After going through the entire employee search, interview and hiring process, it’s time to train your business’ new employee. Typically when someone is hired on a managerial level, they are cross-trained to perform a variety of tasks in multiple roles within the organization. Now it has become common for new, non-manager level employees to also learn skills required for various roles.
While cross-training employees can provide great benefits to any business, there can also be some downsides. Here are a few pros and cons of cross-training employees.
The Advantages of Cross-Training Employees
If there is only one guy in the office who knows how to troubleshoot network issues, what will happen when he’s out for a week with the flu? You might as well close up shop if he’s not there. Having cross-trained employees would be beneficial in situations like this because when Jeff is out with the flu and your whole network is upside down, you’ll have Sarah as a backup. This may also come in handy when a position is vacated. Cross-trained employees can take on some of the responsibilities until the position is refilled.
Every business owner knows that sometimes unexpected disasters just happen. When you need all hands on deck in dire situations, organizations that cross-train will have a better chance of bouncing back quickly from major disruptions.
Cross-training employees can improve the way things are done because team members must understand the process before teaching the new hire the ropes. Sometimes as new employees are trained, they may even see a more efficient way to complete a task because they have a different point of view. It’s a learning process for everyone involved.
Cross-training not only adds value to the business, but also to the employee. When an employee is given more responsibilities, he or she might see it as a manager putting more time and trust into that person’s personal and professional development. Employees might feel as if they have more to offer to the company than they originally thought.
The Disadvantages of Cross-Training Employees
Taking responsibilities away from one employee and passing them onto another employee can break a person’s confidence. It could be even worse when those responsibilities are given to someone who just learned the skills required to fulfill them. Employees might feel as if they aren’t good enough for the job they were hired for, or that they might be easily replaced. Always consider intangible factors like the impact on employee motivation when cross-training your team.
While healthy competition is great for business and production, unhealthy competition can create major conflicts within a company. If employees feel as if their jobs are being threatened, they might go to unethical extremes to make sure they keep their position. It could lead to gossip circulating around the office, employees putting personal problems above their work, and possibly even blackmailing. If word gets out to the public about the internal turmoil, it may soil your company and brand.
Many times, people are not 100 percent satisfied at work as it is. So generally, when an employee assumes more responsibilities, he or she might expect an increase in pay. If one person gets a raise while no one else does and word spreads around the office about it, the other employees might feel unfairly treated. They might begin to feel resentment towards their tasks, manager and maybe even the company.
Loss of Focus
By cross-training employees, you lose specialized knowledge. Cross-training teaches employees a little bit about a lot of things. It spreads their understanding and capabilities over a wide range of skills and tasks. A person who was hired for a specific position who shares responsibilities with an employee from a different role might lose sight of their main focus.
Cross-training employees is not the best tactic for every business. It can have positive effects as well as negative effects. Carefully developing a cross-training program, utilizing technology and keeping your company culture in mind can help your small business reap the benefits of this strategy.