Monday, February 14, 2011

Five tips for (new) trainers

This week is going to be an incredibly busy one: we have been developing a leasing training program for months, and it's finally kicking off this week. I'm especially excited for this program to launch, as training is a somewhat new responsibility for me professionally. While I've taught several marketing-related classes since joining Dolben, this is my first time developing a full-blown training program.

Over the course of this week, we have two leasing training sessions in New England, two in the Mid-Atlantic, and a Train the Trainer class, so that our internal team can brush up on our training skills. This week's sessions will be followed up with smaller group sessions, and then with one-on-one sessions to review mystery shopping reports and hone in on any issues that might benefit from more in-depth training. We've hired an outside trainer, Heather Blume from Behind the Leasing Desk Consulting, to develop the first round of classes, and our experience so far has been great. Still, during this whole process, I have learned a few key lessons that I thought would be worth sharing with other training newbies out there:

1. There is no such thing as over-planning, or over-communicating. In fact (not surprisingly), I've realized that the more you can address earlier on, the happier everyone is, and the less you're trying to take care of at the eleventh hour. This includes everything from travel arrangements, to technology, to snacks. Similarly, when you're planning a program that touches hundreds of people, proactive communication is absolutely essential. (On that note, I'd suggest sending out "Save The Dates" WAY in advance, even if all of the details aren't 100% concrete. I sent out a notice about four weeks out, and was instantly bombarded with questions and conflicts. If I could rewind and re-do, I'd have circulated preliminary information at least six weeks prior to the training dates.)

2. It takes a village. Or in this case, a couple of committees, comprised of regional managers, property managers, assistant managers, and leasing consultants. Having people with different backgrounds and various areas of expertise contribute to our curriculum has been key to developing a thorough program.

3. Ask for help. If you can get help, do it. I thank my lucky stars that I have an assistant who is, by nature, uber-organized: she researched training venues, coordinated our attendee lists, and fielded questions when I was unavailable to do so myself.

4. Maintain your sense of humor.  There are bound to be glitches and moments of sheer frustration. Roll with it, have a good laugh, and move on.

5. Trust. At the end of the day, I know we've done our research, and have done our very best to plan a quality program with a professional training consultant. Once Tuesday morning comes, the ball is in her court, and I need to trust that she'll put her best foot forward in helping to educate our team.

If you have other suggestions, please share them below. And please wish Team Dolben a happy training!