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Stretch assignments

  • Thread starter IvanDom
  • Start date Apr 9, 2007
  • Apr 9, 2007

Hola a todos, estoy trabajando en temas de desarrollo de personas en empresas y aparece la siguiente frase que me supera: Has the ability to take on major stretch assignments in new areas with promotions and lateral movement into just about any situation. Gracias  

fenixpollo

Senior Member

  • Apr 10, 2007

assignment = una tarea a stretch assignment = una tarea que requiere que el empleado se estire para terminarla. En este caso "estirar" se utiliza de forma metafórica, porque sugiere que el empleado tiene la capacidad de hacer la tarea, pero todavía no lo ha hecho, se le va a hacer difícil, y va a necesitar crecer como persona en cuanto a su carácter y/o sus habilidades y conocimientos para lograr la meta. Espero que te ayude. Saludos.  

FelixPollo, muchas gracias, lo de estirar no logro asimilarlo bien, porque el contexto es mas bien formal. Saludos, Ivan dom  

Lo de "estirar" significa que la tarea es un reto para el empleado, que es una tarea difícil, que es una tarea que tiene la oportunidad de superación . Saludos.  

FenixPollo, creo que diste en el clavo con la idea de "reto", eso me hace mucho sentido. Gracias  

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Why You Should Take on More Stretch Assignments

  • Jahna Berry

stretch assignment español

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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Tips to develop talented employees

Stretch assignments can help employees develop new skills, and building a great team can only make you look better..

Managing people takes a lot of finesse. Being in charge of employee development requires even more skill, but the payoff is worth it. Investing in and supporting employees tends to lead to higher productivity and more loyalty on the job—plus a better workforce overall. But helping your staff reach their potential is about more than just sending them to endless classes—although some training can be useful. The following stretch assignments can help you grow your best team.

What is a stretch assignment?

A stretch assignment is an extra project or task that’s out of the ordinary that will build a skill or give employees visibility with important stakeholders .

“Maybe there’s something they need to learn or demonstrate that they’ve learned in order to be seen as more competent,” says Mikaela Kiner, an executive career coach in Seattle and CEO of uniquelyHR. “If they’re just doing their day-to-day job, they may not get the skills or exposure they need to progress within the organization.”

That could mean rotating roles, or even job shadowing, if there are others in the organization they can shadow. “Or maybe there’s a particular experience you want someone to gain,” Kiner says. “It might be an experience in the field or international, if you have a distributed team, but create assignments that help them get that experience as part of their day-to-day job.”

Assign them to a cross-functional group

When someone has been with the company for a couple of years, things can start to get a little predictable. As part of a strong employee development plan, help them expand their perspective by giving them exposure to people with different expertise.

“Put them on a team of cross-functional skills to help solve a branding issue or a supply chain issue,” says Wayne Strickland, a career coach, speaker, and author of Get Over Yourself, Decide to Lead: Insights From Hard Lessons Learned . “When you take people with limited breadth in their careers and put them in a group with broad skills and experiences, they grow. All of a sudden, you don’t have to tell them everything, they can be a part of the group and hear for themselves.”

Give them a customer-facing assignment

There’s nothing like a stretch assignment that throws your employees into the customer wilderness to teach them to sink or swim.

“There are a lot of people who stay in the office and are very theoretical about the way things work,” Strickland says. “They can get very adamant and borderline arrogant about what the customer should do.”

Solution: Send them out into the field or put them in a position where they’re interacting with customers or clients directly. “They grow up,” Strickland says. “Customers have requirements, they have demands, and they have strategies, and you have to fall in line with them.”

Fill the gaps

Part of managing workers includes understanding what’s most important in that person’s role and determining where they need to grow. That might mean offering individual coaching or staff training that’s useful to a group of employees.

“It’s a good opportunity for a customized workshop or training , but make sure it’s not off the shelf,” Kiner says. “Bring in something that has the right look and feel for your organization.”

You’ll also find, as you test your employees in different roles, that they can’t do everything perfectly—and that’s fine. “You always find a few flat spots, like they don’t collaborate , or they don’t communicate effectively ,” Strickland says. “You can go work on something for six months to a year, and then give them another shot at doing the same thing again.”

Offer regular feedback

Instead of an annual performance review—which experts aren’t big fans of—consider quarterly employee reviews along with continuous feedback . “Things are moving so fast, and organizations are so dynamic,” Kiner says. “So, storing up feedback for a long time is a disservice to everyone.”

That doesn’t mean bombarding someone with feedback every day, but if it’s relevant, let them know. “They need to know specifically what they’re doing well and where there’s opportunity to grow,” says MaryBeth Hyland, a workplace culture consultant and founder of SparkVision. “If you can say it to a dog—like, ‘Good job!’—it’s not feedback.”

And when you offer feedback, make sure it comes from a place of kindness. “If you just say, ‘Wow, you did a really crappy job on that presentation today,’ that’s not constructive,” Hyland says. “Give it some intent before giving feedback: ‘I think you’re one of our rising stars, and the only way you’ll continue to rise is if we continue to have an open dialog and feedback about what you can do better. Next time, when you do this kind of presentation, let’s make sure there’s some more detail associated with X, Y, and Z.’”

Be a confident boss

Being a manager takes a lot of work, and knowing the ins and outs of team building exercises like stretch assignments requires skill and experience. Looking for some ways to be a better manager? Become a Monster member for free and get expert career advice emailed to you every week. You can also upload up to five versions of your resume. Recruiters check Monster every day for managers with great people skills. Make sure they can find you.

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When to take on "stretch" assignments, and when to say no

stretch assignment español

(eternalcreative / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Usually you should embrace new tasks and responsibilities at work to demonstrate your potential, but sometimes an opportunity comes along that might only bog you down without advancing your career. Here are four instances where you might be better off saying no thanks.

If you're like most professionals, you'll eventually reach a point in your career when you realize that you can't advance to the next level without being able to show that you have relevant experience — a lot of it.

One way to demonstrate that you have potential to grow beyond your current role is to take on "stretch" assignments. In 2003, Catalyst reported that a whopping 40 percet of women in corporate leadership positions said that seeking out difficult, highly visible assignments had been a very important advancement strategy. It makes sense: By volunteering for additional responsibilities, you can learn new skills, make your talents visible to your leaders, and demonstrate your readiness to step into a role that goes beyond the one you're currently in.

But despite all the benefits of volunteering for stretch assignments, there are times when the extra workload can actually work against you. In a recent coaching program, one participant told me, "A mentor told me that volunteering for stretch assignments will help improve my career. I took on three new projects, and now I'm not getting any sleep. Help!"

This woman's mentor had given her good advice, but it has to be applied within reason. We have to learn to put guardrails around accepting stretch assignments so that we don't get stretched too thin by them!

But how? How can you say "no" to stretch assignments without also saying "no" to furthering your career?

The key is to be highly selective. One common misstep that both high performers and new employees make is accepting too many low-visibility assignments that require them to work overtime without gaining the benefits of recognition and new skills that such assignments should bring. To avoid stretching yourself too thin for no visible career benefit, here is a checklist for when to diplomatically say "no" to extra assignments.

Assignments That Stretch You Too Thin

Before saying yes to a stretch assignment, do a risk assessment. Be brutally honest with yourself: Is there a risk you'll overreach, take on too much, and compromise your ability to fulfill your regular responsibilities well?

Start by weighing the obvious factors, such as whether this side project will suck time away from your core priorities and what trade-offs it might take in your personal life to accommodate extra hours at work.

For example, Andy, a technical project manager, had recently earned his MBA and was looking out for opportunities to build a reputation as a strategic thinker. When invited to take on a stretch assignment to combine numerous products into a single product line, he said, "I weighed the probability of being successful against the workload and lack of a cohesive business plan, and saw a no-win scenario." Ultimately, he declined to participate.

Don't ignore the possibility of unexpected emotional costs, either. Will saying yes to this assignment mean working with a leader who is known for burning people out? Will it require you to collaborate with co-workers who are notorious for slacking off in the face of a looming deadline?

Look for projects that stretch you without overwhelming you, so that you can deliver a consistently high quality of work. Focus on the quality of assignments, not quantity — and take them on at a cadence that allows you some recovery time between deadlines and deliverables.

Assignments That Don't Build Your Strengths

The best stretch assignments are those that require you to build business acumen, new technical skills, or leadership ability. Don't volunteer yourself for a project unless it has the potential to expand your skill set and lets you demonstrate your potential to go beyond the job you're currently in.

After turning down the first stretch assignment, Andy noticed that his business unit lacked a single point of contact for coordinating requests for new product development investments. Whereas the previous assignment would have used his existing project management skills, this one required him to develop new skills, such as strategic thinking and engaging stakeholders across the organization. He volunteered, shouldering an additional full-time workload for a month. "I built credibility as a strategic leader, which helped me land the higher-profile role that I'm in today," he said.

Assignments That Don't Meaningfully Expand Your Network

Stay away from projects that are all about work and have no relationship-building opportunities. Go after projects that allow you to build stronger working relationships and demonstrate your expertise to leaders, sponsors, potential mentors, and peers.

For example, say your company's annual charitable giving campaign is spearheaded by a leader you admire, who is responsible for an increasingly important business division in the company. Even though the campaign isn't directly job-related, taking a lead role in it can be a way to show that person that you are smart, energetic, and reliable—and to convey that you'd like to work for him or her one day. And the random collection of colleagues you'll meet and bond with? If you stay in touch, you can become each others' eyes and ears for what's going on in different departments.

Assignments That Don't Build the Reputation You Want to Be Known For

Say no to projects that don't align with the personal brand you're trying to build and promote within your organization. For example, if you want to be regarded as a strong cross-functional project leader, think twice about committing to assignments that require you to work alone. Ideally, the assignments you accept should align with your brand and give you opportunities to showcase your accomplishments and make your value visible to management.

Overall, remember that stretch assignments are designed to build your skill set, network, and organizational brand, not simply add busy work to your already busy schedule.

But keep in mind: When you're offered assignments that aren't a match, don't just say no! You'll hurt your chances of being asked again. Thank the person for the opportunity, letting him or her know you're honored to be considered. Then graciously decline, "in order to give my full attention to responsibilities already on my plate."

Even then, don't leave him or her hanging. Recommend a colleague who might appreciate the assignment. And hint at what you'd like to do instead. This last step is critical: Give specific examples, like "Keep me in mind for future projects that require a project manager with strong interest in business strategy."

Finally, there will be times when it simply is not possible or politically astute to turn down a stretch assignment, and if that is the case, agree to help out—but seize the moment to negotiate what you want from your next assignment.

Be ruthless — but diplomatic — about negotiating assignments that align with where you want to go next in your career. Otherwise the only stretching you'll be doing is stretching yourself too thin.

This post originally appeared on The Muse .

Jo Miller is founding editor of  BeLeaderly.com  and CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching Inc. Jo is a sought-after speaker who has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops. Follow  @ jo_miller  on Twitter.

  • >  December  

IMAGES

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  1. Why Do We Involuntarily Stretch?

    A person stretches involuntarily because it increases blood flow to the muscles, reduces stiffness of joints and prevents injuries. Most people stretch after waking up because muscles and joints have been stiff for a long time.

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  3. Can Human Intestines Stretch Around the World?

    The large and small intestines of the average adult human, when stretched, are only an average of 25 feet long and cannot stretch around the world. It would take the intestines of multiple humans to stretch the circumference of Earth.

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  9. Stretch Assignment: An Opportunity to Advance Your Career

    A stretch-assignment is a project or task that is currently beyond your current job scope and/or skillset. These assignments are known as “

  10. Using Stretch Assignments To Develop Your Employees

    The stretch assignment continues to be one of the best employee development tools every manager has at his/her disposal.

  11. Why You Should Take on More Stretch Assignments

    Stretch projects require skills or knowledge beyond your current level of development and are great opportunities to shine in a new arena.

  12. Stretch Assignments For Employees

    Tips to develop talented employees. Stretch assignments can help employees develop new skills, and building a great team can only make you look better.

  13. When to take on "stretch" assignments, and when to say no

    Usually you should embrace new tasks and responsibilities at work to demonstrate your potential, but sometimes an opportunity comes along

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