Dan Lyons’ op/ed in the New York Times last week misrepresented The Alliance in a big way. His op/ed was promoting his new book, which bashes HubSpot, a company he worked at for a couple years. In his book, there is a brief but even more distorted description of the tour of duty framework. Reid, Chris, and I wrote a response to correct the record, and we published it on Chris’s LinkedIn page. Excerpt:
The Alliance is an attempt to find a better way for companies and employees to relate to each other. Specifically, we suggest companies and employees build trust incrementally and choreograph increasing levels of mutual commitment by defining “Tours of Duty.” A tour of duty, which might last anywhere from six months to six years depending on its mission, ought to spell out what an employee is trying to accomplish, how achieving it benefits the company, and how that achievement accelerates the employee’s career. As a tour of duty draws to a close, the manager and employee meet to discuss a follow-up tour. By giving employees a clear sense of career development, we’ve found that companies that adopt the Alliance Framework improve employee retention and lengthen job tenures. Loyalty builds over time, as both sides make and keep their mutual promises to invest in each other.
In his book, Dan writes, “Hoffman says employees should think of a job as a ‘tour of duty’ and not expect to stay for too long.” In fact, in The Alliance, we write at length about the perils of short termism. We tell the story of an employee who worked at one company (LinkedIn) for nine years and completed three distinct tours, and conclude: “This seeming contradiction— regularly changing roles in the context of a long-term relationship— is the essence of the tour of duty framework.”
At the heart of our framework is the importance of building high-trust relationships. In The Alliance, we write, “Our goal is to provide a framework for moving from a transactional to a relational approach…By building a mutually beneficial alliance rather than simply exchanging money for time, employer and employee can invest in the relationship and take the risks necessary to pursue bigger payoffs.” Here’s how Dan describes our framework: “In [Hoffman’s] view, a job is a transaction, one in which an employee provides a service, gets paid, and moves on.” It makes you wonder whether he actually read our book!