At a time when flexible work arrangements are rising in popularity, cross-training is the need of the hour, especially for SMBs. And no, we're not talking about exercise.
Imagine that one of your two customer service employees is out of the office for the next 15 days due to an emergency. You cannot postpone customer service until they return. The other employee will need a helping hand while covering for their colleague. This is where cross-training comes into play.
Training every employee for the most crucial business functions—for example, training a salesperson to fill the customer service role—helps ensure that your organization can better meet unexpected challenges, disasters, disruptions, and workforce shortages. Here are some of the benefits of cross-training for every SMB:
Enables employees to learn new skills which helps them take an important role in the organization.
Fosters a collaborative work environment where employees work together and support other during difficult times.
Supports flexible working arrangements as employees cover for each other in times of need.
Keeps employees motivated as they expand their skills, work on new projects, and pursue advancement.
Equips your organization to swiftly respond to market changes, keeping it future-proof.
Cross-training is a win-win for both your business and its employees., however, the success of your cross-training program depends on how well it is designed and presented to your employees. The following tips will help you develop a successful cross-training program that scales with your employees:
Convince your employees
In the beginning, it's common to receive negative feedback to cross-training from your workforce, but don't let that deter you. Some employees may think that cross-training is a euphemism for "more work" while others may just not be ready to pick up a new skill or embrace the change. To address this, it's better to make cross-training voluntary so that your employees don't feel forced.
Encourage interested employees to select courses that are slightly related to their current job responsibilities and focus on how developing new skills can help advance their careers. You can also offer a small incentive or reward to those who participate. Gradually, when employees see their peers learn new skills and assume an important position, they'll also be motivated to do the same.
Identify the crucial skills
Next, identify the skills required to run your most crucial business processes. For instance, if your organization is in product development, then product designing, financial budgeting, and customer service might be some of the many crucial processes. If your organization is an HR Consultancy, recruitment might be one of your vital processes. Discuss with your internal stakeholders to get a better idea. After this, consult with respective managers to make a list of all the skills necessary to this particular process. Once this is clear, you'll be able to decide on the courses, learning materials, and goals.
Choose the best way to present the training
Once the specific courses get finalized, you'll have to figure out the best way to present them to your employees. This involves onboarding the right course instructor, choosing the learning style, and selecting the right delivery platform.
When it comes to learning styles, you can choose from blended and self-paced learning. While self-based learning enables employees to learn at a pace and at a time that is most comfortable for them, blended learning combines online and instructor-led learning to provide a comprehensive learning experience FInally, you need the choose the right Learning Management System to present the courses, an important decision especially now with more employees working remotely.
Organize a practical skill assessment
After your employees complete the course, organize an assessment to evaluate how much they have learned and retained. This way, you'll be able to identify the parts that weren't clear and provide additional training if required. Then allow them to engage with the business process that they were trained to take care of. For instance, if your employees received training to manage customer service, assign a mentor from the customer service department to help them. The mentor can oversee their performance, answer questions, explain the nuances of the role, provide feedback, and evaluate them based on their performance. Offer a training completion certificate at the end of the course to eligible learners.
Make it a point to get feedback from your employees after every training to improve the quality of the training and make it more useful in the future. Sometimes, the course materials may not be engaging, learners may need additional training, or the learning platform may not be user-friendly. You'll be able to able to identify such gaps in the training program only with proper feedback from your employees.
Cross-training will become increasingly prevalent as reports predict that disruptions will become more regular in the future. Cross-training your employees empowers and equips them with the necessary skills to face the challenges ahead.