How to Cross-Train Your Team (Easily!)

We’ve all met the type: that one go-to person at the company that’s been working there for forever and knows how everything is done. For every question, they have an answer, offered in varying levels of grumpiness depending on the time of day or volume of questions asked that day.
And then, on one fated day, they call in and say they have a family emergency and will be out for at least two weeks.⚡ And those two weeks are chaos, as everyone tries to get by without that one person’s institutional knowledge!
It’s a scenario that no business wants to face, yet it’s a reality many overlook.
Thankfully, this is a problem that has a solution, and it may come as no surprise to hear me say that it comes down to process; and in classic problem-solving fashion, it can be boiled down to a simple 3-step process! 📋

1️⃣ Step 1: Define Your Recipes

The foundation of any successful cross-training initiative lies in the initial documentation of your key processes, or as we more lovingly refer to it, “defining your recipes.”
This involves identifying the tasks and activities that only a select few team members currently handle. The goal here is to extract this valuable knowledge from individual team members’ heads and document it in an accessible, standardized format such as a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
By capturing these instructions, you ensure that essential tasks can be carried out, even when the primary executor is unavailable. Whether it’s sending invoices, handling support tickets, or executing specific workflows, having documented procedures in place is crucial for maintaining operational continuity and transparency.
🎯 For some inspiration, check out our recent video on How to Write Work Instructions (SOPs) by DISC Personality!

2️⃣ Step 2: Personalize and Share the Recipes

Once you’ve documented these processes (AKA What you do and How you do it!), the next step is to standardize this knowledge and make it available to other team members. This phase involves transferring knowledge from the sole knowledge-possessors to potential knowledge-backups.
This process should be approached as a collaborative effort, encouraging the new learners to contribute to refining and improving the documented procedures to ensure maximum clarity. This is often best done with a structured approach of demonstration, joint execution, and yes, asking questions, to make sure the information is easily understood by anyone who can access the SOP.
🎯 More Context: Check out our video for some more tips on How to Write an SOP Efficiently for Your Small Team.

3️⃣ Step 3: Establish a Practice Schedule

The final step to a successful cross-training plan involves setting up a regular practice schedule for the backup individuals.
This proactive approach ensures that team members regularly engage with the documented processes, maintaining their proficiency and readiness to step in when required.
By incorporating practice sessions into the team’s routine, you reduce the reliance on a single individual and distribute the workload more evenly. This approach also instills a sense of accountability and preparedness within the team, fostering a culture of resilience and adaptability.

🛎 Conclusion

Building this simple resilience within your team is not just a competitive advantage but arguably a necessity. By implementing a structured cross-training plan, you can safeguard your operations against disruptions caused by unexpected absences, departures, or whatever else life randomly throws at you! 🤪
So, take the first step today– Identify the critical processes within your organization that could benefit from cross-training. Document these procedures, share the knowledge across your team, and establish a regular practice schedule to ensure preparedness for if when you need someone to fill in for someone else.
Remember, investing in cross-training isn’t just about mitigating risks—it’s about empowering your team to thrive in the face of adversity!
DIY this approach by subscribing to our YouTube channel, or seriously speed up your learning journey by enrolling in ProcessDriven Foundations™! Our signature program guides you through every step of this journey (and SO much more!) while giving you personalized support and swipe-ready templates to save you the trial-and-error!
We’ve already worked with 1,700+ teams on this journey and we think the results speak for themselves. Heck, you can even take what you learn in Foundations and cross-train your team on it! 😜

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ProcessDriven helps small teams turn chaos into process. The ProcessDriven Approach™️ combines software expertise with practical process-first strategies that have helped 1,600+ teams build a scalable foundation of business systems.