Essentials of Cross-Training Employees

Whether your company is battling against skill gaps or simply needs team members to be able to cover each other’s duties during absences, cross-training is often the perfect answer. When you cross train, you ensure that important tasks are covered, even when someone is away from the workplace. It also gives you additional flexibility regarding the management of your workforce, allowing you to shift responsibilities with greater ease and provide a solution for employee burnout.

Cross-training can be used to cover work associated with nearly any position, as long as the employee receiving the training has the basic skills required to grasp the new concepts. If you need to implement a new cross-training plan, here are the essential steps to getting started.

Identify Critical Tasks

When you create a cross-training plan, you first need to identify which duties or skills need to be covered. This provides your program with focus, ensuring high-priority tasks are addressed first.

Typically, you can do this by examining which responsibilities are only currently managed by one or two employees or where a single absence could derail overall business productivity.

Find Cross-Training Candidates

Once you know which tasks need to be covered, you need to determine which existing employees have the necessary base skills to learn the associated duties. Exactly who will make an ideal candidate varies depending on the specifics of the responsibilities.

For example, an accounting professional could likely be cross-trained into payroll since many of the core principles are similar. However, a web developer might not be able to manage networking activities, as the knowledge base required for these two different IT segments don’t necessarily align.

Be a Cheerleader

After you have the basics of the cross-training program outlined, you need to be a champion for the plan. Some employees may embrace the concept readily while others may hesitate, thinking it will only make their jobs harder or lead to layoffs once the cross-training is done.

Ultimately, you need to reassure your team that cross-training provides them and the company with benefits, including skill acquisition and coverage options. You also need to make it clear that it won’t be used to eliminate positions.

Adjust Workloads

Cross-training takes time and energy, so it may not fit nicely into an average employee’s day based on their current workload. If you want these activities to be a priority, you may need to temporarily shift some responsibilities around so that the worker and trainer have adequate time to complete the program. This ensures that the employee doesn’t view the training as a burden by avoiding them feeling as though they are being overworked during the process.

Reinforce the Training

After the training is complete, you need to make sure that the cross-trained employee has an opportunity to use those skills. Otherwise, they may forget how to accomplish those tasks.

You can either schedule regular refreshers or allow them to manage those duties on a regular basis, though not as frequently as to threaten the primary employee in the role.

By following the tips above, you can create an effective cross-training program that covers all of the essentials. If you would like to learn more, the skilled professionals at Career Options can help. Contact us to speak with one of our team members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.


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