What is Cross-Training?

Cross-training opts to teach you more than your area of scope.

  –  Sabira Ranjit  –

Learning is a continuous process that everyone must embrace for their growth. Training and cross-training help us to enhance our knowledge or to gain more knowledge of different skills. When we are saying training is important to keep ourselves updated, learn new stuff, and gain more knowledge, cross-training is even more important. Keep on reading this article to know why it is especially important in Nepal.

Let me start with the job seekers. Every HR manager faces moments where CVs confuse them. The random CVs that we get make it clear that our applicants are not sure what they want to become. More CVs forwarded to HR are irrelevant to what the employer looks for. Yet, the applicant does not understand the value of properly designed CVs and career growth.

This issue has been seen even in the people already holding a position in a management team. As we say “Child is the father of the Nation,” or “Child is the necessity of the Nation,” but where would the nation go if the child is not aware of the things he has to do to take the nation to next level? We are talking about training and even approaching different industries including schools to make the employee or children aware of the career consequences. Fresh graduates, while beginning a career do not decide or know what their destination or aim would be. They will accommodate themselves wherever they get a chance. Every person will have different skills in them. Being able to self-evaluate might make it easier for them to utilize their skills.

Training must not be done for the sake of formality. The assessment of the need must be done before conducting training or participating. There are many training centers that we can personally approach for ourselves as well. Since we have already discussed that many of the applicants are not sure what they want to become. The need of gaining knowledge of a career seems to be required since schooling. So, the pass-out children will choose their further qualification in their desired field. They can relate the things they have studied to practical. Studying would be easier once we know that in the future these principles would be applied in our work. But many of us choose our colleges because of our parents’ or friends’ lead.

I have come across people who bear master’s degrees yet do not know how to construct a CV and where their knowledge would be applicable. Most of them will say that they need a job and upon questioning what kind of job they seek, they will simply reply with any available. Isn’t it ironic?

Many employees will just spend their lifetimes working here and there or where they find their comfort zone. In Nepal, still many parents forced their children to work in the factory where their three generations already worked for. They do not allow their children to even have a dream of a future career. This is not a myth, this currently happens in every other province probably except the capital valley, however, there are no such statistics in this regard.

Educational institutions must stop forcing students to just only get the certificate of studies completion but produce a better human for the nation. Many principals of educational institutions just laughed at HR when they approach them with the proposal of a “career orientation” program. Some of them even said to charge the student directly. Isn’t this their responsibility to educate the students on a career? However, some educational intuitions have shown much interest in such topics.

Few people are concerned about their careers, they are found to be the ones who nominated themselves to the training calls by the L&D department. They showed interest to find out what relevant training is there. They opt to keep themselves updated and motivated. This is where appraisal must be done by managers. With appraisals, managers will be able to develop IDP (Individual Development Plan) for his/her employees.

What will happen if we suddenly realize the profession, we are having is not what we want to become? One might realize an interest in herself/himself is something else rather than his/her current work. In this case, with the help of cross-training, we can change our profession. This will save us time and do not need to start from scratch. Sometimes one department works closely with other like HR and finance. So, HR might want to have a cross-training to finance department, so it would help him/her in work. Or the reservation team might show interest in the sales & marketing department. Cross-training opts to teach you more than your area of scope. Let’s discuss more benefits that cross-training provides.

Retention: Management must try to cross-train staff if we see their skills relevant to any sector. This will help in the retention of staff as well. Cross-training is the technique of preparing employees to perform duties that go outside of their typical responsibilities or to work in multiple different jobs. For instance, cross-training could be used to teach someone who works in collections how to work in billing and the other way around. Sometimes, they may perform better in the cross-trained field rather than in their allocated duties.

This way instead of terminating the contract we can retain staff, train them and make them efficient enough for work. Companies must provide an opportunity for all their employees to have to cross-train. This creates workforce sustainability. Managers may let them explain how the cross-training might help in their current job.

Reliever: Providing cross-training to employees helps companies to manage the workforce during absences. No work will remain pending in such a way. Every staff will get an opportunity to learn more besides their regular job. An employee who goes on vacation or leave will not be disturbed during their holidays as their work will be taken care of by their colleagues. This is called work-life balance. This produces more collaboration among colleagues. Colleagues will remain engaged with each other. The employee can take their annual leaves and the company doesn’t need to pay their balance leaves which saves the expenses.

Opportunity: Incorporating different skills may have lots of benefits. During the lockdown, many people change their professions and help themselves to survive. Most people tend to work online. Cross-training can help us to adjust and survive with new knowledge and grab the opportunity too. Knowing we can change our department or industry as per situation, demand, and desire. Besides, employees can relieve other colleagues in their absence which improves productivity and efficiency.

Succession Plan: Having cross-training in place, a company doesn’t need to outsource staff if they are short staff. We can provide the opportunity to cross-trained staff and allow them to have overtime as per their wish if they are willing to take on the work. Sudden leave of an employee will not bring hassle to the company. Till they fill the position, cross-trained staff will hold up the business. This makes the company more agile. Internal hires will be easier if most of the employees are cross-trained. It will be beneficial for the company to raise the salary of existing staff rather than placing new hires which could increase expenses.

There would be disadvantages of cross-training as well which are correctable. Poor management of cross-training could produce more generalists. There might be a conflict in obtaining internal promotion. However, cross-training must be done during employees’ off hours. This shows their determination. Receiving department also must make training plans and allocate knowable staff as a trainer.

In summary, cross-training is a learning protocol rather than our main job. The intention is to develop specific knowledge. Including cross-training in your conditioning program may help your performance in several ways.

Ranjit is a Hospitality HR professional.

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