By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAMTM / Published September 2017
Many Florida managers love their jobs and their communities! Really! A lot of managers find that community association management is a mixture of awesome and devastating, ever learning and routine, challenging and boring, exciting and horrifying, and rewarding and time to move on. Those who seem to really love their jobs appear to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. It’s not that they are in denial, but they see both sides. Then there are those who drag themselves to work every day. So why do many managers find the work rewarding and others do not? What makes the difference?
Let’s look at a typical Monday. Sometimes it seems the first hour on Monday morning will determine the rest of the week. Will it be a good week or a bad week? The first thing on your desk is a letter from a disgruntled employee who also happens to be a homeowner. The tone of the letter is nasty and threatening. He is reminding you of a problem you recen-tly had with the sprinklers, which you thought had been resolved. His letter is letting you know the problem has not been resolved, and he is prepared to rally together the other residents just in case you didn’t take the matter seriously. You would have expected this kind of letter from one of your regular complainers, but an employee? All he had to do was come by the office and talk with you. For some reason, this complaint coming from an employee just sets you off.
Next comes the telephone call from your lawn maintenance contractor threatening to give you 30 days notice if one more resident stops his crews to complain about either the quality of work or the prioritizing of the work. You think to yourself, “How many more times do I have to put in the newsletter and on the television that ‘ALL maintenance concerns are to be in writing and submitted to the office’? When will residents learn that stopping the lawn crew while they are working is not the right procedure?”
To top off the morning, on your agenda is the issue regarding the hill above the south retention pond. The owners at the bottom of the hill are complaining and rightly so. It can be blamed on the developer, but your board inherited the problem, which also makes it your problem! The board does not want to spend the money, but the driveways and eventually the units at the bottom of the hill are going to get flooded. What you don’t want is someone to make a complaint to the water management district and subject the association to a $2,500 fine per week. You would rather take care of the problem now instead of dragging it out. The problem should be fixed, it can be fixed, and, when fixed, it will create better water flow and community goodwill, but the board has a different sense of urgency than you.
So here you are at 7:30 in the morning—frustrated, exasperated, and just about angry. What can you do to turn this into a better day? Week? First, vent your frustrations to a trusted friend, preferably someone who is NOT in your office or living in the community. Go out and take a walk or run some errands. Find someone who will make you laugh and lighten your perspective on the situation. Do whatever it takes for you to “get over it.” Then remember the CAM Pledge—Choice, Attitude, Manners.
Pay attention to what you are thinking. All humans have the ability to be self-aware; that is, they have the ability to think about what they are thinking. Judge those thoughts as appropriate or not. Then, you have the ability to choose to think what you want to think, and hopefully you’ll choose to think on the positive. Also, listen to the words that come out of your mouth. You’ll be able to tell by what you hear yourself say if you are making better thinking choices.
Greg faced the challenge of his historic 30-story condominium building being devastated by Hurricane Matthew. It was going to be more than 18 months before the owners could move back into their units. Greg’s attitude, “Well, now I get to learn about insurance claims!” What a trooper. He could definitely have had some negative thoughts and chosen some really negative words.
Second, attitude is everything. Remember that attitude is a choice. In reality, no one can make you angry. It’s what you think about what they said that causes frustration and anger, not their words. It’s your thinking; your value system colliding with circumstances or words that are in conflict. The choice here is yours—“Am I going to be stubborn and proud, or influential and humble? Am I going to be flexible or rigid? Do I see my way as the only right way, or am I willing to admit there may be other reasonable, valid points of view? Am I willing to be a listener and a learner?” It has been said that changing your attitude will change your world. Remember, you stand a better chance of changing your attitude than your circumstances.
Third, while you are choosing positive thoughts and changing your attitude, tell your face that you are going to have a good day. Make yourself smile or hum a tune. Quit slamming the door or throwing paper around. And stop the heavy sighs. Watch your manners. Be in the present! Most people don’t care that you are having a bad day except as to how it affects them. Professional speakers learn very quickly that your audience does not care about how bad your airplane trip was or the taxi cab ride or how little sleep you got. Your audience is concerned with themselves—they have paid to hear what you have to say. The same is similar with managers. Your “existence” is all about them—your board and residents! They really don’t care how many frustrations you have on your plate. Smile whether you feel like it or not.
So determine now to make the CAM Pledge a part of every day. Choose the right thoughts, change your Attitude, and mind your Manners by starting with a smile on your face. You’ll have a better day and an awesome week.
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM
Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.