Business & Talent. Aligned.

How you manage talent spells the difference between success and failure. To gain a competitive edge, leaders must be prepared to address shifting economic, social and demographic trends that impact workforce performance. Stay informed with research, insights and advice from our leading industry experts. The world of work is changing. Is your company ready?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stretching to new heights

With flatter organizations and leaner resources, we need to make the most of what we have. Often, staff cuts necessitate the assignment of new roles and responsibilities to existing employees. Stretch assignments can be a productive way to develop employees and also meet the business demands you’re expected to deliver on without adding head count.

Research reported in Fast Company revealed that 68% of Emerging Leaders said that stretch assignments had the greatest impact in accelerating their development. For High Potential employees, 57% reported the same.

To make stretch assignments successful for all parties, it’s important to set realistic goals at the outset. Engage employees in discussions to make sure the new projects are aligned with their skills and interests, as well as those needed for the business. And once underway, schedule regular reviews to discuss progress and track results.

Stretch assignments provide numerous benefits, broadening both the individual and the organization to achieve new heights in performance. As Elliott Masie cites in a recent Great Leadership blog: “Unfortunately, organizations do not use stretch assignments often or strategically in their leadership development efforts.” He continues with listing the multitude of benefits, including lower cost development, bonding with the organization which bolsters retention and engagement, and career path exploration for high potentials.

There are also some limitations to factor in. Stretch assignments are custom for each individual and are not a one-size-fits-all initiative. If you want the latter, send your leaders to a workshop. As a leader, you need to be hands-on in actively supporting the assignment and your employee. This includes coaching or mentoring throughout the process and committing resources to provide employees with the experiences that will hone their skills.

Yes, stretch assignments can be complicated. But the return far outweighs the risk when implemented properly.

No comments:

Post a Comment