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What’s The Point Of A Tour Of Duty?

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘Tour of Duty’ in a film or associated with the military in some way. But have you heard it in the workplace? It’s now becoming a more commonly used term in business, with the phrase itself referring to a single assignment or period of work.

Welcoming new employees with a Tour of Duty

In essence, a Tour of Duty is your chance to clearly lay out the terms of the next initiative. You can explain what is involved, what the expected outcomes are, and the responsibilities of the individual.

So, you can see how this can apply to a new employee. This is a great way to introduce them to their new role. You can set expectations before they even start the job about what’s involved and how long they might be in that ‘tour’, and you can clearly lay out what will need to happen so that they can keep growing and developing – in effect, laying out a pathway for progression to their next Tour of Duty.

Benefits of a Tour of Duty

Offering your new employee, or existing employees, a Tour of Duty, has several benefits. You can show from the beginning that you have specific expectations of them. You can also show that you have planned out and you’re prepared to invest in their career, too.

Your employee will also feel more confident in understanding their objectives. And, if they can see a pathway to their next tour, they will feel more motivated and more valued.

What’s involved in a Tour of Duty

The idea of a tour picks up on today’s approach to career progression, where very few of us now choose a job for life. In fact, studies show that the average person changes job every 4-5 years.

By offering a tour to a new employee, you’re both making a commitment. ‘Stay with us for four years to do this role, and we will help you to achieve your next progression.’ It shows that you both have plans – one to complete the assignment, the other to provide experience and training that they can take on to their next Tour of Duty.

It also allows a certain level of honesty in the relationship between employer and employee. The employee can openly share what they want to learn from the role, and the employer can agree to providing a certain amount of development.

By opening the conversation at the very start of the new working relationship, you create an open and honest working environment. You both understand how you benefit, if you both put in the time and effort agreed to make the tour a success.

Setting up a Tour of Duty

Of course, that isn’t to say that as a business you must deliver training or other benefits that are out of scope for your industry. You cannot just support their every dream. But starting their role by understanding what their career goals are means you can clearly lay out what you offer that will benefit them.

So, starting a Tour of Duty with a new employee means getting into a real conversation from the very beginning. Take time to find out what motivates them, and what their aspirations are. It may be that career progression isn’t what they want – perhaps it’s flexibility or some other goal. By opening with that conversation, you’ll build trust and cooperation right away.

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