Why Cross-Train Employees?

Imagine you have a critical deal in the works and you’re relying on a certain employee to make a major contribution. When you try to contact this individual you learn they are out sick, or out of town on a family emergency, or even worse, they have given their notice and have already left the company. It just so happens that this particular employee is the only one with some specific knowledge needed to complete the deal. Nobody else has been cross-trained to perform their role.

How Would You React?

Depending on your individual personality, your reaction might range from anger, to fear, to frustration, to panic. Yes, you know you will eventually be able to obtain the necessary knowledge, but how fast and at what cost is another story. Perhaps you even begin asking yourself, “Why me? Why now? How am I going to compensate? Will the client be flexible? Why didn’t we cross-train somebody? Even worse, what is my boss going to say, and will I have a job if I don’t figure out a way to cover this situation?”

Is it too late?

There may well be a tendency to think there is not a way to get through this difficulty. In fact, it is entirely possible you will lose the deal you were working so diligently on. The reality is, however, that you will probably find a way to accomplish the things that are critical, but the cost in manpower, dollars, frustration, and frayed nerves may indeed be high. But, take a deep breath and carefully assess exactly what needs to happen and develop a game plan to resolve the issues.

Been There, Done That

As you read the last paragraph, you may have thought, well duh, I knew that. I don’t doubt you for a minute – we all have faced a similar situation and said we would not be caught again. But that is not the point.  The point is “Don’t Go There Again.” Seriously, why would any of us want to risk experiencing this same frustration (perhaps agony is a better word) again? The good news is that this can be avoided.


Yes, I know you’ve heard this before, but having employees cross-trained is one of the best things you can do for your company. When you cross-train there are multiple benefits:

  • You avoid the disaster we just discussed
  • Your employees are ready to step in when someone is:
    • Sick
    • On vacation
    • Sick of their job and quits
    • Overwhelmed with the workload
  • Savings by minimizing the need for temporary help
  • By knowing something about others’ duties, an employee better understands overall operations
  • When someone is capable of stepping in for another and periodically does so, the opportunity for theft is reduced

So think about where you might be caught short and be deliberate about developing a game plan to cross-train and begin implementing it. The day will come when you will be glad you did. Your small business deserves this protection.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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