Editor’s Note: Lee Schwartz is principal at the Schwartz Profitability Group. He will be blogging occasionally for MDM on the topic of distribution operations. His blog will be presented in a Q&A format. If you have questions regarding operations for Schwartz, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Schwartz at the bottom of this blog.
Question: Have you received your operational cross-training?
Answer: In sports, cross-training is defined as an athlete training in sports other than the one that athlete competes in with a goal of improving overall performance.
For those who have followed my blog, you may have noticed that I use sports analogies a lot. With two sons in the NFL, it's just a given. But because of that, I have seen the benefits of being able to play multiple positions.
In business, it is no different. Whether you are a manager looking to improve productivity in your department or you have a personal goal to ascend to higher levels within your organization, cross-training can be the answer. From a business perspective, cross-training can:
- reduce employee turnover,
- demonstrate to staff that the company cares about employees’ career growth,
- increase productivity,
- improve morale,
- fill and smooth voids created by absences and vacations, and
- reduce costs.
From a personal point of view, learning skills outside the usual responsibilities of your job demonstrates to management your flexibility, dexterity and willingness to grow. Imagine knowing the tasks involved with receiving, pick and pack, replenishment and shipping instead of just any one of these responsibilities. Your value to the company skyrockets.
Bottom Line: In today's business world, the reality is that many companies have downsized through the recent rough years, expecting the bare bones staff to handle more responsibilities. If your company does not have a formal cross-training program in place, there is no time like now to put one into place. From a personal perspective, let your supervisors know that you are ready, willing and able to assume additional responsibilities. My son just signed a multiyear, multimillion dollar contract because he can play four positions.
Lee Schwartz, former CEO and president of distribution and manufacturing companies, is principal of the Schwartz Profitability Group (SPG) that, for almost 13 years, has uncorked the operational bottlenecks of distribution and manufacturing companies, boosting their bottom line results. His consulting and operational turnaround work helps clients find solutions related to process improvement, supply chain management, inventory control, workflow design, and operational performance.