Cross Training and The Unrealized Business Value

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” – Anton Chekhov

In today’s world of ultra-competitive business and negativity surrounding the current economic environment, businesses are looking for ways to keep their employees happy while facilitating ways to improve efficiencies.

We’ve highlighted hiringonboarding and training employees properly as a great starting point. After the initial onboarding process, employees interact with fellow employees in team and company meetings and when problems arise that require multiple departments to become involved.

These are usually a source of high friction and frustration as individuals do not understand the counterparty’s point of view and the problems they are facing.

A method we have seen help reduce the friction and frustration from both parties involved is to cross-train departments that often interact with each other.

Cross-training of your organization has shown to have many positive effects on both the employees as well as the business as a whole.

  • Flexibility: If an employee is trained to do one specific job that has only a few tasks, they are concentrated on that specific object. When they are trained to take care of tasks from different departments and other parts of the organization, it creates the opportunity for them to take on more responsibility. When staffing shortages due to vacation or RIFs occur, your organization is better equipped to pick up the balls and keep them juggling.
  • Collaboration: When you learn a new skill and how to do some of the finer points of someone else’s job, you’re not only learning that skill but also the pain points involved with performing that job. By having individuals who can empathize with colleagues and their roles, it creates an environment for better communication and collaboration between departments.
  • Reduced Costs: When your staff is trained to take on additional tasks outside of their normal workload, you have the opportunity to find out if they can handle the additional duties when people depart your organization for various reasons. If you do not cross-train, then you are forced to hire temp roles or stretch your department staff thinner. When departments are cross-trained, the burden of employee departure can be reduced and if they can maintain the additional responsibilities and still perform their current role, you’ve just eliminated the need to backfill the role.
  • Innovation: Being able to put someone else’s shoes on and think outside of the box is a great starting point to foster creativity and innovative ideas. Cross-training individuals brings a different approach to problems and a fresh perspective. An internal way of inspecting what you expect.
  • Morale: One often overlooked aspect of developing employees professionally is the boost in morale for the organization. As humans, we yearn for growth opportunities and feel more valued when we are pushed to be better. By cross-training your employees and thus helping them develop professionally, you will indirectly boost your company’s morale.

With numerous benefits to cross-training, it makes sense to cross-train to help improve the skills of your current workforce and build an environment that encourages employees to upskill and get better at what they do.

The ancillary benefits of these initiatives far outweigh the efficiency and productivity lost in the time it takes to do so.

Do you really want to create organizational change? Get your C-Suite or department heads involved in learning a new skill. Anytime your workforce sees management come down off of their ivory thrones, get in the trenches and rub elbows with their reports, it creates a positive environment. Want a better description of the emotion, just watch this clip of William Wallace from Braveheart joining his fellow men in battle: Braveheart Speech.

Let’s get to work.