Cross Training: Part One: The Why

Yesterday we spoke about the pain of not cross training. Today we begin to elaborate why it is imperative that you cross train.

Cross training is training employees to be knowledgeable in other job functions apart from the main one that they were employed for. It tends to take time and effort but the advantages and benefits far outweigh the cost involved. Cross training is imperative as employees take time off; whether it be for holidays, sick days, personal, professional development etc. When most employees are away; they usually need some coverage. Some; a small amount and some, quite extensive. If you haven’t done so yet; begin by gathering the job descriptions of each team member review them with the individual and determine what has to be done if they are absent for a day and what has to be covered off; if it is longer, one or two weeks or more.


Note also: the act of pulling together the job descriptions alone can be an incredible aid in the future; should a person leave unexpectedly; as not only are you scurrying to fulfil the responsibilities of that person if in-house cross training had not been done, but you may also be looking to hire a temporary person in the meantime. At least with a job description it would be easy to call an agency to have a temporary person with the skills that are required on the job description to fill in quickly. In fact in some cases the person being replaced can train the person and to ensure that all responsibilities on the job description have been covered.


For instance one of my clients; a Controller for a large organization had one of his senior direct reports hand in his resignation and two week’s notice. I was called in to document his responsibilities and all other information about the position. Then write up a job description and a set of procedures for the position; followed my taking over the position until a replacement was hired. Once the person was hired I was to train that person. If that person had not given notice; there would have been no job description and the Controller would have hired me to determine what the responsibilities should have been. This is a longer, more complex process and is much more expensive as well.


I have had many clients call me in to determine the responsibilities of their Accounting Managers and Controllers that had vacated the position without a job description and or set of procedures. I am very well versed in this endeavour; however it is always easier if they had been put in place in the first hand. 

Tomorrow we continue with  Part Two.

Excerpt from Paul J. Calleri’s up and coming book on Management Excellence. Paul J. Calleri is a CPA, CMA of Paul J. Calleri, Chartered Professional Accounting, founder of and entrepreneur.

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