Enhance your career development with a “stretch assignment”

Culture · Mar 17, 2016

Career development is important to everyone, but it can be difficult to articulate what you want professionally and why your company should invest in you. I take great joy in providing advice and best practices to my colleagues and building tools they can use to manage their career.

One piece of advice is to learn simply by doing.

A “stretch assignment” is a project outside of your knowledge or scope of responsibility. They’re a chance to test the water with something you’ve never done before and try something new. The purpose is to challenge yourself. It sounds uncomfortable and intimidating but it’s good to get out of your comfort zone to learn and develop yourself professionally.

I love trying new things and I like to feel like I’m adding value to my company. This brings me to the story of my stretch assignment: creating these pages (one | two) for the redesign of labs.telus.com. As a People Ops Specialist, this was something I’ve never done before. I’d like to share a few things I learned through “stretching” out of my role:

  1. Raise your hand. 

  2. Finding a stretch assignment might be the hardest part. Sometimes you’re lucky and they’re given to you. But more often than not, you need to be pro-active, look for opportunities and ask. Think about what you want to do then step in. Making the case isn’t difficult. Your organization will benefit from:

      • increased employee engagement

      • increased retention

      • cost-effective learning

      • getting something done

  3. Get early buy-in. 

  4. Find out which stakeholders and team members you’ll need engage. Chances are you are going to be dealing with people you’ve never dealt with before. Getting early support from all relevant parties ensures you’re all on the same page from the start:

      • Gather feedback on the direction the assignment

      • Consider all the angles

      • Listen to concerns and do your due diligence

  5. Mistakes will happen. That’s okay.

  6. “I got it 100% right on the first try” said no one ever. Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. Find out what worked and what didn’t. Be adaptable, embrace what’s happened and move forward. It’s all about learning. Because at the end of the day the stretch assignment was for you to learn. You can’t do that without making a few mistakes or let’s face it – it wasn’t a stretch assignment.

  7. Take ownership. 

  8. I own my career. How much I get out of it depends on how much I put in. I wanted to do this right so I leveraged the resources around me. I asked questions like:

      • What isn’t working with labs.telus.com?

      • What could we do better?

      • Where are the gaps?

  9. The answers are interesting and the project is still growing. For example, we discovered we needed to be part of the online conversation so we are developing a social media presence and we’re improving our content strategy to increase search rankings.

Don’t forget, you’re in charge of your career. If you want a stretch assignment, nothing is stopping you from finding one. Don’t be scared to take a chance.

TELUS digital is great at supporting career development. I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of months and I’m excited to present to you the new labs.telus.com. I’m proud to say that I was part of this delivery, but I know it’s not complete. We’ll keep at it to continually improve.

So give us your thoughts – what do you think of the new labs.telus.com? What do you want to read about on our blog? What do you want to know about working at TELUS digital? Just ask, email us or drop us a line in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you.

Authored by:
Veronica Van
Veronica Van
Manager, TELUS Standards & Resources
Veronica supports the team behind The HUB and Brand Resource Centre at TELUS Digital. She's passionate about employee experience, culture and creating a continuous learning environment.