Friday, August 1, 2008

Cross-Training

Are you the type of person who likes to be in control of everything? Or are you more apt to defer to others, delegate tasks, and ask for help when you need it? I think I am prone to try to take care of everything myself, but I do not necessarily think that is the best route to take.

It is a true gift to be able to recognize when you need help and ask for it. I am working on that. I do love to help others, and feel as though I let my team down when I cannot find the answer or fix the problem. Who am I to think my team members might not feel that same way?

Along these lines, I have come to appreciate a strategy which is implemented fairly often in business known as cross-training. If every member of the team knows how to do everyone else's job, there is more cohesion, appreciation of others, and better functionality as a whole. This is not always fun for employees however. Let's take a look at the advantages from their perspective and see how we might be able to make the process more appealing.

I remember I had a boss once who had a button that read "that's not my job". Every time anyone complained about doing something out of their "box", she made them wear the button for the day. It was a humorous yet effective way to communicate leadership. We gradually learned that taking up the reigns for others was positive, ego-boosting, and just plain professional behavior. I rarely saw the button. It just wasn't needed.


One of the firms I work with has an entirely cross-trained department. No one at the firm can tell you which member of that team does what. There are 5 of them, and the work gets done. They are like a well-oiled and fine-tuned machine. They all do it all, and seem to be happy about it. There is one "in-box" for the whole group and one "out box". It is a mystery how they operate. I think they like it that way!

Learning and training for a job you were not expecting to perform may seem daunting, unecessary, or like a waste of your time, but try to see the good in it for you in the process. Perhaps you will gain a skill of use to you down the road. Perhaps you will find the other tasks more rewarding than you thought. Maybe you will be seen as a "doer", and your positive attitude will land you a better position, more referrals, or a raise in pay. I believe that nothing done with pure positive energy is ever wasted. Even as you perform these tasks which may feel uncomfortable, be thinking ahead, and be thankful for your opportunity to shine.





2 comments:

Joe Cubicle said...

Karen,

Very well put. I agree with you. Learning and continue to train in additional responsibilities in the work environment not only helps you, but also assists your co-workers. It also impresses others outside of the organization when they realize that a team, like you said, runs like a well oiled machine.

joshua said...

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