The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age | Study Guide

Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh

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The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age | Summary



The Alliance

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age is a guidebook for employers, managers, and employees who wish to break away from the antiquated model of lifelong employment, which was at its height between the 1950s and 70s. Back then, most employees (and their employers) assumed they would work for one company for their entire career, essentially agreeing to company loyalty for a steady paycheck. According to authors Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh, this type of employer-employee relationship is more than unequal—it's now based on lies. As the 1980s proved, employers often care more about profits than the people whom they employ. When profits go down, employees are laid off with little to show for their years of service.

Hoffman, Casnocha, and Yeh endorse a different kind of employer-employee relationship. Referred to as the alliance, this mutually beneficial partnership has three components: tours of duty, employee networks, and corporate alumni relations.

Tours of Duty

The tour-of-duty framework is arguably the most important part of the alliance. Both employer and employee identify their goals and determine where they overlap. They then construct a "tour," or finite term of employment, that helps them both grow. Tours can be introductory level or generic (Rotational), focused on a specific goal or outcome (Transactional), or lifelong (Foundational). As the employee's tour winds down, the employer and employee assess whether they want to continue to work together or go their separate ways. If they choose to continue, a new tour with new objectives is established. If they decide to part ways, the employer assists in helping the employee find their next venture, and they part on good terms.


For the authors, encouraging professional growth and business connections outweighs the risk of employees being lured away to other companies. When employers invest in employees, be it through training or helping them achieve a career goal, they are more likely to stay with the company than if the company demands blind loyalty. Employers benefit from an employee's success. They also benefit from employees' professional connections. At LinkedIn and several other Silicon Valley companies, employees of all levels are encouraged to engage in networking activities, such as lunches and conferences. Often they are reimbursed for doing so. As employees form relationships outside their company, they are also gathering industry and competitor information. This information benefits both the employer and the employee.

Employer and employee also benefit from a continued relationship when employment ends. Hoffman, Casnocha, and Yeh recommend employers maintain positive relationships with their former employees, who are excellent sources for recruitment, business leads, and outsider information. The best way to maintain these relationships is by supporting existing employee alumni networks or starting new ones. Even small investments in alumni relations net big returns.

The Alliance concludes with three appendices. The first offers a sample statement of alliance for an employee's tour of duty. The second provides an alignment exercise, and the third prompts readers to visit the book's website and LinkedIn page for more ideas and information.

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