Do You Really “Get” Your Coworkers? Try Cross-Training
By Women’s Link Senior Writer, Tracy Benbrook
Nope: Don’t go rush out to buy those fancy new mega-buck cross-training shoes you’ve been eyeing. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about really getting to know the people you work with. Walk a mile in their shoes, so to speak, so you can understand where they’re coming from.
I really believe that when I take the time get to know the people I work with — and what challenges they face every day — it provides a ridiculous amount of benefits, not only to myself and my colleagues, but to the company as a whole.
By learning how someone else does their job, I sometimes discover how to do my own better. I learn how to improve communication between my team and theirs. I’ve even discovered duplicate work ... which we eliminated, saving time and effort.
My favorite thing of all, though, is that I build stronger working relationships — because my coworkers realize how much I respect and appreciate what they do and that I’m interested in learning more.
How to get started
First, discover if there’s an official company policy — if there’s a formal system for cross-training in place, take advantage of it! But even if there isn’t, with a little effort, you can still set something up.
Get your supervisor’s approval — because, obviously, this will be time spent away from your daily tasks! Your boss may even have insight into specific areas to concentrate on or ideas on who to approach. For example, you may be able to contact the individual you’d like to cross-train with directly, or in your company’s culture it might be more appropriate to contact his or her immediate supervisor first.
Initially, it’s a good idea to choose a person or team you work with fairly closely. Let them know what you’re looking to get out of it — a deeper understanding of what they do daily, how they work on specific projects, or to further inter-departmental cooperation. Be sure to be considerate of their schedule and needs. Give them ample time to accommodate your request so they can easily fit the cross-training into their schedule.
Just remember — you’re the guest!
Be sincere in your desire to get to know others. Ask questions — not just about the process, but also if there’s a particular reason why — and be extra-careful not to come across as critical. This is definitely not the time to try to ‘fix’ another department’s processes: you’re there to understand, not to judge.
Cross-training is a great time to learn, to build stronger working relationships, and to discover more about how different departments relate to one another. Walk a mile in their shoes and you’ll get them ... and they’ll appreciate you for the effort. Everyone wins.
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
– Dolly Parton
“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”
– Peace Pilgrim
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