“Individual commitment to a group effort; that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
Vince Lombardi wasn’t necessarily directing his advice towards HOA or property management companies, though his insights certainly apply to this area as well, says David Cohen, the vice president of service excellence for AKAM on-site, a professional property management firm in Dania Beach. “The best relationships are those in which the board and management share mutual respect, trust, and communication.”
Expectations and Responsibilities
HOA boards and professional property management companies share a symbiotic relationship. The responsibility of the property manager is to provide the board with the information they need to carry out their goals regarding the building, staff, financial issues, and so on. The board’s job is to use this information to make the best decisions possible on behalf of the building or HOA.
“When the board clearly articulates their vision for the property, as well as their expectations of the manager’s role, and then allows management to do their job, with both sides respecting the other’s position and responsibilities, you have a recipe for success,” says Cohen.
“In an ideal board/management partnership, managers are the professionals,” says Barbara Proctor, a senior property manager at Konover South: a Simon Konover Company in Deerfield Beach providing development, leasing and management services, “and to be successful, they need to be trained and have the necessary leadership skills to provide the level of service required for each community association. Managers should also have the skills to prepare a well-planned agenda, assist the presiding officer in conducting a meeting, to assist board members in preparing motions to accomplish what they want, to help committees prepare reports, and train the secretary in how they prepare minutes. Successful boards typically have well-organized meetings that allow for full participation.”
The Importance of Communication
“Some boards do this better than others,” says Proctor. “It helps to have open meetings so everyone can help to identify problems, find solutions, and communicate. Individual boards have specific problems, but the process is universal. Successful boards have a tendency to be more respectful and responsive in understanding individual needs.”
Like personal relationships, board and managers can disagree on certain issues. Struggles can arise when board members bother property managers with trivial details after-hours, and property managers can have difficulty coping with the high turnover of volunteer board members.
“As a property manager, I wear different hats when I’m dealing with different people, but it’s certainly possible to deal effectively with different board members at different buildings,” says Bell, adding that the average age of his board members is 81. “Not everyone is up on the technology I use, such as Dropbox and file sharing or bar graphs, so I have to present things to people in a way that they can understand,” he says. “You might want to have a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter management model for each building, but you can’t have that. You have to be adaptable to each situation.”