Recently I read The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age. Although I think the authors took a few too many chapters to explain their thoughts, I really did like the concept they titled “Tours of Duty.” A Tour of Duty is simply a formal or informal arrangement between an employee and employer. This arrangement defines the parameters of a work assignment that the employee will take on that will both develop their career and advance the company at the same time.
This is not a new concept by any means. It has existed in the military world for eons and I was introduced to it when I started in business back in the early 90’s. Essentially, it is an assignment with a defined term, expected personal development outcomes, and expected business outcomes. The employee is motivated to successfully execute the Tour of Duty so they can be promoted or get moved to a choice assignment, etc. (as defined by the agreement with their employer).. The business benefits because the employee is completely engaged in the process and is typically adding significant value to the business.
The authors of The Alliance specify three types of Tours of Duty