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Develop and Challenge Yourself through Growth Assignments

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Typically, a “growth assignment” is a project or task given to employees that is beyond their current knowledge or skills level in order to “stretch” them developmentally. The growth assignment challenges employees by placing them into uncomfortable situations in order to learn and grow. 

Organizations use growth assignments in their leadership development and succession management efforts. Employees should seek out and accept growth assignments for personal and career development.  But if your organization isn’t directing growth assignments your way, a recent HBR Blog Network post, “Make Time for Growth Assignments in Your Daily Work” offers some advice for seeking them out for yourself. 


Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress, advises workers to “brainstorm the development opportunities that either currently fall within the scope of your role or could if you asked for them.” She outlines several techniques for finding the possibilities that work best for you: 

  • Look over your job description for activities that you would love to pursue, but haven't gotten to yet.
  • Think about some of the dreams that you had for your current position before you started. What did you hope to accomplish?
  • Set up a lunch or coffee with people in similar positions, either at your company or at a different company, and ask how they invest in learning.
  • Survey your current area of influence and jot down opportunities for improvement. 

As a time-management coach, Saunders counsels workers to determine a specific focus—and stick to it. “One of the best ways to do this is to look at the value created by additional investment… Then, decide on one or two that have the most potential to stretch your skills and have a meaningful organizational impact,” Saunders writes. 
For more tips and advice, read the complete blog post.


About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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