This past month I gave a presentation to CAI Channel Islands Chapter entitled Ready or Not, HEAR it Comes! It was based on the chapter’s anonymous survey of Board members and managers which consisted of only one question for each:

For the Boards: What 3 things do you want to say to your manager?

For the Manager: What 3 things do you want to say to your Board?

As you can imagine, everyone had a lot to say (!); however, amazingly enough, the responses from both sides were variations on the same theme: Board expectations v. managers’ available time.

This month we’ll take a look at legitimate concerns Board members have on manager performance (which point to their expectations), and some practical suggestions for managers to better meet those (again, legitimate) concerns. Next month, we’ll turn the tables and see what our managers want to say to their Boards, so stay tuned.

#1 Board concern: Timely communication and better follow up

“I often get feedback from homeowners that their calls/emails are not returned/answered promptly or at all. In fact, I have had a few occasions where I experienced this. It’s important managers are responsive to inquiries and requests.”

“…If a commitment is made to follow up on an item and/or provide feedback/answers, the manager needs to follow through in a timely manner. I have found items roll over month after month until strong demands are made for resolution.”

What managers can do

Auto response and voicemail (VM) should be used to acknowledge incoming communication and let them know when (and under what circumstances) you will be returning that communication. For example (voicemail): “Hi this is Julie and I’ll be in meetings until 3pm I’ll return your call after that time today, or tomorrow in the morning if my personal response is required.” Auto-response would be similar. Most people want the touch – just to know their message has been received.

Don’t be afraid! Change VM and auto-response daily or more often. Don’t just change your VM when you go on vacation – change it as you need to, which could be daily – or more, depending on what you have going on.

Better time management

All managers are exceedingly busy (see next months’ NewsLine), but here are a few reminders:

Use your Action Lists and Master Calendars to help you not only see the big time-management picture, but the daily one as well. And don’t forget to schedule the “backtime” it takes to meet all your tasks and deadlines.

Don’t get sidetracked: Stick to your schedule by learning to manage interruptions. Being able to meet multiple deadlines means that each task you are working on requires your full attention and focus. When the inevitable interruption comes your way, deal with it, and go back to focusing on the task at hand. Stay away from social media (yeah, delete that app) and other total time-wasters while working.

Don’t do things out of contract. If you and your employer aren’t being paid to do it, don’t. You don’t have the time.

Establish trust between you and the Board by consistent response times and methods.Everyone would like an instant response to every call, email or text, but in real life that is just not possible, especially over long periods of time. Managing your incoming communications and managing your time better will allow you to personally answer those communications that require it in a timely fashion. Consistency in this – on your part – will help manage your Boards’ expectations as they develop trust in you to take care of business.

# 2 Board concern: Manager should be more knowledgeable

“… Would like to see managers be more knowledgeable overall about rules, procedures, processes, etc. This would be helpful in answering questions from homeowners, vendors & board members accurately without intervention by outside counsel which can get costly.”

What managers can do

Be familiar with governing documents of your communities. As the manager you should have a working knowledge of policies and procedures of each of your communities, because Board members rotate in and out and they may not even realize they exist.

Keep current on upcoming legislation or developing governmental policies. Go to industry sponsored educational events and legal seminars. It’s your job, but always know when it really is time to use legal counsel on an issue.

 There is no such thing as too much education. So many of you out there have just the minimal designation available, and when asked why you don’t have more you always say “My employer won’t pay for it.” I don’t care. The initials behind your name means you have a dedication to your industry that others don’t have, and have done as much as you can do to be better at your job. Don’t stop with minimal designations, keep growing and learning. It does make a difference.

# 3 Board concern: Some Board members are more equal than others

“Every voice on the board should be considered/listened to/ and responded to!” “(Give) timely communication to ALL board members (about) complex issues… some board members know something others know nothing…”

What managers can do

First and always remember that all Board members have the same value. We all have our favorite Board members, but the point is well-taken: Each member should be treated equally as is practicable. Playing favorites is never a good management strategy, because any member could be the President tomorrow.

Establish with the Board how information will be disseminated to the individual members.Having the Board buy in to the methodology establishes continuity and conformity and goes to your credibility as the impartial professional.

How to reconcile what the Board wants with your available time?

I’ve given managers some practical advice in how to manage Board expectations by better managing various aspects of their day and utilizing some simple tools; however, in the long run we need to have real, candid conversations between managers, their Boards and management companies on our mutual expectations. Why don’t we? Boards won’t clarify their expectations because they are afraid their fees will rise. Managers won’t because they think the Board will be angry. Management companies don’t because they fear losing the contract. The result: Everyone is unhappy with the relationship. As Rolf Crocker says, “I want to go where I’m celebrated, not tolerated.” To be there, we must have better relationships.

Next month, from managers: The 3 Things I want to tell my Boards, what Boards can do to improve their relations with their manager and each other, and what management companies can do to facilitate better understand of the services they provide to the client.

c. 2017 Julie Adamen, Adamen Inc. all rights reserved.

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