from *The Alliance*

Tours of Duty

With this concept, employees are offered rotational assignments for a specific period of time. Having a meaty, challenging role is a compelling development opportunity for employees, plus having a determined finish line to the “duty” encourages employees to stick it out and look forward to what’s next for their career and job responsibilities.

Network Intelligence Programs

Encourage employees at all levels to build networks outside the company. Encourage your employees to attend conferences, lunches and networking events. Encourage interactions through social media. Sure, there is a risk your top employees are more discoverable by potential employers if they are on social media. Still, Hoffman, Casnocha and Yeh see upside in connecting with smart people with different perspectives to find serendipitous opportunities. Network intelligence programs can be mined for ways to keep up on industry trends, competitors and for recruiting top talent.

Corporate Alumni Connections

Establish infrastructures for creating mutually beneficial lifelong alliances. Alumni networks that exist today have inherent value. They provide useful information, and they refer customers and future employees. Continuing to foster employee (and past employee) loyalty from the time of an exit interview on is something more and more companies are doing.

The way we work is changing. The big ideas in The Alliance, plus specific how-tos, can help managers adapt and ultimately keep employees engaged and retained. Because good employees will always leave in search of different experiences. There’s a big opportunity for companies who understand this. Motivate employees while they are with you, and then keep them in your ecosystem as lifelong advocates.

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