By Younas Chaudhary
In the 1980’s, I hired my first geologist, Dean. He taught me how to find oil, showed me how to drill and produce oil wells, and even perform bookkeeping for my start up business. Dean was a geologist by profession, but he was a jack of all trades.
I often marveled at his thirst to learn, work hard on every task, and hone his understanding of the oil and gas business. I was fortunate to be his trainee. Because of my zeal to get ahead, I learned quickly to operate oil and gas wells.
I miss those days when I worked every day and trained our production department team of engineers and production coordinators on everything from leasing land, to producing oil and gas wells, and to marketing oil and gas products.
With the passage of time, the oil business has specialized to the point that the industry is full of companies with several departments, separate sections and various locations. As a result, employees tend to stay in their lane stuck with a limited range of tasks and content to use a particular skill set and seldom venture out to learn other parts of the oil and gas business.
I continue to encourage my co-workers, especially at our production department, to become well-rounded engineers, and cross-train in different areas of operations, so that they play an indispensable role in our operations. With teamwork and cross training, our business runs more smoothly, consistently and cost effectively allowing us to take more risks and drill new wells.
I cannot overstate the importance of cross training in all businesses, including a complex business-like oil and gas, especially if you are a small or medium size company. Cross training and exposure to several areas of the business increases an employee’s engagement and provides new opportunities for co-wokers to explore different aspects of the business. This eliminates unnecessary silos, enhances communication, and increases productivity as well as the employees’ overall morale. Thus, everyone benefits.
Nevertheless, most business workplaces follow the traditional ways and stay compartmentalized without much interaction. We forget that retaining and cross training are critical to the health and longevity of a business.
Here is why cross-training important at all workplaces:
- Most businesses are seeing a shortage of human talent. Cross training can significantly cut costs in hiring and outsourcing.
- Cross-training provides continuity of work, especially in small and medium companies which usually struggle with a shortage of capable employees.
- Both the employees and the employer benefit from cross training.
- Employees get the opportunity to learn and gain experience in different aspects of the business while the employer gets the benefit of having employees who are skilled in multiple roles.
- Cross-training promotes greater employee engagement as coworkers who have been assigned to specific roles get a chance to learn and explore other areas and find their unique interests, start to notice their hidden talents, and build their careers.
- Cross-training enhances collaboration between different departments and reduces conflict, miscommunications, and doubts about particular roles within a company.
- As talent matures through cross-training, it gives the company the opportunity to promote co-workers internally rather than look at sourcing people from outside.
- Growing long-term, stable, dedicated employees helps ease succession planning for the business.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.