In business, cross-training sessions, where staff are trained in an aspect of another staff member’s role, can be an overlooked yet essential task. This includes training on new software or a new procedure, and can offer security in case the employee who regularly completes this work becomes suddenly unavailable.
We all know this kind of task, it’s the one that started out in your diary in January and keeps on being re-arranged, moving along to another time-slot every time you need to fit in an extra client or book a last-minute meeting.
So, Why Should We See Cross-Training Our Staff As Important?
This really is obvious, and something we all know, but why should we make it a priority?
- You never know what’s going to happen. The two members of staff who trained up on the software are unlikely to both hand in their notice at the same time but you never know.
If you’re relying on just one member of staff to have a skill, knowledge of a particular process, or perhaps you are a small business with a limited number of staff, then make sure that their role can be covered in their absence.
- It’s easy to label certain business tasks as less important, here at the TwoFeetMarketing office we are guilty of having a few floating diary entries. However, just because a task doesn’t make you money doesn’t make it unimportant.
- It can help promote understanding of other roles within an organisation. That database that Bill spends ages on that looks really easy? If his colleagues have training on it, ideally from Bill, they may have a greater understanding of the complexity of Bill’s role in the company, for example.
Decide if the cross-training of [a staff member] on [a task/skill/process] is necessary/important. Consider, all the possibilities, like you would for insurance, what are all the possible things that could go wrong and have you prepared for them?
For example, what if Jane who manages your social media installs new software to support your digital marketing team but no one else gets around to learning how to use it from her. Jane unfortunately gets hit by a car on her way to school which shatters her arm and leaves her unable to work for several weeks.
You would hope that either her essential work could be shared out among other staff, or you can hire a temporary replacement, or as is often the case in a small business you end up taking on her tasks as well as your own and working extra.
If Jane had taken the time to produce a systematic guide on how to use the software this would be particularly helpful. But the best option wold be that either you, or another member of staff had received training on the software and could just get on with the work in her absence.
Having other members of staff who can use your software or run any process, means that if anything should happen to either yourself or the employee who usually fulfils that role, someone else can step in and reduce the impact on productivity and profits.
It’s important to factor in time for training and one aspect of this is to make sure (along with other necessary tasks) that this time is included in your hourly rates. If training of you and your staff has a dedicated time-slot that is incorporated in your pricing structure, you will find it easier to justify the time away from more productive tasks.
Take healthcare workers for example, they often have dedicated time towards training, whether it’s manual handling or reading journals. You’re a professional and there is always time to learn so take the opportunity and make training and growth a priority for your business in 2017.