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Aug 24

3 Tips for Cross-Training Employees

By: Lydia Adams

Entrepreneur magazine defines cross-training as the process of teaching your employees the skills and responsibilities of another position at your company to increase effectiveness. This is a great way to avoid some common problems that companies, especially small businesses, face. It saves you money, ensures continuity when you have vacancies, and can be a powerful motivator for your staff. Here are three things tips to help effectively cross-train your employees.

The Process of Cross-Training Starts When You’re Hiring.

When you’re bringing in a new person to fill a vacancy, look for candidates with experience in different areas of your business or those who have participated in a cross-training program in another job. Ask questions during the interview to determine the candidate’s attitude toward learning multiple roles. If they are averse to having multiple roles, they won’t be the best person for your company.

Successful Cross-Training Requires a Plan

Take a look at your organizational chart and decide where cross training makes the most sense . Consider which tasks are most critical to your operation and how they would be covered in an unexpected vacancy. Then, think about who would be the best person to learn those duties in terms of ability and existing skill set. Lay out a budget for costs associated with the cross-training, such as materials, time, and space within your facility.

Communicate Why Cross-Training is Important.

Without clear communication from you, staff members may be unsure or negative. Worries and concerns about positions or people being eliminated an affect morale. Tell your plan to your team well in advance and keep them in the loop.  Your explanation should include the benefits of cross training, not just for the company, but for the employees as well. For example, effective cross training generally makes it easier to schedule time off.

It’s not sustainable for your business to have all of the information about a particular area siloed with one person. Cross training ensures that important tasks get done when someone leaves or is out for an extended period. It’s usually less expensive and more effective than bringing in temporary help from the outside. For guidance in this area, contact UNIM for a custom plan tailored to your business needs.