These days are all about specialization. Companies focus on creating the best of a certain product or offering the best of a certain service. Workers are told that they need to become the best in their niche to be competitive and stand out from the crowd. But specialization may not always be the key to success.
You can – and should – help your employees to gain more skills by cross training them. Many companies overlook this important development opportunity because they focus initial training on gaining laser-specific skills. But there are five reasons why you should be cross training employees if you aren’t already
1. You Get Full Coverage Even When Employees are Out of the Office
Sometimes employees will be on vacation or sick. If you know their time off is coming, you can usually plan around it to get the coverage you need.
But you don’t always know when employees are going to be sick, and if you aren’t cross training employees, you’ll be left with gaps when someone is out of the office.
By cross training everyone, you are ensuring that you always have the coverage you need, no matter who is in the office.
2. Employees with Diverse Skills Will Present More Innovative Ideas and Solutions
Cross training employees teaches them new skills, at a minimum. But the larger benefit you will see is that employees who have a wide range of skills are also able to bring more innovative solutions to the table to help your company grow and succeed.
You never know where the next great idea for your company will come from, and you never know what connections will help your employees get those ideas.
Cross training helps your employees to think faster on their feet so they can come up with smart solutions fast. It also helps them make new connections that can lead to innovative ideas that will set your company apart.
3. Deadlines Will be Easily Met by a Larger Group of Employees with the Needed Skills
You never know when a project will evolve or when your workforce may be impacted by illness or unexpected changes, causing your team to have to scramble to meet a deadline.
Cross training employees means that more of your workforce has the skills that you need to get the work done. When you have taken on a project that is under a strict deadline, your chances of successfully meeting that deadline are greater when you have more employees who can do more of the necessary work.
Take the long view and put in the time to do the cross training now. You’ll ensure that your team is always prepared, no matter what might happen.
4. Employees Can be More Responsive to Customers, Improving their Satisfaction
Ultimately, your customers are your highest priority. Cross training helps all employees be prepared to support customers in one way or another.
What happens when a manager isn’t available? And do you really want to risk continuing to annoy an already irate customer by making employees transfer the person up the chain?
Cross training employees is a far better solution. Cross training ensures that more of your employees have the skills to resolve customer complaints. More employees will be able to handle the problem, such as processing a simple return or making an adjustment to an order, rather than having to transfer the customer to another person who can do the job.
Make sure that you also empower employees with the authorization to handle such issues.
Giving them the skills means nothing if they are unable to execute them. Make sure your employees have not only the permission to make decisions on behalf of customers, but also that they have the access to the software and anything else they need.
5. Give Employees Opportunities to Grow
No one likes to feel like they are stagnating in a job. You need to give your employees opportunities for growth if you want to keep them happy and make your company successful. Unhappy employees are not productive, innovative, or enthusiastic about their service.
Cross training employees gives them new skills that can give them new opportunities within the company and beyond. Gaining new skills will be a strong motivator for employees to always perform at their highest ability.
The more you teach your employees how to do, the more they will be able to grow professionally and support your company’s goals.
Cross training is a win-win proposition for your employees and your company. If you are limited in your time or budget, consider starting small and working your way up from there.