Cross-Training Employees and Empowerment

I’ve been working at my new job in the manufacturing industry for about three months now, and I am learning so much. One of the great things about my job is the opportunity for me to learn different departments within the company, from quality control, to production, to shipping. Today, I was thinking about how great of a thing cross-training your employees is and how efficient it can make your business.

Cross training benefits individuals, the team, the department, and the whole company. Empowering your employees is easy to advocate, but difficult to put into practice. In order to feel truly empowered, you must develop a strong sense of self-efficacy, by experiencing these four parts of empowerment.

Meaning – If your heart is not in your work, and you don’t see a fit between your role and your values, you cannot feel empowered.

Competence – If you don’t believe that you are capable of doing your job, you will feel inadequate and lack a sense of empowerment.

Self-determination – If you feel like you are just following your boss’ orders, having no control over the way you do your work, you cannot feel empowered.

Impact – If you don’t believe you are making a difference within your organization, and contributing, empowerment is not possible.

Now you know what it feels like to be empowered, here are some benefits to having cross-trained, empowered employees.

Understanding the big picture – Knowing not only how, but why things work is the basis of learning. It allows employees to appreciate each others’ work, as well as being more efficient in their own job because they have a better understanding of what is needed and how to best manage their time.

Smooth running business – It makes it easier to cover the absence of an employee or any restructuring. This is especially helpful in the manufacturing business where things need to keep moving, without a drop in service. It can also spur creative ideas and discussions about how things can be expanded or improved.

Staff development – The short term benefit of cross-training is knowing about each others’ work, but an even better long term benefit is possibly unearthing individual talents and interests that aren’t apparent in employees’ current roles. From the company’s perspective this gives you an opportunity to keep employees by giving them a chance to see their potential in a different position within the company, rather than having them find another job. This will save time and money spent hiring a new employee, and could improve the efficiency of your business by having the right people in the right positions.

Cross-training employees has few real disadvantages, other than the possible time commitment, which is minimal compared to the many benefits. It is a win-win for both employee and company.

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