Nothing brings things into perspective like a walk in someone else’s shoes. Cross-training employees will become one of your strongest team-building techniques because it helps employees see the challenges faced by their peers.
If you were a dishwasher and then became a busser, no one would have to tell you that it helps to throw out leftovers, separate glasses and put knives on top. You’d already know how much it helped — and you’d do it, without being asked.
By cross-training members of your kitchen crew, they’ll learn new skills that will keep their jobs from becoming mundane. And, should your line cook calls in sick, you won’t be wiped out for the shift since you’ll be able to rotate your prep cook in to cover the orders.
A busser who’s been cross-trained in the server’s responsibilities can help run orders out to guests and answer questions about the menu. Put them through sales training, as well, so they’ll be able to upsell guests who ask for menu suggestions.
Cross training offers you scheduling flexibility, too. Say you’ve already scheduled all your dishwashers for 40 hours and you still need someone for Saturday night. Instead of paying overtime, maybe there’s a busser who’s looking for some extra hours. By placing employees in different positions, you’ll be able to show them their place in the big picture.
Cross training can also be an important job perk. Your employees will appreciate your efforts to help them increase their job skills – and the opportunity for a promotion. So when hiring, be on the lookout for candidates who have the potential to be cross-trained. It takes a special kind of person to take the initiative to learn a new job. You need to choose carefully because you’re investing time and training in these special people. During the interview, ask employees how they feel about accepting new responsibilities. And push them to elaborate. “Which types of responsibilities would you want to take on?” “What other positions would you be interested in preparing for?” Begin cross-training immediately so when a position opens open, the employee will be ready to start. You cut down on the hiring and orientation costs of hiring someone from the outside.
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