The Benefits of Cross Training Employees

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As seems to happen weekly, my usual coffee and breakfast with a colleague of mine sent me home thinking of something that I really would be remiss to not discuss here. While at basic level I’m a big fan of drinking coffee and eating breakfast, I have to also add that meeting with my colleagues like this gives me a rare multi-faceted look at the world of training, in ways I’d never get from reading other blogs. Today, I want to talk about the benefits of cross training employees, and why it’s something that, if done right, can make all the difference. But before I do this, I must point out that if you want to do cross training, you really have to leave the traditional learning models behind, because using them as a framework for this makes it tedious, stressful and ineffective most of the time. But, I’m here to point out the benefits of cross training employees, not discuss the hurdles which must be overcome in order to effectively utilize it. So, let’s start from the most basic aspect, and go from there. Any engineer, computer specialist or mechanic will tell you the infinite value of redundancy and contingency in all systems. Having backup parts for any function, or parts that can assume multiple functions when one fails, are invaluable to machinery and designs maintaining steady, reliable performance over time, with minimal downtime for repairs. The same can be said for a business atmosphere. A group of business people working together, and serving interwoven purposes would benefit from cross training, because it will enable more than one component to have the skills to solve a problem, if another part is unable. This could be the result of sickness, termination, resignation, any number of things, but the result is calamitous without redundancy. But, it goes a bit further than this basic redundancy, to include temporary redundancy as well. When outside individuals are trained on someone’s skill, even if less so, then they can, when necessary, offer input that may be useful, coming from another source. Two heads are better than one and all that clichéd whatnot. But, let’s take it a step further up, and see that cross training is beneficial also to the team work like of thought you will want to encourage. When various people understand the purposes that others serve from a level of training within that purpose, then they can work to meet those people half way, and vice versa, through sympathetic understanding. This allows teamwork to be a natural, organic thing with everyone more in tune with and sympathetic to everyone else within a group. The benefits of cross training employees are numerous, these are just the biggest most immediate things worthy of note above the rest. Along with these, a strong sense of duty, respect and confidence can be cultivated in a group this way, and it can also be useful for avoiding tedium by occasionally shifting responsibilities among people, so they don’t feel they are in a rut. Cultivating multiple talents is always a healthy thing both physically and mentally anyhow, and mentally sharp, happy and healthy people are going to perform far better than others, of course.
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog