Power up! Cross-training benefits everybody. I’m a true believer in cross-training. In my 25 years managing SBA lending teams and now as a JRB consultant, I’ve seen the benefits of cross-training to individual employees, lending departments, and entire organizations.

Like athletics, cross-training is learning more than one skill set to increase total fitness. Many organizations work in “silos.” People and departments are content in their areas of expertise, but are isolated from the rest of the field. Everybody knows their job. In fact many people see themselves as experts in their area. But do loan processors know what underwriters do?  Are they up on the loan process from application to funding?  Do the people in sales know what your department does?

 Cross-training breaks through silos. Cross-training allows people to collaborate person-to-person and across disciplines, giving everyone a deeper understanding of the organization. In many cases, training employees in different skill sets allows for timely replacements when employees leave, or prepares newer employees for the next step in their careers.

Walking a mile in their shoes. Why it’s important. Cross-training can increase lending team efficiency through better communication and more effective workflow. Understanding the entire process better equips employees to do their jobs. And importantly they can support the next group along the line, anticipating their needs and collecting data and information ahead of time.

In terms of the big picture, let’s use frontline employees as an example. Their training is important because they’re the face of your organization – and its ambassadors. Who better to have a total understanding of how things work?

Cross-training: Approaches. Methods.  Timing. As a manager, I recognized my employees for their areas of expertise and expressed my appreciation for their willingness to share.  I also met with them one-on-one, finding out their goals, hopes and dreams, planning their next steps, and encouraging them to embrace cross-training.

On a departmental level, I introduced cross-training in staff meetings. Skill-set training ranged from interdisciplinary groups to one-on-one sharing. We also covered the organization’s forms, policies and procedures, and the latest SOPs section-by-section, with a goal of covering all forms, policies, procedures and SOPs within each year. When to train? Take advantage of the ebb and flow of your business. When there’s a lull: Train!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our training here at JRB. As a matter of course we help new SBA teams get on board and keep new and experienced lenders updated on new issues and regulations. We update our training modules regularly, with some clients coming back when SOPs change, and three or four times for refreshers.

However you do it, get on track with training. You’ll be glad you did!

Lori McCausland
Senior Associate