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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cross Functional Degrees takes Cross Training to the Next Level

It is extremely important for different job functions to cross train within an organization.  Cross training strengthens an organization in many ways.

  1. It allows team members from different departments to bond and develop working relationships that can benefit their current day to day work.
  2. It allows team members to learn how to strengthen and improve their communications both generating better requests and providing more accurate detailed responses as the two sides learn more completely the needs of their counter parts.
  3. It allows both sides to understand more fully the capability of the other side and find information and help where they did not know that it existed before.
  4. Cross training provides the ability to provide more back up potential if a team member is suddenly removed from the team due to an emergency or realignment.
  5. Cross training even helps the rest of the team learn the job duties and requirements which will help when it comes time to perform team interviews to back fill these or related positions.

Sometimes cross training can be taken to an entirely different level.  Businesses often find that team members with a cross section of fundamental education and background can bring new levels of insight into company problems.  Many different cross sections arise when say an Engineer starts to get involved in product marketing and can design better products after learning how to connect with the product design requirements that are verbalized by consumers to the marketing department.  Similar combinations between Sales and Engineering, Accounting and Engineering, Accounting and legal, Marketing and Customer Support, Marketing and IT, Accounting and IT, and Sales and IT are all great examples.

So What do you do if your company doesn't have the time to promote a cross training program?

Well you can target gaps in the organization and seek additional education for yourself.  You might even be able to utilize a companies educational programs to seek a second degree or possibly an advanced degree in a new field that  will support or develop your skills in a new area. 

Maybe you have a background in Customer Support and realize that if your company could get the message out to consumers more effectively, the customer support process could be dramatically improved.  So you might consider a marketing degree as a means of learning what it takes and how it might be done to get things started. 

A Few of the Benefits

  1. A bachelor's degree is cheaper than a Master's degree.  
  2. A Bachelor's degree can provide you the fundamental education in that field that might benefit you more than trying to obtain an advanced degree that cross trains you in the field. 
  3. Depending on your existing credit hours, you might only need to take a couple semesters of work to complete an additional degree.
  4. You might be able to audit the courses and get a great deal of benefit from participation and study while making the determination of whether or not this path will truly be a good fit. 

Sometimes testing the water can be very practical before jumping in all together.  Why get an advanced degree focused on Marketing when you don't know the first thing about marketing to begin with?  You have to learn to crawl before you can run and a bachelor's degree costs significantly less and has easier demands as far as time is concerned.  This could therefore make it easier to complete a program online and still get a significant amount of return on your investment.