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Friday, 03 October 2014 22:14

Cross Training

Cross Training

Cross training refers to training employees in multiple functions across the organization, the benefits of which are many. In order for us to stay fresh in the workplace it is important to learn new things, more complex activities. If we remain static, do the same things over and over again, boredom sets in and it impacts productivity and satisfaction in the work that we accomplish. Seeking change in our personal and professional lives is important and necessary for growth. Employees get worn-out doing similar things over and over again. Cross training is a good way to provide employees with the change they seek in their routine work.

This is a popular concept in exercise. An example of cross training could mean bicycling along with a running regimen. It prevents injury because different muscle groups are strengthened and the variety allows someone to keep a fresher perspective by performing different routines. The same goes for brain activity; performing more creative or “right brained” activity can actually help “left brain” or a logical activity since it allows you to think more creatively to solve problems.

Employee cross training helps managers to circumvent stagnation, improve motivation and rejuvenate departments. Most managers consider monetary rewards the best form of motivation. However, cash rewards and perks are taken for granted more often than not. Employee motivation can only be built and sustained in a professional and unified atmosphere.

From a management perspective, this allows them to have more flexibility in work assignments. If an employee has been cross trained to perform other work and that employee is not available, they could step in and help out. The manager automatically has “bench players” to assist and create team work. This also helps prevent staff from feeling that their work is more significant than the work of others.

This mindset can be reduced through cross training. When an employee works in unfamiliar departments, they will learn to better appreciate and respect their colleagues since they will realize what it takes to perform those tasks. So, besides familiarizing employees with the work of other departments, cross training also improves employee attitudes.

Cross training can sometimes be used as a disciplinary strategy for employees who are lapsing into non-performance. Employees often return from this temporary transfer rejuvenated, and this is reflected in their work.

However, there can be the opposite effect if this strategy is used for negative reasons like sending employees to another department with little notice and no explanation. This could be perceived as a disciplinary action and can demotivate them.

An effective cross-training program has to be a planned process that involves employees in decision making, and they should be given ample time to accept the idea and offer feedback.

Cross training, when conducted effectively, can benefit both the organization and its employees. Employees learn new skills, build teams and management can motivate them without using perks or other financial means of motivation.

At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit or contact us at

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There is a certain gene in the DNA of a project manager that results in a superhero complex.  We are the ones that find leadership voids and itch to fill them.  If there is chaos, we long to tame it.  When things are wrong we strive to right them.  Where there is no org chart…well, you get the idea. 

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Monday, 30 April 2007 09:58

Confrontational Conversations

It was a rough game.  During the week I spend my life as a mild mannered project manager, but on the weekends I turn into an AYSO Soccer Referee.  Unfortunately this time there was trouble.  The blue coach was the one that started pushing my buttons.  It probably started right at the beginning when I informed him that his spectator’s dog had to leave the field.  From then on he questioned everything and generally caused me grief.  I ended up calling both coaches to the center of the field and loudly telling them to knock it off.  It was my first such confrontational conversation as a ref.
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Monday, 19 March 2007 16:50

Beyond the Golden Rule

Sally was planning a big surprise party for Jim. Next week marked his tenth anniversary as a senior developer at Acme Software Company. Sally saw this as the perfect opportunity to recognize Jim. Jim was never in the spotlight and yet he was consistently a strong project team member. Sally was one year away from her fifth anniversary as a project manager with the company and she could not wait for her celebration!


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Friday, 23 February 2007 08:49

PMP VS. Masters Degree

Original Question: One of my friends is going for masters in project management from University of Calgary, Canada. Even though, the reputation of university is first-rate as it is one of the top universities in North America for Project Management. However, UofC is not among the accredited schools of PM from PMI perspective. What is your opinion about non-accredited schools of PMI? In addition, how do you see the graduates from UofC getting jobs in Canada & around the world?

I would appreciate your valuable advice.

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