Is all knowledge useful the moment you get it? What about being useful within a time frame even close to when you learned it?
In my almost 18 years of schooling, there were a few things the educators-that-be made me learn because I would, "need this someday." To this very day, the only times I've ever needed to know what a stamen was or that gerunds usually end in "ing" are limited to high school Scholars' Bowl and later, bar trivia, which is similar to Scholars' Bowl, but with more hostile arguments over the legitimacy of Star Wars trivia. And don't get me started on the unlessness of Calculus. That was just an excuse to damage my GPA and fry my brain.
When we are starting a new employee, it can be really tempting to "info dump" on them because we want to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. The problem with this approach is that it really not only does the employee a great disservice, but also doesn't do you a heck of a lot of good either. People can only absorb so much information at a time in any given learning environment. On top of the absorption rate, there is a diminishing rate of retention - ranging from 60% to 20% - meaning that even if you give them all the information, they're not going to remember it all. As a trainer or manager, it's important to prioritize what you're teaching people, because in the first month of employment, not all information is essential.
What's essential the first week?
- How to properly answer the phone - Far and away, this is the first thing I teach leasing consultants. In a day of property management, I never know what's going to happen from one moment to the next, so at least this way I can have confidence that when things start moving quickly, at LEAST my new hire can answer the phone, and knows how to screen my calls, not just putting them straight through.
- Fair Housing Introduction - They need to at least know how to stay out of trouble on the phone. This is not too hard or time consuming to teach if you hire people with common sense and you try to avoid just filling that chair with a warm body.
- The proper way to meet and greet potential residents and current residents - This one is a MUST DO! I always start by explaining to them that a bad customer service experience in the current market can cost us anywhere from the price of a turn ($4500) to the price of a year long lease ($26,000). I've found that by explaining what's at stake makes a BIG difference in the attitude that they display with residents, even before they understand concepts like how important resident retention is.
- Work order taking basics - Make sure they know to get a daytime phone, the unit number, the problem and PTE. You can build on it with more information later, but that should give them a good even footing right off the bat. And explain the importance of Permission To Enter in a way that makes them care, such as how we don't want to be trespassing into people's homes.
- Your company's P&P Manual (Including code of conduct and dress code) - Code of conduct and dress code are two of the biggest P&P issues that arise during the first week of work, so make sure that you address these right off the bat. One of the companies I worked for had a Product Knowledge and Policy Knowledge sheet that you had to fill out. This a good way to get your employee acquainted with the manual, and to make sure that they read at least the important points in it.
Remember, anytime you're doing a quick training, your real goal is to cement only the very important points in the employee's mind. Therefore, concentrate and streamline to the important points. Hit the point, give an illustration, ask for questions, hit the point again, and then go to the next topic. This is the pattern that I've found most effective for a QUICK TRAINING scenario, however, I would not suggest it for your regular classroom setting, since deep comprehension of concepts usually is better served by discussion and critical thinking, two activities that make classroom learning a lot more useful and fun.