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Professional development: you’re never too busy to learn

The story of two managers who put professional development as a top priority. But what do they do and just how do they find the time? They share their tips with Rachel Escott.

Rachel Escott

youre-never-too-busy-to-learn-classTime is money in the property industry, and agents often prioritise generating more sales/lettings, which can be to the detriment of training and development. However James Hindson and Rachel Pitkethly are proof that no matter how busy you are, you can (and indeed must) find time for training. They have both just completed an intensive three-day Leadership and Management Standard course – so how did they fit it in to such busy schedules?

1 Put it in the diary… …  (and leave it there)

Both Rachel and James are in agreement that you have to be strict when managing your time. “I can easily become distracted with my day to day work so the only way I found the time for the course was to simply block out sections of time in my diary, and be firm with myself when sticking to it”, says James, who is Lettings Manager at Scott Fraser. When Rachel booked the course, her business was both busy and short-staffed, “It was a worry that I was just too busy to do the course. However, it was booked, paid for and once a commitment is written in the diary then time must be made for the event. Within a couple of hours of the course I knew I had done the right thing in making time.”

2 Be realistic

Make sure that you are rational when organising your time – don’t expect too much or too little. Break your schedule down into manageable chunks and also don’t overestimate the impact that training will have on your day-to-day work. Rachel is the Operations Manager at Bowson Lettings, and confirms, “The office didn’t fall to pieces without me on training days!”

3 Don’t go it alone

Completing training with other colleagues will help motivate you to set aside the time. In recent years James has completed a professional property qualification – the NFoPP Level 3 Technical Award in Residential Lettings and Property Management – and had the benefit of studying with colleagues who were also doing the award, “which made all the difference as we were able to ask each other questions throughout the day to keep us on our toes!”

4 Join a like-minded company

Being part of a company that highly values professional development is important as they will encourage you to go on training courses and will help you fit your workload around it; they might even pay! Both Rachel and James’ companies are committed to developing their staff through training, and paid for their places on the course. Scott Fraser also paid for James to take the Technical Award. Commitment to staff development also benefits employers; as James put it, “I personally would rather work for an agent that wanted me to evolve than one that did not want to push their staff to be the best they can possibly be.”

Rachel Escott

Rachel Escott

Rachel admits, “I am typical of most people in that I have personal goals that will never be achieved because there are always other things getting in the way”. The main difference is that both Rachel and James highly value training, and know that it is integral to a successful career in the property industry. Agents need to be up to date with industry developments and legislation in order to set themselves apart from the competition and give the best level of customer service. By setting aside the time to study for and pass the Technical Award, James has been able to join the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the UK’s foremost professional body for letting agents, which he can promote to his clients.

Perhaps the best person to sum up the importance of making time for training is the Leadership and Management Standard course leader, Gayle Partridge, “If you do what you always did, you get what you always got.”

The Leadership and Management Standard Course is recognised as a Developmental Award by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). The course is offered through the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Association oResidential Letting Agents (ARLA). These Associations have over 40 years’ experience of the property industry and run over 200 short courses a year in a variety of locations across the UK.  For more information, visit www.naea.co.uk/training-courses and www.arla.co.uk/training-courses.

August 6, 2014

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