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Big Ideas for Small Business: Cross Training Your Staff

Aug 7, 2008
You already know it takes superpowers to run a business. You have to be a mind reader and a fortuneteller, and have the ability to be in 10 places at once. But even the greatest super hero needs back up. Cross-training your employees is the key. This article is designed to provide you with tips for cross training your staff so you relieve pressure by giving every employee the know-how to meet customer expectations that live up to your own. Specifics may vary from person to person; however, the following information includes helpful and important guidelines from which everyone can benefit.

The numbers are in, and the bean counters are smiling: Cross training does save money. Employees profit from learning new skills while keeping boredom at bay. They're more motivated, feel more valued and that means they're more likely to stay put. Your organization profits from productivity that reflects on your bottom line. Need any more motivation than that? Here are five signs it's time to call for back-up - and give yourself a break:

1. When the neighborhood kids set up a lemonade stand, you ask for a P&L Statement.
2. Your idea of exercise if right-clicking.
3. You fall asleep to the "pings" of incessant emails.
4. You tell your kids to go play in their cubes.
5. Your favorite fruit is blackberry.

Seriously, though, relieving some of the pressure your experience at work can do amazing things to your productivity levels. It seems strange that getting rid of work actually lets you do more work! But how do you know which projects to delegate and to whom you should delegate them?

Cross-training your staff sometimes seems like it requires cross-training shoes to keep up. Nothing tests your endurance more than having to set goals, schedule briefings, monitor progress, etc. Are your employees up to speed on the latest company projects, proposals and projections? Regularly scheduled meetings eliminate the guesswork and are an integral component to any cross-training initiative. They break down department barriers and build up teamwork. Keep meetings short, sweet and to the point (hey, some pizza wouldn't hurt either). Here are five quick tips that will help you schedule successful meetings with your employees:

1. Establish a place to meet and make sure everyone's informed
2. Prepare an outline
3. Create takeaways
4. Arrange to have any electronic equipment you may require
5. Use the right products to enhance presentations

Attending meetings is a way of life in almost every business, large and small! Making the most out of every meeting by planning ahead, sticking to a time limit and a schedule will help everyone stay on track!

Your cross-training efforts can also pay off big time with a united vision your customers will notice. Cross-training gives employees cross-functional expertise but - can they deliver your message persuasively? Presentation skills are fundamental and every dynamic one begins with the question: What's the purpose of this presentation? Is it to inform? Motivate? Sell the audience on an idea? From there, establish a structure with a logical flow for a presentation that's ready for prime time. One of the keys to making any presentation as dynamic as possible is proper planning. Here are five things to keep in mind as you teach your employees how to develop a great presentation:

1. Define your intentions
2. Know your audience
3. Collect as much information as possible
4. Build structure into your presentation
5. Practice, practice, practice
About the Author
Sharon Mann is President of the I Hate Filing Club, a group of nearly 100,000 office professionals who hate filing but love finding new ways to become more organized. Learn more about how cross training your staff can help you be more productive - visit our website and sign up for the Big Ideas newsletter.
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