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Expand Your Horizons by Taking on Stretch Assignments

By DeVry University

November 18, 2021
5 min read


There's a reason why almost every video game has increasing levels of difficulties: to keep gamers at the edge of their seat, excited and curious about the challenges that lie ahead. No matter what their goals and ambitions are, people tend to crave adventure and new hurdles to overcome.


That's also the reason why taking on stretch assignments has become a new and appealing strategy for discovering new skills and abilities you never knew you had.

What Is a Stretch Assignment?

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 your range of knowledge and help you unfold your hidden skills.

What Are the Benefits of Stretch Assignments?

Taking on a stretch assignment isn't just a step toward skill development — it's also a fun step toward individual progress and character development.

It Helps Build Up Your Resiliency in Tough Situations

Resiliency is that never-give-up attitude you need when you're in the middle of getting out of a tough situation. You can read books about grit and endurance, or even watch a documentary of a successful athlete who battled numerous injuries in his or her career. But there's no better way of improving your resiliency than being in a new environment filled with various hurdles to overcome.

Trying to overcome new challenges will help increase your resiliency level — even if there are times that lead to failure. The process is what counts, as acquiring new skills will get you out of your comfort zone and even help you build a new one. A stretch assignment will not just make the unfamiliar familiar to you, but it will also increase your endurance when another unexpected problem comes your way.

It Provides a Much-Needed Breather From the Routine

Nothing can exhaust you of your creativity and motivation more than being stuck in a routine where you do the same thing over and over for a long period of time. That is when we start to lose inspiration and the quality of our work decreases.

Stretch assignments will give you the chance to breathe in some fresh air and recharge your battery. After you finish a stretch assignment, you can go back to your original role, but this time you'll feel reenergized and inspired.

What Are Some Stretch Assignment Examples?

Stretch assignments can vary in type and duration, but here are some stretch assignment examples that may be found across different fields or industries:

Mentoring a Teammate or a New Member of the Group

Being great at what you do is one thing, but teaching someone to also be great at what you do takes another level of patience and commitment. Of course, it goes without saying that before you become a mentor, you have to become proficient in your own work first. It can take time — even years — to hone your skills.

When you become good at your job, and you know that you're ready for whatever challenges it might provide, then that knowledge will give you the confidence to be a mentor to a younger teammate or a new member of your group.

Assuming a Leadership Role

A stretch assignment can also help mold you into a great leader, as it doesn't just broaden your knowledge but can also enhance your interpersonal skills. These interpersonal skills can help you relate more to your team and interact with them, which, in turn, may help them respond well to your brand of leadership.

It may help your development to observe and study great leaders who came before you. Developing leadership skills can take time, and you can learn a lot by following the lead of your manager or of those you admire. The important thing is to not cheat the process. Stay patient and committed, and pursue the opportunity to lead when you think you're ready.

How Will You Ask Your Manager to Give You a Stretch Assignment?

If you feel like you're ready to move out of your comfort zone and take the next step, here's how you can approach your manager to ask for a stretch assignment:

Make Sure That You're Ready

When you ask your manager or supervisor to give you a stretch assignment, make sure that you're mentally and emotionally ready to take on a new task that is beyond your expertise. Stretch assignments will not just expand your skillset, but they can also test your patience and level of commitment. You can’t quit when the situation gets tough.

Come Up With a Plan on How to Help the Team

Sure, you are willing to learn a new role, but how could that help the team or the company move forward? Stretch assignments may be one of the best ways to grow individually, but remember that it’s also important to be a valuable asset to the team. Back up your stretch assignment request by laying out the ways where you think your new role can help your team achieve more success in the near future.

Ready to Expand Your Skillset?

With many businesses adapting to the technology-driven world, the way people work has also changed. Don't worry though — DeVry University and its Keller Graduate School of Management are here to help you stay at the top of the world of business. Grow your skillset by enrolling in either our Bachelor’s Degree in Business, which can be paired with one of four different specializations, or our Master's of Business Administration (MBA)1 program that you can earn in as few as 10 coursesand the option to choose from 10 specializations.

Find out more about how DeVry's business programs can help you develop and pursue your vision of leadership.

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