Why stretch assignments are important to your career
In the most recent blog post, I shared my experience with stretch assignments and tips on how to evaluate each opportunity! In this post, I look forward to sharing the seven (7) key benefits of stretch assignments.
To recap, each opportunity should be evaluated to ensure the engagement is purposeful, goal aligned, and value add. Once you have determined if a particular assignment or opportunity is a good fit, it’s time to get to work. Always work with a spirit of excellence to experience the full benefits of the assignment.
Once you complete the project, it is equally important to assess the impact of the work as well as the personal benefits that you’ve gained. If the experience did not live up to your expectations, or if you received constructive feedback, document the pros and cons. Journal your lessons learned and areas of improvement. This too is valuable information that you can revisit as you navigate your career.
Stretch assignments are typically designed to benefit a team or the company. I believe that we should seek out assignments that are equally beneficial to us. Below are the top 10 benefits of stretch assignments.
New or enhanced skills
Stretch assignments provide a phenomenal opportunity to develop skills. If you are looking to grow in a particular area, I encourage you to take on a shadowing opportunity or stretch assignment. The same is true if you are looking to enhance a skill.
Stretch assignments provide a phenomenal opportunity to develop skills. If you are looking to grow in a particular area, I encourage you to take on a shadowing opportunity or stretch assignment. – Career Mom CommunityTweet
It is also a great way to try out a role or job function that you are interested in. You can try before you commit to it.
Stretch assignments also allow you to leverage skills that your role (ie. your day job) does not leverage. For example, I had the opportunity to assist with planning a conference and it allowed me to tap into my love for planning! I thoroughly enjoyed leading that workstream and the ability to be creative.
As I mentioned in my last post, stretch assignments provide visibility.
Visibility is important to emerging leaders and those looking to get their foot in the door. If you are looking to catch the ear of a leader or hiring manager in another organization, seek out ways in which you can support their initiatives.Debranetta
They also give you an opportunity to network and connect with colleagues you do not normally work with. I have developed some amazing workplace relationships as a result of stretch assignments.
Stretch assignments are real experiences that you can add to your resume. If your career plan includes any sort of pivot, stretch assignments are an important part of your journey. You can leverage special assignments to give you the experience you’ll need for your pivot. If you are transitioning into a new functional area, you can get a jump start and some visibility through these projects.
If you need continuing education hours for certifications, stretch assignments provide an opportunity to get the needed hours for completion.
Step out of your comfort zone
When I think of the word stretch, “to extend” is the first thing that comes to mind. In other words, stretch assignments are a great way for you to extend yourself. Early on in my career, I would take small projects and initiatives to stretch my capacity. I knew that I needed to possess the ability to manage various tasks, metrics, and workflows as I grew in my career. Yes, I’ve always been ambitious but sometimes, I too need a push out of my comfort zone.
I remember my first corporate position, right after undergrad. My manager provided feedback during an annual review. He said, “You’re doing a great job, but I really need you to assert yourself more. You know this stuff”. So, disclaimer, I was young and did not implement right away, but I carried that feedback with me and sought out opportunities in graduate school, such as case competitions, that allowed me to practice in this area.
Bonus Tip: For the moms juggling school. Leverage your school’s programming to take on special projects to reap these benefits!
Fill gaps in your schedule
If your role is going through a transition, offshoring, or anything that would cause excessive downtime, seek stretch assignments to fill the void.
My advice would be to either:
- Select something you enjoy doing to combat boredom
- Select something in a group you can potentially transition into
- Select something that can make a huge impact for both you and the company
Stretch assignments can be enjoyable experiences. Oftentimes, you will get offered assignments based on skills others see in you. The beauty in that is, you will more than likely end up doing something that comes naturally to you and/or something you really enjoy doing.
For example, I was presented an opportunity and the first thing the person said was, “I know you like … so I thought you’d be great for this project”. In the end, it worked out and I did indeed enjoy the experience.
Share a stretch assignment you’ve recently completed and its benefits in the comments.
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