3 Killer Tips for Cross Training Employees

Cross training employees is a practical measure for any growing company, because it helps to expand the skills and capabilities of its personnel. This form of training is usually aimed at employees who were originally hired to carry out only one or two job functions, and possess a very limited set of skills in comparison with other personnel.

The goal of cross training is to is to help single-skill employees develop new skills for other types of tasks which are beyond the parameters of their jobs, thus allowing them to become better assets to their company. This benefits the company by helping its personnel develop the necessary skills to carry out all kinds essential tasks necessary for the expansion of the company. As for the personnel, they develop new skills and qualifications that would later help them advance through their careers.

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3 Killer Tips for Cross Training Employees

1. Cross Training Requires Long Term Planning

Cross training employees is a long term process, and this is because cross training programs require a lot of planning and decision making. For example, the program needs to consider which of your employees are eligible for training, and what type of skills it should teach. Planning these kinds of issues is essential for the long term success and viability of any cross training program.

Aside from planning, the people in charge of the program will also need to ask a lot of important questions:

  •  Is the training open to all your employees or is it available only for certain types of personnel?
  •  Should the cross training program be administered internally or externally?
  •  What are the pros and cons of cross training for the company?
  •  How much research does your company need to implement its cross training program?
  •  How feasible is cross training given your organization present and projected assets?

Aside from planning, your organization will also need to draw up a list of functions and tasks for its cross training program, especially its daily operations. Not only will this help staff members pick out which cross training coverage they need, it can also help participating personnel review what sort of functions and tasks they can learn.

2. Use On-The-Job Methods

Cross training employees can be done in several ways, but the best method is through direct, practical on-the-job training. For example, learning through a supervisor or a on-the-job “buddy” can help trainees learn the practical side of their work, as opposed to just the theoretical aspects. Not only does this make the training process more effective, it also reduces the amount of time needed for practical training, since trainees are given first hand training.

On-the-Job cross training and practice sessions also allow organizations to closely evaluated the progress of their personnel, and examine their performance on a regular basis. For example, managers can examine how well their trainees are doing in carrying out specific aspects of their expanded roles. More importantly, however, trainees will be able to learn through doing, and this helps them internalize what they learn, and therefore, appreciate the importance of their skills to their company’s overall goals and needs.

Take note, however, that using this method will require your organization to instruct its trainers on how to teach others. Cross-trained employees usually need a lot of time in order to absorb information, and this also applies to on-the-job lessons. So if your organization decides to go with this method, be prepared to manage everyone’s workload accordingly. This way, they will be able to focus on their training and practice sessions without feeling stressed out.

3. Gain As Much Support As Possible

Successful cross training programs usually have a lot of support, not only from the trainees, but also from top management. This is essential because without broad support, cross training program will lack the coordination necessary to succeed in the long term. For example, some people will oppose cross training initiatives if they feel that their jobs are in jeopardy. In order to eliminate this concern, the officers in charge of the cross training initiative will need to explain to the affected personnel that the program is not a scheme to cut jobs. As for managers, they need to be convinced that cross training can benefit both the company and the personnel. This way, they will become more inclined to support it.

It’s also worth mentioning that many cross training programs often encounter resistance from employees, because they see it as an added workload. One way to address this concern is to lighten each personnel’s daily workload, so that they will be able to handle their training. Another approach is to offer compensation packages as well as special incentives for those who are willing to participate in the training process. For example, a pay for skill scheme may encourage additional personnel to participate, thus increasing support for the entire program.

Broad support for cross training is important for several reasons. First of all, it ensures the morale of the trainees. Secondly, it helps everyone understand that their jobs are not in danger. And finally, it allows everything to go off without a hitch. In short, by getting everyone’s support, your organization will be able to ensure the success of its cross training policies, and thus improve the capabilities of its personnel.


Cross training is implemented in almost all types of companies and organizations. It is implemented in order to expand the skills and qualifications of existing personnel, thus optimizing the capabilities of the organization without having to acquire new employees. From a cost-efficiency standpoint, this is a very good thing.

Crafting the right employee training manual is a vital for success and gaining better results.

However, it’s also important to remember that cross training is a form of investment, and like all investments, it poses certain risks to the investors. With cross training, organizations are investing in new skills for their personnel. If these skills prove ineffective or impractical in the future then the investment is a loss. So in cross training employees, it’s important to remember the three items mentioned here, as they can help your organization achieve its long term goals.

More useful information is available on employee training articles page for reading.

Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog