By Gary Van Der Laan, PCAM / Published September 2017
All of us have heard about teamwork and how vital it is in working environments. When you really think about it, though, teamwork is important in many different situations outside of your own career. The main advantage to working together as a team is that you create a huge strength in problem solving. The bond and creativity that come from working together as a unit can help us overcome issues that we may have struggled with on our own.
In the field of community association management, teamwork is a vital part of a successful association. Board members face many unique challenges in their day-to-day duties of managing their neighborhood. When board members can work together as a cohesive unit and apply all of their individual strengths to solving a problem, great things can happen. One member of your board of directors may have a very creative mind while another may have amazing organizational skills. By combining these strengths, the team can find a well-roun-ded solution to any issue that may arise. Whether the board needs to decide on a new budget for the upcoming year or consider a policy change for the community, teamwork is sure to increase the likelihood of a successful solution.
In community associations, teamwork also applies to working with outside units such as vendors, residents, and your management company. Vendors and boards form a powerful team that when working together can produce incredible results. The strong relationships that form from working together as a unit build trust between entities and can provide a sense of comfort and well-being. If a board works closely with their lawn care provider, for instance, it’s likely that their communication skills with one another will increase and that each party can quickly resolve complications that come up in everyday situations.
Teamwork is also an important theme in dealing with residents. Not only should residents aspire to work with one another as a team to brainstorm ideas to benefit the community, but board members should also maintain a positive, team-oriented relationship with the residents. Ultimately, board members are residents, too, and like others that live in the community, they want the best for the association. While sometimes it might seem like the relationship between boards and residents can turn into an “us versus them” scenario, in reality finding a common ground is likely easier than one might think. By working together on conflict resolution skills, it’s likely that boards and residents can learn to conduct productive meetings in which all solutions to an issue are considered. Your association will be even better because of this teamwork!
Finally, teamwork is probably the most important part of your relationship with your management company. Within Leland Management, we promote teamwork in our company culture and find many ways throughout the year to encourage positive team engagement. Our annual corporate training event focuses strongly on team building skills. As a result, our accounting managers, community association managers, and support staff work strongly together as a united front with the common goal of serving our boards and residents to the best of our combined abilities. We bring this team approach to working with our boards. Collaboration between board members, residents, and management company staff is the keystone to building and maintaining a successful community association.
You may wonder how you can strengthen team relationships with your fellow board members, vendors, residents, and management company. The most important practice in moving toward positive teamwork is clear communication. Make sure that your interactions make others feel safe sharing ideas and thoughts with you. If people feel safe sharing, you are on your way to working together as a cohesive team.
It can also be helpful to define responsibilities. Decide with your fellow board members who should take the lead on which role. This also applies to the community’s vendors. What do you expect on their end versus what do they need from you? Once you have decided these things, everyone will have a clearer expectation of their responsibilities. Of course, you will all help each other, but each person can at least know how to best use his or her strengths. Finally, be positive. Positivity is contagious! As one of the leaders in your community, your positivity will go a long way toward diffusing tough circumstances and promoting long-term trust and engagement with those you work with on a day to day basis.
While all of us know about teamwork and sense how important it is, sometimes we forget to foster it. Like most things in life, maintaining a positive team environment takes self-awareness and a little bit of effort. With practice, these principles will become more and more natural to you in your communications. Before you know it, your
fellow board members, vendors, residents, and management company will all be working together seamlessly as one powerful unit with the sole purpose of making your community the very best it can be.
Gary Van Der Laan
Vice President of Leland Management
Gary van der Laan is vice president of Leland Management and has been a licensed community association manager for the past 25 years. He facilitates manager education as well as teaching board training programs throughout the state and holds the CMCA, AMS, and PCAM designations through CAI, as well as the CFCAM designation from Florida Community Association Professionals. Van der Laan is a contributor to the education curriculum of the statewide FCAP training program and has provided education courses at many city and county education conferences. For more information, call (888) 465-0346 or visit www.LelandManagement.com.