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Increasing Staff Versatility


Currently staff in the area 'Specialise' in particular areas so when another area of a department are busy, they cannot help out. My task is to make the area more 'versatile' so that when areas of the department are busy, staff within other areas of the department can help out. Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can go about doing this?
Howard Pearson

3 Responses

  1. notwithstanding….
    Notwithstanding any union issues you might have or demands for more (or equal) pay you might like to consider the following:
    -does everyone even know what everyone else actually does?
    You could arrange some presentations between areas to explain their roles and methods.

    Next you could have some actual training sessions followed by some shadowing/secondments/jobswaps. You can use the mechanics of these activities to upskill some of your staff in training and presentation skills on top of the immediate goal of multi skilling.

    You could go so far as having folk regularly rotate between areas over a period. (I worked with a manufacturing client once whose staff rotated every 6 hours!)
    I hope this helps

  2. Protocol
    Hello Howard,
    You could borrow an idea from nursing and write some job protocols for each specialist area e.g. When new client rings the first thing to do is….the second thing to do is…. etc. To reniforce this protocol manual you could arrange some job shadowing sessions, where individuals work with a specialist from a different area for a morning/ afternoon. This will help with teambuilding too, as your staff will get to understand what the others do and have more thought about what is involved in their average day.

  3. Rotation
    Setting up a schedule of rotations is a great idea, especially since it will also get staff to re-examine what it is that actually do, as they train one another.

    In a company my mother used to work for (donkeys’ years ago), all the office staff had to complete a brief “internship” on at least one essential factory floor job so that, in an emergency, or in case of a strike, they could keep things at least ticking over and not have to power down the plant. After the internship period, they would revisit that role for one day every how-ever-many-weeks. I understand that the MD used to drive the forklift truck. He loved it, and the regular drivers had a ball teaching the “big boss” how to do something they were expert at.

    One thing, though: team leaders will need to be given a heads-up on how to deal positively with team members who are providing support to “interns”, rather than coming down hard on them because their usual KPIs are suffering. It might even be necessary to revise the KPIs to accommodate that. If managers fail to do this, and if the whole thing remains completely numbers-driven, team members will become increasingly reluctant to participate in the mutual upskilling process and the initiative will die on its feet.

    One possible approach is to appoint champions/superusers in each team, and to ensure that they are supported by management as their role changes slightly to accommodate the new task.


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