How to structure effective stretch assignments

As we look to bolster our organizations and teams, we recognize that we can’t stick to the status quo. We’ve got to take advantage of new opportunities. We’ve got to develop new skills and pursue knowledge that’ll take us to the next level.

You can set high expectations and work to motivate your team the right way, but an important component of that is ensuring the projects and responsibilities you develop to push your employees are developed in ways that set them up for success.

Leadership guru Julie Winkle Giulioni has a recent piece on stretch assignments. These assignments are intended to push employees past their comfort zone, but not so far that it breaks them. While each person will have varying tolerance levels for the discomfort and be motivated in different ways, she outlines four questions for leaders to consider in order to develop successful stretch assignments:

  1. What is the developmental purpose of the stretch assignment? One of my recent blogs covered the power of purpose. Understanding the “why” behind a stretch assignment is important. But you can’t just detail how this assignment will benefit the company. Leaders must demonstrate how the skills and knowledge gained from completing it will be good for the employee long term. Work with the employee to identify their professional goals and connect those to the task at hand.


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