The Frustrations of a Trainer … and What We Can Do Better!

I hadn’t worked in multifamily housing in a few years. Instead I left and worked with the Dale Carnegie Training Organization, honing my craft and providing training solutions and direction to businesses across the globe. I was, however, eager to get back to my first love… the apartment industry!

Things hadn’t really changed much. On one hand, I was glad because I could get right back into the swing of the “business” without missing a beat, but on the other hand, I couldn’t believe that evolution hadn’t really happened. It was “the same old.”

Upon joining the Sterling family, I developed our all new Intro. to Leasing course in my first month of joining the organization (and 17 other courses since then). The company had lacked any real training prior to my joining the company and it was so welcomed, that I felt a little overwhelmed at its reception.

In our Intro. to Leasing class, I set out to start the evolution, covering some pretty advanced stuff and I’d say that most people haven’t experienced the kind of training I provide. Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here; however, I’ve discovered that our industry “trainers” are usually people who’ve climbed up the property management ladder and who’ve been successful onsite. That’s great … that’s how I started! But, I left our industry for some time and was trained on how to train. I recommend everyone who is involved in training learn more on how to be a trainer.

My decision to leave the business was ultimately me investing both in myself and our industry; and it made a world of difference when I finally did return to multifamily. Not only did it open my eyes to what could be done better in the classroom but it also inspired me to really get creative with what I believe we do poorly after training.

Here’s what I’ve discovered that could use some improvement and what we can do, as trainers:

In training, the learners are excited. They’re fired up, ready to lease and try new things. Then they go back on site, and in most cases and the people who’ve been on the site awhile (Property Managers, I’m looking at you) … have their own way of doing things and that basically discount everything that was taught in training.

So what can we do as trainers?

How about implementing team oriented training mini-classes or webinars? Then, everyone onsite is receiving the same information and everyone is on the same page. It doesn’t have to be long or intensive, but refreshers that are done with the entire team, can be powerful.

Colleagues come to a training class and then their involvement with training ends.

So what can we do as trainers?

A blended training approach can drastically increase both knowledge AND employee retention. But, when doing that make sure that the information stays the same and consistent to reinforcing the learning. It allows those who’ve attended a class to ask questions or share what they’re doing at their sites and why. Also, having an excellent Learning Management System is vital to the success of your training program and remaining connected to the onsite teams.

After training, apart from an immediate survey of their impression of the class/trainer, we don’t do any other follow-up, skill assessment or surveys.

At Sterling, we now do a 30 day follow-up with each learner that includes a leasing workbook (that covers things learned in training) and a leasing self-evaluation, which has them self check their skills and makes them assess if they’re actually doing what’s been taught in the classroom.

In addition, we mystery shop everyone after training. I’m preparing them for the shop by providing great training, reinforcing learning, role playing, dialogue, question/answer, sharing stories, allowing them to share stories and providing an environment that is focused on their success.

Finally, have a training plan for each position. Ours consists of an initial 90 day training checklist and an on-going plan for the year, by position. This keeps training in the forefront of each learners mind (don’t forget maintenance and the corporate/regional offices).

My final recommendations are this: hold learners accountable, give the learners’ supervisors a role in their learning plan and hold them accountable. Follow-up with your learners, provide coaching at regularly scheduled intervals, make sure your content is relevant, invest in an LMS that’s going to help you attain your goals, and finally…

Invest in yourself to become a BETTER and more effective training professional. Merely having been successful in the roles you’re now training others in, isn’t enough.