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Recommendations From A Top Training Company CEO To Expand Your Strategic Reach

CEO of AllenComm since 2003.

Are you making use of cross-skilling to create agility within your organization? Cross-skilling lies at the intersection of upskilling and reskilling processes. It is a training strategy that creates fluid, dynamic teams by training employees with the skills to perform tasks adjacent to those needed to function within their role through use of a jobs task analysis. It develops the capability and flexibility of employees, who are empowered with an expanded set of skills and additional confidence.

As the CEO of a top training consultant company, now more than ever, I would recommend building a strategic plan to develop your internal talent pipeline to proactively manage change. Learning and development professionals currently have a great opportunity to have a positive, proactive impact on their organizations by adding cross-skilling training to their programs. Consider investing your time and resources into the development of an internal jobs task analysis to guide future training initiatives.

How? When your team is ready to add training content that cross-skills employees to take on additional responsibilities, there is a recommended path to follow.

As your team begins implementation of cross-skilling training within your organization, expect to pass through these five stages of development. As a training consultant, I recommend these five stages as a roadmap that learning and development professionals can follow to enhance effort and outcomes.

Stage one: Begin with a jobs task analysis. In each role, there is likely a continuum from competency to the types of skills—including critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making—needed to provide an outcome, such as an effective customer experience. Prioritize desired experiences rather than tasks as outcomes to develop a training that will empower employees with the skills and capabilities they need.

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Stage two: Identify the experiences that overlap within teams and between roles that are adjacent. Take care to catalogue a listing of dependencies, or the steps that must occur to facilitate an outcome. It’s often useful to think about the dependencies using a horizontal framework as compared to vertical framework. (Horizontal experiences occur in tandem, or side-by-side in time. Vertical experience is more like a ladder, with steps before and after in a sequence.)

Stage three: Prepare your skills matrix (and design strategy) with competency overlaps clearly delineated. At this stage, it’s critical to remember that cross-skilling is meant to increase competencies and develop agility, not disenfranchise employees overwhelmed by information they don’t need and won’t use. Simply put, you don’t want to de-motivate by overtraining. Instead, incorporate experience-based training grounded in these competency overlaps to help ensure engaging, effective learning.

Stage four: Develop content around identified commonalities and overlap in adjacent skill sets using the latest instructional design principles. Make sure learning is built around core concepts, referents to contextualize skills and performance support to enhance retention and serve as a practice resource and guide on-the-job.

Stage five: Gather feedback and make iterative changes when needed. Your learning strategy and cross-skilling initiatives are only going to be effective with buy-in, and as a result of the information shared by your subject matter experts. It is important to consult with management and your internal teams to ensure learning content is useful and impactful.

These stages offer a framework for the progress of cross-skilling initiatives. There are also tools and templates that may be used along the way. Some of those include:

• Job scan

• Competency model

• Functional job analysis (FJA) model

• Position analysis questionnaire (PAQ)

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• Fleishman Job Analysis Survey

All of the methods above have a degree of value and could be used most effectively based on need, context and available resources. Each also serve as a reference point to begin the necessary dialogue.

While there is much more to explore about each method, the stages outlined provide the process necessary to reassess and determine the right course for your jobs task analysis—whichever method you choose—and the resulting cross-skilling initiative.

The important point to remember is that cross-skilling can help you develop your internal talent pipeline and is a key strategic initiative for organizations looking ahead to manage change.

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