The Best Backup Idea – Cross-Training Your Employees

Business goes off-track when a key employee quits or takes a long vacation. Most businesses operate with leaner teams, making each employee a vital part of the mix. In such a case, when one employee is unavailable, there’s no one else who could take over his responsibilities. What results? Lean productivity. Really bad for business, huh!There’s always a solution. If managers cross-trained employees so there’s always at least one employee who could take over the responsibilities of another, it will be the best backup for the business. Priorities shift quickly in a constantly-changing business environment. It is here that cross-training will prove to be absolutely useful.

Really Helpful? Is It?

Duh! Cross-training has immense benefits for corporations, especially those with smaller teams and limited workforce. It helps build stronger teams because employees get to know the challenges faced by their colleagues in their respective job roles. This motivates them to be supportive of one another, increasing work efficiency.

As Jerry Osteryoung, professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, points out, “Benefits of cross-training include corporate readiness when there is a need to fill the shoes of an employee; providing more variety in employees’ work, which typically results in happier and more productive workers; and the interaction of employees, which builds a sense of teamwork within and between departments as each employee becomes more aware of what other employees and departments do.”

Despite its utility, cross-training is a magic leadership tool that most managers and supervisors, unfortunately, tend to overlook or underestimate. In fact, what many fail to realise is that cross-training outweighs the results of other methods aimed at enhancing team performance.

Okay, Got It. So, How Do I Get It Done?

As a manager or an HR professional, that’s exactly what you could be thinking. Developing a cross-training program for an enterprise isn’t that difficult if you get certain nuances right. A cross-training program cannot be designed and implemented at short notice, that too during a period of crisis. Managers need to be ready beforehand and implement the program after careful planning. Before initiating such a program, there are a few decisions that the organization needs to take. For instance, it will have to decide who is eligible for training, whether the training is to be restricted to specific job roles, whether it will be voluntary or mandatory, the protocols that need to be set in place for the implementation of the program, etc.

Step-Wise Please!

The first action that is mission critical to the implementation of a cross-training program is the drawing up of a list of tasks and functions that are vital for the business’ daily operations. These tasks need to be prioritized so that essential tasks can be included in the training program.

Once the tasks are decided and prioritized, it will be possible to match the tasks which require cross-training coverage with the employees who are to be trained. Instead of simply training one employee to handle another’s task, it is better to train a number of employees for various components of a task so they can pitch in together and responsibilities are shared.

Throughout this process, managers need to be ready for some resistance and some employees may give a less enthusiastic response, especially employees who feel that the whole process involves training their replacements. In fact, employees shouldn’t be made to feel that the company is developing their replacements, but rather they should be made to feel that their jobs are highly critical and therefore there is a need for backup in their absence. Taking regular feedback from team members on all aspects of the cross-training program will be of immense benefit.

Here’s the influential PowerPoint, just in case you are curious!The best backup idea across training……

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