Boost morale with cross-training

Cross-trainingRobert Conrad manages restaurants. Supervising a frantic team of exceptionally busy staffers can test anyone’s leadership.

When his employer transferred him to a particularly troubled quick-serve restaurant, Conrad was ready for a challenge. He knew that half the restaurant’s staff was deemed “untrainable” by the outgoing manager, many of them were labeled “spoiled teenagers” and they were each hired to do only one job.

Conrad understood that problems had arisen because the restaurant opened two weeks early and, in a rush to hire support staff, managers had lowered their standards. He knew that he needed to beef up training for the team to perform better.

For starters, he set a goal to cross-train every floor worker on all positions over the next two months. He drafted a detailed schedule with days and times for each individual to participate in on-the-job training, along with his expectations for what skills they would gain as a result.Two months later, he documented each person’s progress in learning to fulfill multiple positions. Abandoning the “aces in their places” strategy where individuals were limited to specialized roles, he enabled everyone to learn from each other and become proficient in a wider range of jobs.

Some newly trained employees became such valuable contributors that they advanced into management. Cross-training didn’t just boost internal efficiency; it also doubled as a professional development tool.

Tough Talks D

Before moving onto another restaurant, Conrad surveyed his team on their training experience. Many said that his willingness to tailor specific goals for each of them helped motivate them to succeed.

— Adapted from “How One Man Leads Demoralized Teams Back To Greatness,” Robert Conrad,