It’s that time again.
The month of March is already well underway and NSW agents are checking their diaries and trying to find a gap they can fill with up to 9 hours of CPD training.
Agents in big franchises will often be fortunate to have their CPD opportunities planned for them, with training days put on by their HQs or office, either online or in-person. All they need to do is keep their diary free and turn up.
For smaller franchises or independents, this time of year is often sprinkled with conversations around ‘having to get CPD points out of the way’ and how to get them done as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Hunting down a course that is cost-effective, minimally disruptive and an ‘easy win’ becomes the task of back office staff, or for those of us without this vital crew, a job allocated for evenings or mornings before or after the demands of the rest of the day take over.
Despite our busy lives and all that is required of us, CPD training is not just important for compliance, it’s important because it gives us a rare, annual opportunity to upskill, to learn more about an area we know little about or for which we may be a bit light on — it’s an opportunity to be a better agent and more successful.
Covid taught all of us we need to be ready and able to adapt and apply new thinking or new solutions, and while hopefully those challenges are behind us, the need to continuously evolve never will be.
Really focusing on your CPD points, selecting courses that are relevant and useful to you and your future, can aid the way you respond to change in the market, the industry and the world.
1. Selecting the right course and provider
It’s tempting to sign up for the cheapest course. It’s tempting to seek out the easiest course. It’s very tempting to prioritise everything other than really learning, and just tick this box.
But what do you actually get out of it?
Usually, our advice for selecting a CPD course and provider is to identify the gaps in your knowledge and find courses that match them.
And while we stand by that, the last few years have given us a very good point in the right direction for a few things all of us need to learn.
Since seeing less technically-able agents struggle to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape during Covid, we all now know you can’t afford to be behind the eight ball when it comes to digital ability.
You need to understand how the most essential programs can be used most efficiently and effectively — your CRM, your data, your sales platforms. You have to be able to do identify which platforms will be most beneficial in your property and brand marketing. You absolutely must know which software your office needs in order to remain cutting edge and competitive. You also need to know how to use these platforms.
Alongside technology needs, ensuring you really do have a solid knowledge of compliance, not just a tick box, under the new license structure in NSW, is literally make or break. The fines for getting it wrong are more than many small agencies can accommodate.
When selecting a course and provider, yes, find your gaps, but also take note of what we’ve learned since 2019, and know what you need to learn, in order to adapt, plan and make it through change.
2. Learn together
Now that a lot of us do CPD online, we gain convenience, pace and a greater variety of options. What we lose, is the benefit of questions that other learners ask, and the answers we may not have known we needed.
If you can, make more of your CPD by doing it as a group, even if you are doing it online. Stop, take the time to discuss and debate, encourage questions and learn from each other at the same time as learning from your course material.
If you can’t learn together, share after. Ask your team to note down five important learnings they didn’t know before the course and in your next team meeting, share. You’ll be surprised at the gaps you fill just by welcoming different knowledge bases and perceptions.
3. Cater to your leaning type
Research tells us that people learn in different ways. Some people learn through hearing or seeing materials, others by practically experiencing a situation for themselves.
When it comes to multi-media and different learning options, some providers do it better than others. Unless you learn very well simply by reading, ignore courses that just throw material at you to work through, at your own pace, with a test at the end.
Look for courses with a combo of materials provided, live lessons, videos, interactive non-assessable quizzes and even podcasts. They are all out there and the more you hunt for and find a course suited to how you learn, the more you will get out of the experience — and the money you are spending to obtain it.
And while we are all busy people and we need to get this done as efficiently as possible, if online isn’t for you – don’t try to make it for you. If you know you’re going to get more out of doing an in-person course, than you would sitting at a desk and staring at a screen, book yourself in and head to a classroom.
4. Your team follows your lead
At the end of the day, the culture in a business is what really dictates how much people will get out of their CPD points. If your culture is fast-paced and demands things are done as quicky as possible, no matter what, and your leaders place no importance on CPDs or learning, your staff will likely feel the same.
The disadvantage here, both for you and your team, is that they then grow and learn at a slower pace. They could be bringing valuable new knowledge into your workplace that improves your processes, compliance, brand – but instead, they are spending six hours ticking a box.
As a leader, a big part of your job is to set the tone for your business. When it comes to CPD training, don’t let it become just a ‘tick box’, use it and encourage your team to use it so your people and business stay ahead of the game, have the opportunity to be cutting-edge, and the so curiosity and the rewards that come from it, are celebrated.