Stretch Assignments- Springboarding Your Career to New Heights

What are they?
Stretch assignments are projects that employees participate in, in addition to their traditional job duties. These assignments offer an opportunity for individuals to step outside their comfort zone and grow their skillset.
How do they provide opportunities for career growth?
Stretch assignments offer opportunities to take on additional projects/responsibilities and grow professionally without a permanent commitment. This means that employees who take on stretch assignments are not tied to the additional commitment forever and can actually increase job satisfaction for high performers whose sweet spot for success is a 50-70% chance of success1. According to Forbes, a stretch assignment is one that, “requires you to step outside of your day-to-day responsibilities and take on a challenging new task, project or role. You’ll develop new networks, knowledge and skill sets. These are often very visible roles, so the stakes can be high. In fact, a well-executed stretch assignment can propel your career to new heights”2.
Where do I look for stretch assignments?
Look for projects that leaders might not have the bandwidth or resources to tackle themselves. There might be important projects that leaders feel would add value to the organization, but they simply do not have the manpower or time to do it themselves. Alternatively, it can be as straightforward as volunteering to mentor an employee.
4 tips for success

  1.  Don’t assume you know everything. Stretch assignments are meant to provide an opportunity for growth. If you are not asking questions and approaching the opportunity from a learning standpoint, you can miss the opportunity to learn and expand your skillsets.
  2. Ask questions. Stretch assignments take you out of your comfort zone which means you are not expected to have all the answers. It is a great opportunity to ask questions that you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to. Additionally, stretch assignments provide opportunities to speak with people outside of your organization who are experts in the area and in turn expand your network in the process.
  3. Go above and beyond. Stretch assignments are meant to provide an opportunity for good employees to grow their skillsets in a way that allows them to become great. And while this doesn’t happen overnight, when given the opportunity it is important to show your commitment to your organization by delivering on your normal responsibilities and going above and beyond for stretch assignments.
  4. Use this as a stepping stone to achieve your career goals. After all, stretch assignments are designed to help you grow professionally. One way to do this is to keep an eye out for assignments in an area that you feel would allow you to expand either your clinical skillset or leadership skills and function as a springboard to taking the next step in your career.

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For additional blogs you might be interested in:

 1https://hbr.org/2012/03/position-yourself-for-a-stretc
2https://www.forbes.com/sites/jomiller/2017/12/16/4-ways-to-execute-a-stretch-assignment-like-a-rock-star/#211841d96f6a

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