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June 01, 2019

Ask Maria - Managers are from Mars, Boards are from Venus

Creating a good working relationship between condo boards and property managers

Maria Bartolotti

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Q: Desr Maria; I am being asked to consider a post in my condo board, and I’m curious about how a condo board maintains a good relationship with the condo manager.


A:
I heard this great saying that I believe holds true: “the critical relationship between the Board and Manger can turn water into wine when it works, but can then turn it back to sour milk when it doesn’t.” How true is that? I believe every manager and board member has experienced this exact statement.

This is a good follow-up conversation to have after last month’s column discussing a Code of Ethics to help boards resolve disputes.

I always say that the best Boards to work with are those who truly believe in making communication a priority. These boards know that openness; forgiveness, ethics and transparency make for great governance and a strong relationship between the two. I can truly and with absolute honesty say that New Concept Management Inc. has some of the best boards in the Condominium Community. 

But, lets face it, no condo board or management company is perfect. You have different views and personalities to contend with. Conflicts will arise from time to time. How you handle the situation makes a world of difference.

Don’t get me wrong you will always run into those individuals who think the grass is greener on the other side, or someone on the board who likes to stir the pot, just because they can. If there is enough reason to terminate an agreement, then so be it. But if not, then don’t you think it’s worth the effort to work together? It takes time to develop a working relationship and a strong one at that. 

It also holds true, that most if not all condo boards are volunteers and have minimal experience in this area and they are tasked with managing a substantial asset. So having that valuable input from the manager is essential.

For me, and my team at New Concept Management Inc., we’ve embraced the view that our working relationship with our boards is a partnership. We work hand-in-hand with our boards to assist them in managing their condo community. We bring the expertise; knowledge and support they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of their condo.

Here are 2 essential steps that I believe a Board and Manager can use to build on a healthy business relationship.

Define the Roles Between the Board and the Manager:

➢ This step is typically overlooked, but an essential one in my opinion. I know I’m not perfect and have dropped the ball a time or two in this area. If you’re seasoned or new to the Board it is essential to understand the distinction between the role of the board and the manager. New Concept Management likes to take time at the first meeting of a new board to review the roles and responsibilities. This also presents a good opportunity to clear up any misconceptions and clarify areas of overlap.

➢ The Role of the Board is to make decisions about the control, management and administration of the condominium corporation and the enforcement of the Bylaws and generally provides leadership to its condo community.

➢ It is important that Directors be active and involved when they serve on the Board. Every Candidate for the position of Board member must be willing to devote the necessary time need to oversee the corporation. Members who cannot devote the time should not be on their condo board.

➢ They must be willing to learn and acquire the knowledge needed to effectively carry out their duties and they must understand and have the willingness to carry out their position as a director. Having overlapping positions when you have enough members on the board is not conducive. Every director should be willing to carry out his or her role.

➢ The Condominium Management Company, like New Concept Management Inc., is an independent organization hired through its board of directors to carry out the day-to-day operation of a condominium corporation. The elected manager works closely with the board to provide them with guidance and support on matters related to the condominium corporation such as; administration functions, account management and preparation of financial statements, building maintenance, Insurance, reserve fund studies, determining and setting budgets, attendance at Board a meetings and the AGM are just a few of what is carried out by the management company and manager.

Communication:

➢ Communication is a critical and important step to the success of the working relationship between the Board of Directors, Manager and the Owners.

➢ It is also very important to establish a liaison that can communicate the needs of the board to the manager. Taking direction from different members on the board can prove to be difficult, frustrating and destructive. Keep it simple and have communications come from one source.

➢ Don’t go long periods of time without meeting or checking in with each. Set regular times to meet as a board along with the manager to discuss, record important facts and carry out the business of the condo corporation.

➢ Part of communication is also feedback to your condo manager or board members. If a problem arises, don’t wait months to talk to them, address it immediately in a professional and impartial manner, and don’t forget to give positive feedback to your condo manager. After all they work extremely hard behind the scene on your behalf.

They say, it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to work together as a team to manage the condo corporation. So, you don’t have to be from Mars or Venus to work together.

Until next time …

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