Entrepreneur Ben Casnocha, author of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age explains that versatility and an adaptive mindset can set you apart because taking risks is integral to 21st century success. Companies want employees who are able to roll with the punches and won’t be afraid to stick their neck out.
Today in an economy that’s marked with technological change and globalization and heightened competition, uncertainty, companies recognize that they really need to be adaptive. And in order to successfully adapt their organizations, they need to be able to recruit, manage, and retain people who themselves are adaptive, people who themselves are entrepreneurial, able to take risk. Really, what organizations do to attract these sorts of entrepreneurial people is they deliver a value proposition that resonates with ambitious talent. And the way we distill that value proposition is in the word transformation. Amazing, ambitious, talented, entrepreneurial employees seek the opportunity to transform themselves, their organization, and the world at large. They want to know that by working at your company they will have the opportunity to acquire skills, develop experiences, grow their network, and in general make their LinkedIn profile look more impressive. They want to be on the winning teams within the company. And they want to know that they’re not just going to be shuffling papers, but really have the opportunity to transform the company’s trajectory.
In the modern world lifetime employment is over. It’s just not the case that great people want to spend 50 straight years working for the same organization. And it’s highly unlikely that the same organization will need that particular type of person and that particular personality and skill set for the rest of time. Far better to be open and honest on day one. Far better to have what we call an alliance conversation whereby the manager sits down with the employee and says: “What I do want you to do is to be able to commit to me ethically that you’ll stick around for a meaningful period of time, for what we call a tour of duty, and do real work at this organization that helps transform the company. And as your ally, I will make sure that over the course of that tour of duty I will invest in you. And that by you staying for that meaningful, but realistic period of time you will experience career growth. You will develop skills that matter in the market. You will grow your network.” That’s what the alliance is all about. Mutual investment and mutual benefit. Both sides get ahead if both sides can trust each other enough to invest in each other for a realistic period of time. That’s how you maximize employee engagement. And at the end of the tour of duty, maybe it makes sense for the employee to leave the company and move on or maybe it makes sense for the employee to do another tour of duty. And so I think that’s what the modern dynamic around employee engagement and retention looks like. It’s realism, but it’s with an emphasis on an alliance and mutual benefit in order to effectively engage and retain great people for realistic periods of time.