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Team Role FAQs: Right Amount of Stretch

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You have described the difference between my preference and my role as the ‘stretch’. What is the right amount of stretch I should be experiencing?

That is quite an advanced question that is usually considered in depth in a coaching context.  ‘Stretch’ refers to the difference between your preferred role, and the role you are actually undertaking. Eg: if your preferred role is Conductor, but you are performing the Coach role, then that is a big stretch. However, the ideal size of stretch varies for each individual, depending on their circumstances.

For example, a small stretch (ie doing what you prefer/enjoy) can be fulfilling, but you might also find that too much of it is boring. A big stretch (ie doing something far away from your preferences on the MTR-i team wheel) can be stressful, but it can also be challenging and develop you.

For example, fast-track graduate trainees often do lots of different jobs in their early career, spending for example 3 months in each one. They may enjoy doing these jobs, even when they are not their preferences, because they are time-limited and leading on to better things.

So, stretch can be big or small, and good or bad, as illustrated in this table:

Bad StressStagnation

If you are experiencing stretch as a bad thing, then you have to decide whether it is something you can endure (eg: short term pain for long term gain).  If not, you then have to decide whether to move directly up from the “bad” line to the “good” one, or to move diagonally.  There are a range of techniques that can be used to do this, such as ‘reframing’ (seeing the work in a different perspective) or by making change to the environment (getting a different job or changing your duties).

There isn’t usually a simple answer, it is something that needs to be looked at in a coaching setting.

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