In many companies, big or small, the need for cross-training employees is critical. In small companies especially, employees must complete many different tasks. There is a ton of learning required. Some business owners would say they need a “unicorn” to fill the spot.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a unicorn as “something unusual, rare, or unique.” In recent years, organizations have touted the famous unicorn employees as “magical.” They can take on multiple roles and do it well.
I also believed that it took a particular skill or understanding to become a magical unicorn. This idea completely went out the window when my firm grew, and I had to equip and re-skill our entire team. As much as I love unicorns, the truth is they simply do not exist. People need two things to thrive: time and a proper system. Don’t get me wrong – we do not have the same gifts, talents, or natural inclinations, but, if taught, we can learn almost anything and rise to a high level of proficiency. Most humans want to feel good about what they are spending their lives doing. When the employees become experts, they serve clients well, AND there is a general sense of accomplishment. As leaders, bosses, or even managers, we can teach someone to become that expert.
MOD Ventures serves clients from various industries, including healthcare/wellness and high-level technical professional services. As we have grown, we have learned to balance everyone’s needs. We manage tension. The most effective way we have managed the tension between all the parties is through cross-training. Setting up an environment where cross-training happens requires an extraordinary level of systems and planning. The larger your organization, the more detail is needed.
One of the things we have done to help our employees operate in “unicorn” mode is standardized our service lines. For instance, each service line of the business has the following:
Our payroll services, sales taxes and accounts payable have a complete guide on how to provide these services at MOD Ventures. When a client joins our firm, we build out all the client information and preferences from day one and add to it as we learn more. We continuously look for ways to reduce ambiguity via continuous improvement.
These systems and processes are pretty extensive, but a staff person rarely is unsure on the “what and how to do.” The systems are the same, and therefore the cross-training is easier. All that is left is to learn a client’s preferences. Now we can manage staff PTO, client requests, and dedicated due dates with planning and ease. Now that is magical!
As a business owner, I recognize that this is the consistency that the team needs and the client expects. By standardizing our service line processes, our organization can begin to predict specific outcomes. Furthermore, these systems and processes produce employee experts.
If you want to know more about how to create a magical experience for your employees, clients, and your company, just reach out!