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Why You Should Take on More Stretch Assignments

  • Jahna Berry

stretch assignment português

Research shows the stakes are higher for marginalized communities, but the opportunity is usually worth it.

Stretch projects require skills or knowledge beyond your current level of development and are great opportunities to shine in a new arena. This is also why they can feel so scary, especially for workers at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, or other dimensions of diversity. Research shows us that women, people of color, and members of the queer community are punished more heavily when they make mistakes. As a result, you may feel pressure to perform perfectly, and be less averse to taking on the risk of a stretch assignment. The good news is that handling this kind of unfamiliar work is a skill that you can learn and refine — and it’s a great way to advance your career. Here’s how to get started.

  • Shift your negative self-talk. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt, pause, and take some time to reflect. Write down all of the times that you tried something new and figured it out. This will give your mind the “evidence” it needs to prove that you’re capable of taking on challenges.
  • Get clarity. At the very start of your project, seek to gain clarity around your manager’s expectations, important deadlines, specific goals you need to hit within those time frames, and any important stakeholders you need to keep in the loop along the way.
  • Do a listening tour. Schedule meetings with each of the key stakeholders your manager named. When reaching out, explain the project you’re leading and what information you want to learn from them. Use your meeting to do three things: communicate transparently that you are not an expert in the area yet, show sincerity that you are interested in learning more about it, and give the people who are experts a chance to showcase what they know.
  • Trust your gut. Don’t let your fear of failing overcome your intuition. Write down all of the times you had a hunch to do something, but against your better judgment, you didn’t do it. In the end, if you found yourself saying “I knew better,” that initial hunch was your intuition. Remember this feeling, and trust it the next time it comes around.

You raised your hand for a stretch project, and — congratulations! — you’ve bagged the assignment. As an emerging leader, you were hoping to show your drive and ambition, but now that you have the opportunity, you’re terrified.

  • JB Jahna Berry is an award-winning journalist and has written about leadership for Mother Jones and OpenNews. She  was a featured speaker at events for the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists, WIRED, University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, and the News Product Alliance. She is the Chief Operating Officer at Mother Jones.

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Embracing Learning through Stretch Assignments: A Guide to Success

Stretch Assignments, Upskilling, Leadership Development

Industries now evolve 5 times faster than 5 years ago. With unrelenting change, adaptability is essential. McKinsey ( 2019) finds leaders exposed to 5+ functions and 3+ countries become 69% more change-ready. Harvard Business Review (2020) analysis shows broad experiences expand perspectives to envision transformation. Further studies show experiential learning opportunities directly enable greater agility—employees with wider skillsets adjust up to 40% quicker to disruptions.

This blog explores how "stretch assignments" and experiential learning are not just beneficial but essential for thriving in such a fast-paced environment. We delve into the intricacies of implementing successful stretch assignments and how they can be a key to not only surviving but excelling in today's ever-changing work world.

Stretch assignments are developmental projects that push people beyond their comfort zones. By tackling unfamiliar responsibilities, employees expand their skill sets and perspectives.

Stretch assignments are impactful for several reasons. They provide real-world practice, enhance problem-solving abilities, build resilience, boost engagement, and promote leadership skills. With continuous feedback and learning, employees progress in their careers and become better equipped to drive innovation.

9 key experiences that you should consider as stretch assignments:

Operational Delivery : Leading a project to enhance the efficiency of a critical production process.

Unfamiliar Environment : Taking a short-term role in a different department or geographical location.

People Management : Managing a cross-functional team on a high-profile project.

Global Remit : Overseeing a project with team members from multiple international offices.

Change Management : Leading an initiative to implement a new organisational structure.

Growth:  Developing and executing a plan to enter a new market.

Start-up:  Launching a new product line or service from scratch.

Turnaround : Revitalizing a struggling business unit or product.

Special Project : Managing a corporate social responsibility project with high visibility.

If you want to learn more about these key experiences, download our 9 Key Experiences to Develop Future-ready Leaders Handbook. Click here to download

The effectiveness of 'learning by doing' through stretch assignments critically depends on addressing 4 specific elements essential for success. This comprehensive guide explores these four elements, offering insights and practical strategies to maximise the benefits of learning through stretch assignments.

Element 1: Overcoming Organisational Resistance to Experiential Learning

One significant obstacle in implementing stretch assignments is overcoming organisational resistance to experiential learning. This resistance often stems from a lack of understanding of the practical benefits of 'learning by doing,' apprehension about the outcomes, or a preference for more traditional, structured learning methods such as classroom-based or e-learning modules. Overcoming resistance to stretch assignments requires a proactive and positive approach that emphasises educating and showcasing their tangible advantages, which can be achieved through securing management buy-in, effective internal communication of successes, and positioning HR as a facilitator of experiential learning opportunities:

Management Buy-In : Securing the active endorsement and support of top management for stretch assignments is essential. When leaders share their personal experiences with stretch assignments, they highlight their value in personal and organisational growth, effectively linking development with success.

Effective Internal Communication : Consistent communication about the successes and benefits of stretch assignments is critical. Showcasing stories of employee growth and their contributions to organisational objectives can help create a positive outlook towards experiential learning.

HR's Role in Facilitating Experiential Learning : The Human Resources department should be at the forefront of creating and implementing frameworks for experiential learning opportunities. Organising focus groups with senior leaders to discuss and share their experiences with major projects and stretch assignments not only reinforces the value of experiential learning but also serves as a powerful reminder of its effectiveness to the leadership team.

Element 2: Securing the Right Stretch Role

In the second element of our exploration into stretch assignments, we focus on the critical factors of ensuring that the stretch role that has been selected for an employee is right. This involves careful consideration of several key criteria, including aligning the role with both the individual's career path and the organisation's objectives, determining the optimal level of challenge to encourage growth without overwhelming, and clearly defining role objectives and expectations. By paying close attention to these factors, we can significantly enhance the effectiveness and impact of stretch assignments in employee development. It’s important to set employees up for success.

Let's delve into these critical success factors in more detail.

Firstly, Strategic Alignment: It is crucial to select stretch roles that align with the employee's career trajectory while contributing significantly to the organisation's objectives. This approach ensures the unlocking of potential with precision. When both individual and organisational goals are aligned to the stretch role, both the individual and the organisation are going to care more about making the assignment a success. 

Secondly, Optimal Challenge Level: The role should present an appropriate level of challenge, promoting autonomy and decision-making in employees. This balance fosters innovation and growth while ensuring the role remains achievable and the employee is not overstretched.

To determine if a role offers the right level of stretch, consider these aspects:

Employee’s Reaction and Confidence Level :

Observe the employee's initial reaction to the assignment. Signs of excessive anxiety or doubt may suggest the role is too challenging. In contrast, if they seem too comfortable or unchallenged, the role may not be challenging enough. The ideal stretch induces cautious optimism and an eagerness to embrace the challenge.

Past Performance and Learning Curve : Evaluate the employee’s historical performance and adaptability in similar contexts. If they have consistently managed slightly challenging tasks well, a more demanding assignment could be appropriate. On the other hand, if they have struggled with moderate challenges before, a more modest assignment would be advisable. The role should encourage them to utilise and expand upon their existing skills and knowledge.

Time and Effort Estimation : Assess the required time and effort for the assignment relative to the employee's current workload and abilities. A suitably challenging assignment should necessitate a substantial, yet manageable, increase in effort and time beyond their usual responsibilities. If the role demands an inordinate amount of time or effort well beyond the scope of their current position, it may be excessively challenging.

The final factor in securing the right role is Role Clarity: It is essential to clearly define the objectives and expectations of the stretch role. Regular check-ins and documented goals are vital for maintaining alignment and clarity, particularly in roles that are new or involve novel challenges. For those in the earlier stages of their career, roles with well-defined parameters often prove more successful as stretch assignments.

Element 3: Preparing the Employee for the Stretch Role

This third section is focused on providing employees with the essential preparation and support they need to successfully navigate and thrive in their stretch roles. The right preparation and support are crucial in ensuring the employee is not only ready but also set up for success in their stretch role. 

First, start with a skills assessment. Conducting a skills assessment is vital because it helps to identify the specific competencies an employee currently possesses and the areas where they may need further development. This assessment ensures that the employee is placed in a stretch role that is challenging yet achievable, aligning with their existing skills and potential for growth. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, the assignment can be tailored to maximise learning and minimise the risk of failure, making the experience both developmental and beneficial for the individual and the organisation.

For high-stretch roles, it pays off to assess additional aspects to ensure the role is both safe and developmental. This can be done through a semi-structured interview. 

Additional aspects to assess include:

Assess the candidate's ability to adapt to new situations and learn quickly from experiences

Consider their level of emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, empathy, and ability to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically

Gauge their tolerance for ambiguity and change and their resilience in the face of challenges

Review their past performances, especially in challenging situations, to predict future potential and development areas

Understand their career goals and motivation to ensure alignment with the objectives of the stretch assignment

Secondly, providing comprehensive and balanced support with realistic goals is crucial in the preparation for a stretch role. This involves offering robust mentorship and guidance to help employees navigate new challenges they might encounter. Furthermore, it's important to set achievable, clearly defined goals that are in alignment with the employee's capabilities and the objectives of the stretch role.

Regular and constructive feedback is essential to aid in their development and to adjust goals as necessary. Encouraging a work-life balance is also key, especially considering the extra effort and time that a stretch role might require; this can be supported through flexible working conditions. Additionally, ensuring that employees have access to the necessary resources and training to develop skills and address knowledge gaps identified in the assessment is vital for their success and growth in the new role.

Finally, creating a safe-to-fail environment : Cultivate a culture where failure is viewed as a stepping stone to learning. Emotional support and recognition of efforts, irrespective of outcomes, are essential. Not every stretch project goes as well as expected, sometimes not through the fault of the employee but because the role has changed. 

Here are our top quick tips for creating a ‘safe to fail environment’ 

Have leaders publicly discuss their own early failures and career detours. Vulnerability from the top makes it psychologically safer.

Separate performance reviews from assignment-based development initiatives. Ensure stretch projects are evaluated independently from day-to-day job effectiveness.

Set explicit expectations that stretch initiatives likely only have a 60% probability of fully realizing the original intent. Frame them as learning journeys.

Build slack time into participant schedules - roughly 20% - for reflection and application of learning during experimental projects.

Establish formal mentorship check-ins for talent in stretch roles to discuss learnings separate from line managers.

Publicly celebrate examples of teams pivoting ambitious initiatives due to external variables rather than viewing them as failures.

Element 4: Recognising and Advancing Career through Stretch Assignments

The recognition of the efforts and learning gained from stretch assignments is vital in ensuring they are seen as valuable experiences. And so is the need to continue an employee’s development journey after the completion of the stretch assignment. 

Continuing an employee's development following a stretch assignment is crucial for several reasons. 

First, it maintains employee engagement by acknowledging and rewarding the extra effort and risks undertaken during the assignment. This recognition helps employees see the tangible benefits of their hard work.

Secondly, ongoing development is key to retaining talent. Without meaningful opportunities for further growth or new challenges post-assignment, employees, particularly those with high potential, might feel undervalued and consider leaving the organisation. This could lead to a loss of critical talent.

Furthermore, it's important for other employees and line managers in the organisation to see the value of taking developmental risks. When they observe that personal and professional growth leads to positive outcomes, it encourages a culture of development and risk-taking for the greater good of the organisation.

Finally, post-assignment development helps in leveraging the investment made in an employee's growth during the stretch assignment. Stretch assignments inherently involve risks, including the possibility of personal or organisational setbacks. However, when employees successfully navigate these challenges, they emerge with enhanced skills and experience. Effectively utilizing these new competencies not only benefits the individual but also contributes significantly to the organisation's growth and success.

At the end of a stretch assignment, it is vital, as a first step, to update the employee’s personal development plan to address outstanding development areas and to capture future career aspirations. This must include inclusion in succession planning to understand and prepare for future roles and responsibilities. As a next step, consideration must be given to the person’s next role. There may not always be the right follow-on role available for an employee who has completed a stretch assignment, however, there are other ways to keep them learning and to harness their new skills and experiences. 

Three ways to continue the development journey in the absence of an immediately suitable role:

Follow-Up Projects: Engage in subsequent projects that build on the skills and experiences gained. This can include cross-functional collaboration working on diverse projects to apply skills in different contexts.

Mentorship or Coaching: Work with a mentor or coach to actively work on any remaining development areas to smooth the way to a new role or promotion.

Networking: Actively facilitate networking with senior stakeholders to open doors to new roles and opportunities. This may include regular meetings with senior leaders or participation in senior leadership meetings. 

When effectively executed and supported, stretch assignments can serve as a catalyst for substantial growth, both for the individual and the organisation. The four essential elements to consider are embracing organisational change, selecting the appropriate stretch role, effectively preparing the employee, and acknowledging their efforts and the insights gained. This comprehensive approach maximises the benefits of learning through stretch assignments. It not only encourages personal development but also contributes to the overall success of the organisation, fostering an environment where continuous learning and adaptability are key.

Having explored the impactful nature of stretch assignments and the strategies for their successful implementation, it's vital to take the next step in advancing your leadership development. To deepen your understanding and enhance your capabilities, we encourage you to download our in-depth guide, '9 Key Experiences to Develop Future-Ready Leaders'.

Download your free copy now 

Not sure which key experience to dive into? Let fate decide! Spin the roulette and embrace the challenge that lands your way. It's a fun, exciting, and somewhat mysterious way to discover what your career might be missing.

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HR Mavericks

Stretch Assignment

Brandi M Fannell, Ph.D.

What Are Stretch Assignments?

Why are stretch assignments beneficial.

  • Catalyzes growth. These dynamic projects or tasks are designed to propel employees out of their comfort zones and catapult them into the realm of professional growth. By taking on unfamiliar responsibilities, employees are exposed to fresh challenges and opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge. It's like strapping a rocket to their career trajectory.
  • Supercharges engagement and motivation. We all know that engaged employees are the heart and soul of any thriving organization. Stretch assignments inject a much-needed dose of excitement and purpose into the work lives of your employees. By entrusting them with challenging projects, you're sending a clear message: We believe in you. Their commitment, initiative, and creativity skyrocket, resulting in a turbocharged organization firing on all cylinders.
  • Builds confidence and resilience. Stretch assignments give employees the perfect training ground for building confidence and resilience. As they conquer challenges and complete demanding projects, their sense of accomplishment skyrockets, boosting confidence levels and fueling a can-do attitude. Plus, the resilience developed through stretch assignments equips employees to navigate change and uncertainty with ease, making them valuable assets to your organization.

Types of Stretch Assignments

The skill-building extravaganza, the cross-functional adventure, the project of epic proportions, the innovation challenge, the client-facing expedition, how to implement stretch assignments in the workplace, step 1: align assignments with development goals, step 2: provide support and resources, step 3: set clear objectives and expectations, step 4: recognize and celebrate achievements, challenges associated with stretch assignments, challenge 1: the comfort zone conundrum.

  • Understand the employee's perspective. Recognize that employees may be hesitant to take on stretch assignments due to various reasons such as fear of failure, lack of confidence, or concerns about work-life balance. Take the time to listen and understand their concerns before addressing them.
  • Communicate the value . Clearly explain how the assignment can enhance their skill or broaden their experience and highlight the positive impact it can have on their career trajectory.
  • Provide support and resources. Assure employees that they will receive the necessary support, guidance, and resources to succeed in the stretch assignment. Offer training, mentorship, and coaching to help them build the skills and confidence required for the task. Reassure them that you are invested in their success.
  • Set realistic expectations .Ensure that employees understand the expectations and scope of the stretch assignment. Clearly define the goals, deliverables, and timelines involved. Break down the assignment into manageable steps and provide a roadmap for success. This will help alleviate concerns and make the assignment less daunting.

Challenge 2: Time and Resource Crunch

Challenge 3: skills gaps, challenge 4: balancing act, challenge 5: ensuring equity, evaluation and reflection, assess progress and outcomes, support reflection, refine and improve.

Brandi M Fannell, Ph.D.

Brandi M Fannell, Ph.D.


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Stretch Assignments: What Are They and Is Your Employee Ready For One?

Picture of Michelle Bennett

Stretch assignments are a cornerstone of a strong employee development plan. A statement that is backed by a number of research studies. In one conducted by the Harvard Business Review of 823 executives, it was found that 71% of respondents said stretch assignments had the biggest impact on unleashing their potential. In another, this one conducted by Korn Ferry , stretch assignments were named the most valuable developmental experience, ahead of things like mentoring, classroom training, 360-degree assessments, and even exposure to senior leaders.

An intentional and strategic stretch assignment can go a long way in accelerating an employee’s development or supporting the trajectory of their career at your organization, though their success relies heavily on the one assigning the task - their leader.

In the following article, you will learn more about what stretch assignments are, what they are not, how to tell when an employee is ready for one, and more. Let’s begin.

What are Stretch Assignments?

While there are countless ways to define a stretch assignment, the following definition from BeLeaderly perfectly sums it up for the purposes of this article: “Stretch assignments are temporary, internal learning gigs that simultaneously offer an employee a chance to develop new skills while helping the organization solve a real business problem.”

Most commonly, stretch assignments are implemented to prepare an employee for an upcoming promotion, engage a high-performing employee, encourage skill development, or evaluate an employee’s level of interest or aptitude for another role.

As the name implies, stretch assignments mean they “stretch” or challenge an employee to think and act outside their comfort zone or day-to-day job. But what exactly makes a stretch assignment challenging ?

  • It presents employees with an unfamiliar challenge
  • It challenges an employee to create change
  • It gives an employee a high level of responsibility
  • It challenges an employee to work cross-functionally

At this point, it is important to define what stretch assignments are not. Stretch assignments are not a chance for you to hand off work you do not want to do. They should also not be what Korn Ferry calls “glass-cliff projects.” According to them, “stretch assignments and glass-cliff projects both involve some risk and often include crisis situations, but one is about building your skills and the other is about proving your worth, despite your many successes. One is encouraging; the other is an affront.”

Are you struggling to decide what to delegate and whom to delegate to? If so,  this guide will help!

4 Signs Your Employee Is Ready For a Stretch Assignment

Of course, there is a fine line between “stretching” or challenging an employee and overwhelming them. To help you distinguish if an employee is ready for and can handle a stretch assignment or not, here are a few key things to consider: 

  • Their Track Record An employee who is ready for a stretch assignment and can handle it will not only have a history of successful projects and good performance, but will have a track record of asking for help when they need it, respecting boundaries, proactively seeking learning opportunities, and taking accountability for their actions (whether good or bad). These behaviors show a level of discretion that is imperative to the success of a stretch assignment, where an employee is outside of their comfort zone.
  • Their Engagement According to Gallup , “engaged employees are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They are psychological ‘owners,’ drive high performance and innovation, and move the organization forward.” Whereas, “actively disengaged employees aren't just unhappy at work - they are resentful that their needs aren't being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.” Fortunately, stretch assignments are an ideal chance to further engage already engaged employees and those bordering on disengaged. You should be quite certain that the individual you will give the assignment to will see it as a positive opportunity and be willing to do their best work, not just because they have to, but because they want to.

An employee who has been given a stretch assignment is going to need your support more so than they would for their everyday job. Therefore, before you give a stretch assignment, be sure you have the availability and capacity to proactively support your employee from start to finish. 

  • Your Relationship Given the nature of stretch assignments, there is always a risk of failure and for some employees, failure is hard to handle even if it is a valuable learning experience. That is why it is so important to have a relationship built on trust before delegating a stretch assignment. Your employee needs to feel comfortable sharing their challenges and questions without fear of judgment, or else they might try to “go at it alone,” which is ultimately where people get themselves into trouble.

2 Major Things to Be Aware of With Stretch Assignments

  • Stretch Assignments Should Not Impede An Employee’s Day-to-Day Job As a leader, you need to closely monitor the progress of a stretch assignment, the well-being of your employee, and the health of their day-to-day roles and responsibilities. If your employee is suddenly working an exorbitant amount or is showing signs of burnout , then you need to be prepared to step in. While the stretch assignment is important, it should not put your employee's core roles and responsibilities , not to mention their wellbeing, at risk. If this becomes an issue, use it as a learning opportunity to help the employee identify their signs of burnout and set boundaries .
  • Stretch Assignments Need to be Fairly Distributed The unfortunate reality is stretch assignments are not always fairly distributed and accessible to all employees. This was highlighted in a study from BeLeaderly , which found that “women are less likely than men to receive challenging stretch assignments.” The report noted that “when stretch assignments are unclear, unadvertised, and unevenly offered, it makes women hesitate even more to pursue them. On the other hand, taking an open, equitable approach to stretch opportunities can create a thriving internal gig economy - one that’s accessible to all. This not only helps employees advance in the short term, but it can also set the course for diversifying, and therefore strengthening, your leadership ranks in the long term.” So, how can you ensure the distribution of stretch assignments is fair? According to a report by Catalyst , they recommend leaders link the distribution of stretch assignments to performance reviews, review the allocation of stretch assignments to ensure equitable distribution among women and equity-seeking groups, as well as consider providing new hires with a stretch assignment or assigning new hires to a team working on a stretch assignment. 

Employees who are given a stretch assignment will require more support, guidance, and encouragement than an average employee. Though the effort is well worth it as stretch assignments contribute to employee engagement, morale, satisfaction, productivity, and success, which in turn contributes to your success as their leader. It’s a win-win!

The Guide to Delegation for Leaders

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The power and purpose of stretch assignments in career advancement

January 19, 2024

stretch assignment português

What are stretch assignments?

Stuck in a career rut? Feel ready to push boundaries and expand your skill set? Or do you feel ready for more and need the right opportunity to prove it? Enter stretch assignments: challenging projects to propel individuals beyond their comfort zones and ignite career growth. They are professional boot camps offering opportunities to lead cross-functional teams, tackle complex problems, or master entirely new skills.

These aren't just resume fillers; they're springboards to professional advancement. Discover hidden talents, impress key stakeholders, and watch your career ascend. Embrace the learning curve, the inevitable stumbles, and the thrill of overcoming them. It's an investment in your professional future, with the potential to unlock your full potential and take your career to the next level.

Ready to dive deeper? This article will guide you to identify the perfect stretch assignments for you, navigate their challenges with poise, and leverage them for maximum career impact:

  • The power of stretch assignments: How they can help you get ahead in your career

The purpose of stretch assignments: How employers can use it to discover employee potential

Navigating the challenges of stretch assignments, fast-track your career with airswift, the power of stretch assignments : how they can help you get ahead in your career.

The power of stretch assignments lies in their ability to propel individuals beyond their comfort zones, acting as catalysts for continuous learning and growth.

These challenging projects develop new skills, boost confidence, enhance visibility, and open doors to unexpected career paths, ultimately shaping a dynamic and resilient professional journey.

Developing new skills and expertise

Learning new things is crucial for professional growth, and stretch assignments are like rocket fuel. These challenging tasks push you outside your comfort zone, forcing you to break free from your usual routine and pick up new skills.

Whether mastering a new software tool, leading a team on a project, or honing your communication skills, stretch assignments make you a more well-rounded professional.

Imagine an IT pro tackling a complex project with a diverse team. They conquer the technical aspects and learn essential project management skills like planning, budgeting, and delegation.

This experience broadens their skills, making them adaptable and ready for any challenge. By the end, they're not just technical whizzes but a well-equipped leader.

The benefits go beyond the individual. When employees learn and grow, the whole organisation thrives. A dynamic workforce with diverse skills and fresh perspectives sparks innovation and continuous improvement.

Those who embrace stretch assignments become valuable assets, bringing new ideas and approaches. This collective growth makes the organisation agile and competitive, able to navigate the ever-changing professional landscape.

Graphic with the quote: Stepping outside your comfort zone is how you truly grow. Stretch assignments are challenges disguised as opportunities for learning, self-discovery, and exceeding your own expectations." - Simon Sinek, Author of "Start with Why

Boosting confidence and growth mindset

Tackling challenging tasks is like dipping your toes into a chilly pool – it might be scary at first, but it can feel amazing on the other side. Stretch assignments are challenging projects that push you beyond your usual routine and comfort zone. But here's the thing: they're also powerful tools for building confidence and a growth mindset.

Imagine conquering a complex project you initially felt unsure about. That triumphant feeling? That's the confidence blooming! It's not just about mastering new skills for that specific project; it's about realising you can tackle anything you want.

Overcoming hurdles builds resilience and leaves you feeling like you can take on anything the professional world throws your way.

Stretch assignments are like personal cheerleaders for this way of thinking. They encourage you to see challenges as chances to learn and grow instead of walls to block progress.

Your talent and skills matter, sure, but renowned psychologist Carol Dweck says it's your approach that makes the difference. By embracing this, you will take a major step towards conquering career obstacles such as impostor syndrome .

So, always remember, with this combination of stretch assignments and a growth mindset, you're not just getting skilled up. You're developing a "can-do" attitude that keeps you learning and adapting.

Enhancing visibility and reputation

Taking on a challenging project at work can feel like stepping into the spotlight. Stretch assignments, often involving high-impact tasks or leadership roles, are your chance to show off your skills and make a big impression.

Imagine a marketing whiz leading a complex campaign. Everyone sees their talent in action as they navigate deadlines, budgets, and creative hurdles. Their success doesn't just boost their confidence; it gets noticed by colleagues, bosses, and even other departments. This "buzz" about their abilities opens doors to exciting opportunities: promotions, invitations to key meetings, you name it.

The more individuals tackle tough assignments and deliver results, the more they're seen as competent and proactive. This builds a strong reputation and paves the way for a brighter future within the company.

Completing a stretch assignment isn't just about learning new skills. It's about showcasing your potential and launching yourself towards the next level.

Discovering new career paths

Think of stretch assignments as stepping stones leading beyond your usual work routine. They're your chance to explore different corners of your field, like trying on different shoes to see which fit best. Working on cross-functional projects or tackling tasks outside your comfort zone gives you a taste of what different roles involve.

Imagine an engineer on a cross-functional project suddenly fascinated by product development. Who knew they had a hidden passion for turning ideas into things? This newfound exposure broadens their skills and opens their eyes to exciting career paths they have never considered before.

These discoveries can lead to some amazing things. Our engineer fired up about product development, might start seeking out roles that let them build and craft things. They might seek promotions, ask for projects that align with their new interest, or even create initiatives that blend their existing skills with their newfound passion.

Stretch assignments don't just expand your skillset; they can be the spark that ignites your career and leads you to something you truly love.

Businesses in today's dynamic landscape understand that their greatest asset is their products and their people. To nurture talent, unlock hidden potential, and build a workforce equipped for the future, forward-thinking employers are turning to a powerful tool: stretch assignments.

The purpose of stretch assignments is to transform employees into well-rounded professionals by immersing them in challenging tasks and fostering continuous learning, innovation, and leadership readiness—ultimately creating a workforce that is adaptable, creative, and prepared for the dynamic demands of the business world.

Let's delve deeper into how stretch assignments serve this critical purpose, transforming individuals and fuelling organisational success:

Investing in employee development

Smart companies know their greatest asset is their people. That's why they invest in stretch assignments – challenging tasks that push employees outside their comfort zones. It's like giving them a mini adventure to explore new skills and areas of their work.

Why? Because continuous learning and development are crucial for both the employee and the company. Employees who tackle tough challenges build new skills, gain confidence, and discover hidden talents. This makes them more adaptable and ready for anything the business world throws their way.

Graphic of a quote: The fastest way to get noticed and move up the ladder is to take on challenges beyond your current role. Stretch assignments make you stand out as someone who is proactive, capable, and ready for more." - Lori Loughlin, Founder of The Mentor Network

For the company, it's like building a stronger team. A diverse skillset across the board means the whole company is more flexible and able to handle change. It sparks creativity and innovation, helping them stay ahead of the competition in this fast-paced world.

Take companies like Google and IBM . They're champions of stretch assignments, and it shows. Their employees get to work on exciting projects, develop new skills, and explore different corners of their roles.

This makes them happier and more engaged and builds a culture of learning and adaptability that keeps the company thriving.

Fostering innovation and creativity

Stepping outside your comfort zone can feel scary, but it can also be incredibly creative. This is precisely what stretch assignments are about – pushing you to tackle new challenges and think outside the box.

Your brain must flex its creative muscles when you're not stuck in the usual routine. You start seeing problems from different angles and coming up with fresh solutions. Imagine a tech company bringing designers, engineers, and marketers together for a cross-functional project.

Suddenly, ideas are bouncing around like ping-pong balls! This clash of perspectives often leads to groundbreaking inventions, like a new gadget you never even knew you needed.

Hence, stretch assignments aren't just about learning new skills and sparking innovation. They create an environment where everyone feels encouraged to experiment and explore .

By stepping outside their comfort zones, individuals contribute to the company's success, discover hidden talents, and unleash their creative potential.

Preparing for future leadership roles

Thinking about taking the helm one day? Stretch assignments are like your leadership training ground . They let you test your skills on challenging projects, like a mid-level manager heading up a high-impact initiative.

Not only do you tackle tough problems, but you also learn to guide and inspire a team towards success. It's hands-on leadership experience preparing you for the captain's chair.

These challenging projects are like obstacle courses for your leadership skills. You'll face tough decisions, navigate uncertainty, and learn to bring your team together. It's like building a well-rounded toolbox for all things leadership, preparing you for bigger roles down the line.

Think of it as an audition for future leadership opportunities. Stretch assignments show your potential, letting everyone see your ability to handle pressure, make smart choices, and motivate others.

This real-world experience makes you a star team member and a potential future leader.

Cultivate your future leaders with Airswift's Global Employment and Mobility (GEM) ; we personalise your search for professionals to build your organisation's human capital pipeline.

Navigating the challenges of stretch assignments involves acknowledging common fears and imposter syndrome. Still, individuals can confidently tackle challenges and turn them into meaningful personal and professional development adventures by reframing these concerns as opportunities for learning and growth and building a strong support system with mentors and colleagues.

Overcoming fear and imposter syndrome

Taking on a big challenge can feel scary. You might worry about failing or feel like you're not good enough. These feelings are normal. Fear and "imposter syndrome" (that voice telling you you're a fraud) are common, but they don't have to stop you.

The key is to remember that stretch assignments are about learning, not just getting everything right. Think of them as adventures to explore new skills and areas of your work. So, instead of focusing on failure, focus on growth. Celebrate small wins and enjoy the journey!

Talking to others can also help. Mentors have been there before and can offer advice and support. They can share their stories about overcoming challenges and help you set realistic goals. Building a support network can make even the toughest stretch assignments feel manageable.

By facing your fears and reframing how you think about stretch assignments, you can turn them into opportunities for personal growth and confidence.

8 Tips to conquer imposter syndrome at work

Finding the right stretch assignment for your needs

Choosing the right stretch assignment is like finding the sweet spot between a comfy sofa and a cliffhanger. You want it to challenge you but not send you tumbling. And ideally, it should be something you're interested in, too.

Think about your skills , what you're good at, and what you'd like to learn. Then, look for projects that stretch those muscles without overwhelming you. Don't forget about your passions and long-term goals. Pick something that excites you and helps you move towards your dream career.

This way, the challenge won't just feel good; it'll feel meaningful. And if you can't find the perfect fit, don't be afraid to create it! Talk to colleagues, propose new ideas, and show your boss you're proactive.

Many companies have resources to help you find the right stretch assignment. Human resources might offer career development frameworks like maps for your professional journey. They can show you what skills you need for different roles and suggest projects that match your interests.

Mentors can be another great source of advice. They've been there, done that, and have the wisdom to guide you. Ask them about their career paths and see if they can suggest any stretch assignments that fit your goals.

By combining self-reflection, company resources, and mentorship, you can choose a stretch assignment that's both challenging and meaningful. Remember, it's not just about the destination but the journey of growth and discovery.

Building support systems

Taking on a big challenge can feel like scaling a mountain alone. But you don't have to do it by yourself! Having a support team by your side makes all the difference.

Think of your mentors as Sherpas, guiding you through unfamiliar terrain and sharing their wisdom. They've been there before and can help you navigate any tricky bits. Your colleagues are like your fellow climbers, lending a hand and sharing their perspectives. And your supervisor is the base camp, providing resources and motivating you.

Open communication is key. Talk to your team about your goals, worries, and successes. Mentors can offer advice, colleagues can bounce ideas around, and your supervisor can ensure everything aligns with the company's vision. This teamwork makes the climb way more enjoyable!

Smart companies set up mentorship programs where you can learn from experienced pros. They create peer networks where you can share and learn from each other. They ensure regular check-ins with your supervisor, so you always have someone to talk to and keep you on track.

With this robust support system, you can conquer any stretch assignment. Remember, you're not alone – your team is right there with you, cheering you on every step of the way.

In summary, the power and purpose of stretch assignments in career development are undeniable. These experiences offer many benefits, from skill development and boosted confidence to enhanced visibility and unexpected career paths. Despite the challenges, individuals are encouraged to embrace stretch assignments as opportunities for growth, learning, and career advancement .

As Eleanor Roosevelt aptly said, "Do one thing every day that scares you." Individuals genuinely step into their full potential through these challenges and achieve remarkable professional growth.

graphic shows 3 concentric circles labelled comfort zone, stretch zone, and growth zone. An arrow stretched between the comfort and stretch zones and growth zone representing stretch assignments

Ready to take your career to the next level? Airswift's job portal offers the boost you need. Find the perfect fit for your ambitions, be it:

  • Exciting Challenges: Dive into stimulating projects and refine your skills.
  • Leadership Growth: Climb the ladder with tailored support and mentorship.
  • Smooth Transitions: Navigate career changes with expert guidance and a supportive network.

Connect with Airswift today and unlock a world of possibilities.

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stretch assignment português


stretch assignment português


stretch assignment português


stretch assignment português


stretch assignment português


stretch assignment português

30 HR Stretch Assignments That Can Enhance Your Growth, Development & Promotability

Plus a one-page cheat sheet you can use!

stretch assignment português

by Alan Collins

Want to take your career to the next level with your current employer?

Taking on a stretch assignment in your current role may be your ticket.

A stretch assignment is simply a project or task you take on that falls outside your typical duties and requires you to step outside your comfort zone and learn new skills.

There are lots of benefits of tackling one of these assignments:

  • It can accelerate your growth and development without changing jobs.
  • It can infuse more joy, excitement or challenge into your current role.
  • It sends the message that you’re ready for more responsibility.
  • It prepares you for future leadership or promotional opportunities.
  • It potentially provides visibility to higher ups who can open doors for you.

If nothing else, a stretch assignment can add bullets to beef up your resume and prepare for an HR future outside of your organization.

Need some specific examples?

Check out this one-page cheat sheet.


To squeeze the most juice out of this one-pager:     

(a) Use it as a reminder of the types of assignments you may want to pursue.  

(b) Keep it handy on your all devices (phone, laptop, tablet) to access quickly for future reference.

(c) Forward it to HR colleagues who might welcome having this information to aid in their career advancement efforts.

(d) Use it any way you want!

Here’s a case study to illustrate.

Gabrielle Lewis-Smith was frustrated.

As a senior HR manager with one of the largest hospitals in Chicago, she didn’t feel she was moving fast enough in her career.

She loved the organization, didn’t want to leave, but was clueless about what to do.

However, a career-defining moment arrived when she was suddenly thrust into a highly visible leadership role.

When a colleague of hers resigned in the middle of planning the annual organization-wide talent review process, involving 225 leaders in 45 departments, Gabrielle received an unexpected visit from her manager.

“My boss came to me sweating, in a breathless panic,” she recounts.

“And he said, ‘Gabrielle, I need your help. You’ve been doing a great job. I know you’re swamped, but I need you to step up, lead and facilitate this whole thing. Can you do it?’”

In that moment, she felt terrified and out of her comfort zone, having never led something this big and visible to the senior management team.

But, she also had the self-awareness to realize, “This might be my opportunity. Someone sees more leadership potential in me than frankly I see in myself. And trusts me to do this.”

So, with her boss’ 100% assurance that he’d support her all the way, she agreed to bail him out.

And, the experiences and exposure she gained from this “stretch assignment” changed everything.

“It was a turning point in my HR career, and changed forever how I saw myself as a leader. In the end, this project helped me bond with my boss and showcase skills he didn’t know I had.

“I also got great feedback from the higher ups on my role in planning and facilitating many of the reviews.

“And, in the months that followed, I started getting calls and all kinds of opportunities opened themselves up to me, both within… and outside of the hospital.

“My boss promoted me to HR director eight months later.”

So, how do you obtain a stretch assignment?  

Here’s what not to do…

Don’t sit on your butt, waiting to be asked.

stretch assignment português

Instead, take charge! 

Get proactive and seek out projects that would add value to the organization, but can’t get done because of insufficient resources, money or time. 

Or you might also dig into areas within HR or the larger organization where you’ve noticed problems, inefficiencies or dysfunction.

Or it also be as straightforward as raising your hand and volunteering to tackle a project no one else wants to do.

In any event, once you’ve identified an issue or project you’d like to take on, talk to your boss, offer your help and get the ball rolling.

Finally, here’s how to maximize the experience. 0

0 #1:  Stretch in the right direction .

Make certain that your stretch aligns with your current job accountabilities and/or your future career goals.

#2:  Take time to plan your stretch.

Stretch assignments can be time intensive and energy consuming. Make sure what you’ve selected inspires and excites you.

#3:  Where possible, include others.

Engaging others will offer you new leadership opportunities by allowing you to delegate tasks and coordinate assignments with colleagues.

Teaming up with peers, or possibly a mentor, can also cause the endeavor to seem less daunting.

 #4:  Seek guidance. 

Stretch assignments take you out of your comfort zone which means you are not expected to have all the answers. So do don’t be afraid to ask questions, request direction and ask for assistance when you need it.

#5:  Cross organizational boundaries.

Stretch assignment are often most effective when they include working with individuals from another area of your organization.

Such assignments can give you insights that can build your total business perspective and insight.

#6:  Market what you accomplish.

Even if you knocked the project out of the park, it won’t mean much if no one knows what you’ve accomplished.

In your pre-deal negotiation, request that your stretch assignment be marketed internally.

For example, ask that it serve as a best practice story and be shared through appropriate HR or company channels, whether it’s via an internal newsletter, social network, webinar or even in a brown-bag information session.

All this helps you publicize and maximize the value you gain from the experience.

Have you taken on a stretch assignment recently?

Now may be the perfect time to tackle one.

If you’re like Gabrielle, it may be exactly the kind career-defining move you need to launch your career forward.

Got comments, thoughts and additional insights?

Post them in the comments below by clicking HERE.

stretch assignment português

Then check out: STAY INSPIRED IN HR: 21 Positive Reminders To Keep You Motivated, Encouraged, Confident & Committed To Success in Human Resources.   Get more details here.

stretch assignment português

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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▾ dictionary english-portuguese, stretch noun ( plural: stretches ) —, trecho m ( plural: trechos m ), elasticidade f, stretch ( sth. ) verb ( stretched , stretched ) —, esticar (algo) v, espreguiçar-se v, stretch out v —, stretch film n —, final stretch n —, stretch of water n —, stretch fabric n —, stretch of coast n —, stretch forming n —, stretch of land n —, coastal stretch n —, elastic stretch n —, initial stretch n —, stretch films pl —, stretch trousers pl —, stretch of road n —, ▾ external sources (not reviewed).

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Tradução de stretch — Dicionário inglês-português

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  • The plastic cover was stretched tight across the tank .
  • I stretched out and listened to the sound of the rushing stream .
  • The cat was stretching in front of the fire .
  • Yoga is a great way to stretch your body .
  • I get up and walk around every half hour just to stretch my legs .
  • The road stretched into the distance as far as the eye could see .
  • The mountain range stretched away into infinity .
  • A broad sweep of flat countryside stretched to the horizon in all directions .
  • On the eastern horizon , a huge cloud of smoke from burning oil tanks stretched across the sky .
  • A ribbon of road stretched ahead of us across the desert .


  • There has been a collision on the southbound stretch of the motorway .
  • This stretch of land was once covered with luxuriant forest , but is now bare .
  • This stretch of water is heavily used by shipping .
  • There have been many shipwrecks along this dangerous stretch of coastline .
  • The car was dumped in a stretch of wasteland in the south of the city .

(Tradução de stretch do Cambridge English-Portuguese Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Tradução de stretch | Dicionário GLOBAL inglês-português

(Tradução de stretch do Dicionário GLOBAL inglês-português © 2021 K Dictionaries Ltd)

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Palavra do Dia

pollen count

a measurement of the amount of pollen in the air

Varied and diverse (Talking about differences, Part 1)

Varied and diverse (Talking about differences, Part 1)

stretch assignment português

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  • inglês-chinês (tradicional) Chinese (Traditional)–English
  • inglês-holandês neerlandês-inglês
  • inglês-francês francês-inglês
  • inglês-alemão alemão-inglês
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  • stretch (REACH)
  • stretch (SPREAD)
  • stretch (MAKE LONGER)
  • stretch (PART)
  • stretch (TIME)
  • at a stretch
  • stretch your legs
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    Stretch assignments are a cornerstone of a strong employee development plan. A statement that is backed by a number of research studies. In one conducted by the Harvard Business Review of 823 executives, it was found that 71% of respondents said stretch assignments had the biggest impact on unleashing their potential. In another, this one conducted by Korn Ferry, stretch assignments were named ...

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    1. Identify potential stretch assignments. 2. Provide support and guidance. 3. Recognize and reward achievements. Be the first to add your personal experience. 4. Evaluate and improve the program.

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    2. Be Inquisitive. "Be as curious as you can possibly be," says Frank, who recommends speaking to a wide cross-section of those involved. Ask management why they felt it was important for you ...

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    You should also be realistic and flexible about the scope, timeline, and resources of the stretch assignment. Add your perspective Help others by sharing more (125 characters min.) Cancel

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  11. The power and purpose of stretch assignments in career advancement

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    Following are the seven steps for designing a stretch assignment: 1. Analyze employee experiences. Before creating your stretch assignment, evaluate the candidate in comparison to your succession plan. Determine what skills, knowledge or experiences an employee could develop prior to taking on an advanced role at the company.

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    Tradução de "stretch assignments" em português. atribuições desafiadoras. Participants receive stretch assignments that develop breadth of experience and a portfolio of skills. Os participantes recebem atribuições desafiadoras que desenvolvem grande experiência e um portfólio de habilidades. We offer formal training options ...

  14. 15 Questions To Ask Before Accepting A Stretch Assignment

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    Many translated example sentences containing "stretch assignments" ... The IANA port allocated for ManageSieve is 4190/tcp, and the old port used by timsieved and other managesieve software in many distributions ... together with their level of assignment, the format and the code lists from which the values of the coded attributes are taken ...

  16. Use Stretch Assignments to Get Ahead at Work. Here's How.

    7. Focus on Learning as Much as the Outcome. Don't be quick to judge the gaps in your knowledge when you take on a new role or project. Embrace your newcomer status and find joy in your learning ...

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    In its most basic sense, a stretch assignment is any kind of project or task that is beyond your current skill set or expertise. Usually, it can be a short-term activity or even a permanent venture into a new field that will provide you with challenging experiences meant to expand your growing list of abilities. The keyword here is "stretch," which means that stretch assignments can extend ...

  18. 30 HR Stretch Assignments That Can Enhance Your Growth, Development

    Make certain that your stretch aligns with your current job accountabilities and/or your future career goals. #2: Take time to plan your stretch. Stretch assignments can be time intensive and energy consuming. Make sure what you've selected inspires and excites you. #3: Where possible, include others.

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    Stretch assignments can often be done in conjunction of the employee's regular work. 2. It's an effective retention strategy - Many people have reported that participating in a stretch ...

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  21. stretch

    espreguiçar-se v. It is normal to stretch after a good night of sleep. É normal espreguiçar-se após uma boa noite de sono. less common: alongar algo v.


    STRETCH translate: estirar, estender, estender-se, esticar, estirar, espichar, trecho, alongamento, distensão…. Learn more in the Cambridge English-Portuguese ...


    STRETCH tradução: estirar, estender, estender-se, esticar, estirar, espichar, trecho, alongamento, distensão…. Veja mais em Dicionário Cambridge inglês-português