If there are certain tasks performed at a business that only one person knows how to carry out, that business has a major problem. By relying on a single individual, regular operations can be interrupted by vacations, sick days, or sudden resignations. And jobs that seem routine or nonstrategic can quickly become problematic and costly. The solution to this problem is to cross-train, meaning that more than one employee is trained on every possible function at the organization. While most companies expect cross-training to happen organically, few have formal programs in place to ensure it occurs. However, it’s important to handle cross-training correctly. If mishandled, employees might view the program as a threat to their jobs and foster unhealthy competition between co-workers. To ensure this doesn’t happen, managers should encourage a culture where employees are rewarded for group successes and each employee understands how specific job functions contribute to the company’s overall mission. Also, it’s important to cross-train for tasks, not for specific jobs, so that employees consider their backups to be supportive, not threatening.
Effective Cross-Training for Organizational Resilience