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03.06 – Using Stretch Assignments to Develop People

03.06 - Using Stretch Assignments to Develop People
Well I think first of all when you make a decision to put somebody in a real stretch assignment it’s because you believe in them. And you believe they’re a part of the future and they’ve got a lot of potential. And so you have to sign up for supporting that stretch assignment. You can’t just put somebody in the role and sort of, you throw it to the wall and see if it sticks. For Morgan-Stanley, we, I’d say, in the last 12 months, have had some very public senior mobility, taking really senior people from one part of the business and moving them to another part. It’s fair to say that it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time on.
The easy part might have been actually deciding who was moving where. The hard part was working with each of those individuals to help them understand why they’ve been chosen, and the cycle. It’s a life cycle, right? The first time you get moved to a different job that you don’t want, you’re in mourning. And then you move from mourning to acceptance. And then most of these people move to excelling. For me, the way I like to describe it to people is, you can’t think about your career ever as an upward trajectory. You gotta think about your career as a spiral. And so, as you get new assignments and stretch assignments, you have to think about what skills will I develop?
And I use a very specific example. One of my senior people that ran HR for one of our largest businesses needed a number two, and I asked somebody to take that role, and she turned it down. She didn’t want to work for the guy. She felt he was his peer, her peer. So she turned the job down. Eight months later he got promoted into the business as the Chief Operating Officer for the business. She would’ve gotten the job, she would’ve had the number one job. Instead, we took somebody out of a completely different area, completely different set of skills, put them in a real stretch role, and now, he’s got the top job.
So, if you want to be really successful in a big corporation, ego’s gotta get checked at the door. Teamwork’s gotta come first. If you stay focused on what’s best for the client, how am I gonna take control and responsibility for my own career, we could have a whole conversation about sponsors and mentors because you need those to be successful. You just stay focused on that. I’m definitely a believer that good things happen to those that are willing to do what it takes to be successful, not those that are predisposed to what that looks like.
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