The training process is the beginning of a relationship between your organization and its property manager. It’s also the beginning of a relationship between your organization and its customer. In an aggressive industry divided amongst competitive properties, the relationship between the company and its property management team makes a difference in your company’s performance.
Customers and potential customers sense which multi-housing organization focuses on training as a regular part of the management and employee relationship. Customers and potential customers become comfortable or confused based on how they’re treated. It’s all about training.
The power of quality training can be breathtaking. New property managers base their first impressions of their jobs, and decide whether they can succeed, on the basis of expectations set within training. The entire recruiting process is deemed a success or failure based on training results.
What begins as training given to employees becomes training received by employees. In other words, management always designs training based on what they want to accomplish and when they want to deliver information to their employees. Management often fails to recognize that training is all about the employees and what they see, hear and perceive throughout training. Planning a training class before it begins is a small first step toward alleviating the mistakes so often made. Training gives employees knowledge that they will use in the industry. Trainers must view their training from their students’ perspective rather than from their own perspective.
Training may be segmented into various stages. New hire training is the most important program. New hire training is the time where management has the opportunity to gain their property management professional’s trust, or not. Residual training is essentially a downplayed aspect of training. Many management professionals believe once they have trained employees, those employees can sink or swim on their own. They forget that residual training sharpens skills. Small one-on-one sessions, group workshops and e-learning seminars should be mixed together to foster a clear training methodology.
Training is also segmented within the multihousing industry. There’s computer training, product training, telephone communication training, property training and competitor training. Each piece is critical to performance.
So what training techniques should management subscribe to in multihousing?
The following is a primer to help your organization train new employees:
Don’t assume your employees understand what you understand
Your organization’s brand in the industry is probably multi-faceted. Don’t assume your employees understand the relationship between your brand, the industry and your customers. There are four key areas that your new employees need training on. You simply can’t forget to train your employees on the following:
- Interaction with customers, both in-person and over the telephone.
- Product, properties and services your organization offers.
- The audience the new employee will interact with, i.e. customer and potential customer.
- The organization’s history, mission and corporate structure.
Understanding these four segments bring success or failure. The interaction with customers is a personal channel of communication between the company and the public. The product, properties and services offered are areas the entire business evolves around. The audience the new employee will interact with, i.e. customer and potential customer is the central point, customers initiate interaction and require assistance.
Who are these people, and what makes them tick? The organization’s history, mission and corporate structure is the backbone that provides employees with credibility. It defines the organization’s core. Your employees may or may not know this. Explain it to them.
Ensure employees understand they represent your brand
Management makes a critical training mistake when they fail to see their employees as the communicators of the corporate brand. Who has more interaction with customers, the CEO or the plethora of property management professionals who receive emails and telephone calls from customers, and prospects on a daily basis? Training must impart what the corporate brand is, how it was developed, why it exists and where it’s taking the company. Most importantly, corporate brand must express to customers why it benefits them most. When property management professionals can’t articulate their corporate brand, the corporate brand is meaningless.
Instill a sense of company culture into training
If management professionals successfully believe in the corporate brand, they also need to believe in it’s corporate culture. Culture provides the motivation and desire to succeed.
Employees will work an extra hour, stay on the telephone an extra minute, and help peers complete projects if the corporate culture encourages them to do so. When property management professionals believe in the company culture, they express that belief to customers. They do just a little more because leadership has trained them to do so.
Train employees on what you expect and how they’ll be evaluated
Management is so focused on getting the job done well that they sometimes forget to tell employees exactly on what they’ll be judged. Then, they forget to show them. Employees emerge from training with general ideas on what their objectives are, but less of an idea of what will earn them praise, awards, raises and a promotion. Training sessions fail to define what allows an employee success within the corporate structure. Management also often forgets to show the management professionals exactly how performance evaluation occurs.
For example, monitoring phone calls or auditing records may involve forms and third parties. What are those forms? What requirements do they list? Who are the third parties listening to calls? When are those forms issued?
In a vast majority of instances, employees work to improve themselves and their standing at work. Therefore, employees need to understand what they’ll be judged on, when they will be judged, and how the judging will affect them.
Ensure residual training is implemented after new hire training
A common perception is that training begins and ends once the new hire training period is completed. This is where employees are lost. Consistent and detailed residual training sessions, give employees the skill sets and the confidence to improve at levels beyond the practical day-to-day work level. Management should institute classroom training followed by onsite training, followed by more residual classroom and onsite training, continually for each employee regardless of experience level. Training does not stop after the new hire leaves the classroom. That is when training begins.
Don’t train employees on everything in the beginning
Training management professionals is a balancing act. Do the employees need to know everything about what they do, or just enough to get the job done? Too much information clutters the mind, and the critical information fails to take precedence. Therefore, first train property management professionals on the most important 10-30% of the information they need to perform. Train them on everything they need to know to get the job done, not everything they might want to know. The want to know category can be presented later during those critical residual training sessions.
For instance, initial property management training can be divided between the most important and least important topics regarding product knowledge, customer communications and property information. After the initial training and experience working as part of the team, the less important yet valuable training on product knowledge, customer communications and property information can come. Typically, after employees receive the most important 10-30 percent, they’ll work on their own through their daily applications and discover much of the remaining 70-90 percent.
Teach employees to communicate with customers
Onsite professionals are the first and most powerful link with customers. Therefore, management must design a training program that introduces the basic and advanced elements of telephone and personal communications. This includes training on sales, customer care and communication skills. Training platforms frequently present facts, questions and answers, without introducing the communications skills required to articulate these facts, questions and answers to the customer. Failure to train on the how leaves a big gap.
Dedicate a training person to lead the process
It is sad but true that many organizations do not have one dedicated trainer that conducts or oversees training. Instead, they delegate training to a supervisor who has other duties, a manager who may not be prepared to conduct training and therefore delivers a poor class, or a part-time trainer who also serves as an onsite professional. An organization that takes pride in its staff must have a training structure. The key mistake is treating training as the least important part of the organization. This is because management does not see immediate revenue payoff from training. The irony is that training is predominately responsible for facilitating employee success and profitability of a community. An organization’s success is based on the strengths of field employees. How management professionals view their company, brand, corporate goals and the value they place in their customers defines the company’s success or failure. Training must be made a key priority for the company to achieve success in the long run.
If your competition believes in training and your organization does not, your competition has the advantage. If your employees consistently get residual training in a structured training process, your company has the advantage. Has your company made a commitment to training?
Author: Dan Coen