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Computer Illiterate? Seek Help!

Let’s face it… the internet is NOT a fad (sorry Al Gore) and the role both the internet and computers play in our business is vast and ever growing. Let’s take a look at what parts of our business are computer and/or internet based:   

  • Communication (with Colleagues & Prospects)- Email, usually Outlook is used in our business
  • Learning Management Systems- Does your company offer online learning?
  • Property Management Software- On our computers and generally on the internet
  • Social Media
  •  Rent Payments- A good portion of us allow residents to pay online
  • Advertising- Our biggest source of traffic, in a lot of instances is apartments.com
  • Weekly/Monthly Reports- Excel and Word play a big role in how we relay information
  • Performance Appraisals- Many are integrated into our HRIS systems, which are internet based
  • Payroll Time Tracking- Does anyone use a manual system anymore?
  • New Colleague Orientation- Unless your company is 100% local, the internet is often used
  • Accounting- Most accounting departments use our property management software in conjunction with computer and/or internet based financial software
  • Payroll- The majority of us rely on Direct Deposit, which uses a computer to transmit.

I could go on and on… I think the writing on the wall is pretty clear, to be successful in our business you MUST have some sort of computer know-how. I’m not talking learning HTML here… I’m talking the VERY BASICS of computer understanding!

Frankly, I’m blown away, nearly on a daily basis; at the lack of computer knowledge so many in our industry seem to be plagued with.

One person comes to mind and the story goes like this… she was replying to an email announcement to enroll in one of our course offerings (before we had our current LMS, which allows the user to enroll themselves, which we provide in-house training on). She’d sent me 4 emails. Finally, at the 4th I called her and let her know I had in fact received her emails and she was enrolled, no need to send anymore. She seemed confused and told me that nothing had happened. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I said; what do you mean nothing happened? She then proceeded to tell me that when she clicked the link to reply back and enroll that after she wrote she wanted to enroll and sent it, nothing happened.

I’m still sitting here, not understanding what she’s telling me… so I took a few seconds and processed. Then it hit me. Oh man…

I started, when you clicked the link, it opened up an outlook email message, right? She said yes. I then said and you typed a message that you wanted to enroll and then clicked send, right? She said yes… and added that’s when nothing happened. So I asked, what did you expect to happen? She said, I don’t know like a confirmation or something, I’ve never done one of these before.

Now, I was very concerned. I said, you’ve never sent an email message using Outlook before (which I knew wasn’t true… I’d communicated with this manager plenty of times, via email… and YES, I SAID MANAGER).  She paused and said… well yes, I’ve sent an email before, but that’s not what this was.

I was taken aback… could someone be THIS computer illiterate? Again I paused, remaining the consummate professional, and said… yes, that is what this was (and of course, I double checked to make sure the hyperlink wasn’t wrong). That’s why what popped up when you clicked the link, looked just like an Outlook email message… because it is one.

She was silent for a few seconds, realized what I was saying, probably tried it again for herself and then said… Oops. I’m just not too good with computers!

You don’t say…

The moral of my story is this… If you want to succeed in multifamily housing (or any other industry, for that matter), take your career into your own hands and learn how to be at the very least a computer USER and overtime… maybe even computer savvy. Computer and internet knowledge is no longer a PLUS, it’s a MUST!

At Sterling, we offer our colleagues the opportunity to take the courses that Microsoft offers for free and we provide a link on our company Intranet for them. If your company doesn’t offer any in house computer training classes, then click here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/support/training-FX101782702.aspx?redir=0

Microsoft offers tutorials on all of their products (which most of us use) and best of all… they’re FREE! Aren't you worth it? 

Tara Furiani is the Director of Training & Marketing at The Sterling Group. To learn more about The Sterling Group visit: www.thesterlinggrp.com To learn more about Tara, visit her website at: www.tarafuriani.com.

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