Training Employees Keeps your Business Flexible
Tips For Keeping
In any company, making employees familiar
with more than one job is critical to developing the business and
dealing with the unexpected.
A sure-fire strategy for coping with
unforeseen circumstances is a cross training program.
One company suffered for years with a
highly paid controller who was a disruptive influence. The
owner was afraid to fire her because she was the only one who
knew the accounting system. Finally, the owner began cross
training another employee and after a few months, that
employee knew enough to let the controller take early
retirement. The result was a healthier atmosphere and
significant payroll savings since the new controller's salary
Learning more than one job gives team members a look at the
whole operation and keeps them motivated. It also saves money and
builds a solid succession plan.
Above all, cross training makes your staff more
valuable and helps ensure that your company will never be held
hostage by employees who regard themselves as "indispensable."
So train your filing clerk to fill in for the
receptionist, train the receptionist to cover for a sales rep and
train one department head to fill in for another.
Here are seven cross training tips to keep your
company in top condition:
Facilitate the buy-in.
training as a learning opportunity for everyone. Ask staff members
for suggestions and feedback.
Help them see the big picture.
descriptions are useful, but they shouldnęt be carved in marble. Let
descriptions cover secondary, overlapping duties. Employees get a
better understanding of the whole process and a glimpse of
opportunities in the company.
Start a lending program.
department borrow an employee from another department to play a role
in a project. Let's say you want to put out an annual report. Allow
a clerk in accounting to help out on that project. It may take only
a few hours a week, but it gives the employee a sense of value,
which is critical to job satisfaction and retention. It also helps
avoid the problem of departments becoming too proprietary and seeing
themselves as isolated instead a part of a process.
Set up a "honcho for a day" program.
performers a one-day training session as a department head. Top
managers and their assistants can cross-train in different
positions. Another technique: When a manager is traveling or
on vacation, let a top employee fill in, rather than automatically
turning to another manager. Having the added perspective of being in
charge even for a little while may help these employees to begin to
think in terms of problem solving, rather than always turning to
managers for solutions. It may also cause employees to have a new
appreciation for what is involved in managing.
Shake things up. Cross training can revive poor performers.
Temporarily moving to a different job or department can cause
warning bells to go off. Often, the employees return to their usual
jobs with a better attitude.
Rotate jobs. Put staff members in other positions for
anywhere from one month to six months. Make them completely
responsible for the jobs, rather than treat them as trainees. They
may complain at first, but you can point out to them that knowing
more than one job makes them more valuable.
Groom for the
Start training successors for key positions while top managers are
still on board. This prevents a succession crisis. Identify all the
positions that are critical to a smooth operation, then train likely
candidates to assume those jobs. After all, you could lose a key
manager without warning, so it pays to be prepared.
A well-planned cross training program can boost
motivation, increase productivity, rejuvenate departments, and
promote teamwork. If it is not a cure for what ails your company, it
is certainly a good start.