By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published September 2022
Picture this. A nine-member board of directors, 200-plus shareholders, and an experienced CAM go from hostile, chaotic, unfocused board meetings to an assault, a recall, and a reckoning, which leads to a creation of policies and procedures, peace, order, and focused purpose. What an amazing transformation!
While watching the transformation of this community, one might think the CAM and directors had studied the leadership principles of Attila the Hun. Yes, there are some good things to learn from Mr. Hun.
Attila was the leader of the Huns, who were a collection of fiercely independent multiracial and multilingual tribes, a people without recognizable common physical characteristics, with no observable religion, and marked by a common thread of instability and emotion. It’s interesting that this could describe the owners and atmosphere in some of our community associations.
It was recounted that Attila said, “All who are Huns and those who seek to become one of us must learn, adapt, and adhere to our customs.” So, too, the owners in our communities must submit to all the responsibilities, privileges, and restrictions contained in their governing documents.
As boards of directors and CAMs attempt to implement and enforce those responsibilities, privileges, and restrictions in the governing documents, they soon discover ambiguity, inconsistency, and huge gaps in information between what is to be done and how to do it. Left in this position, board members and CAMs stall, make inconsistent decisions, or impose personal preferences and appear arbitrary. It becomes a free-for-all community where each does what is right in his own eyes.
The Hunnish nation learned they could not have a common goal without discipline. Discipline builds morale. Morale and discipline are central to unity. Unity brings peace to the tribe.
For our communities, discipline comes in the form of policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are used (in any type of organization) to formalize the way we operate and communicate internally and with the outside world. Without them, there is arbitrary, inconsistent action and reaction, leaving owners with no sense of “this is the way we do things here.” No unity and no peace.
Well-crafted and implemented policies and procedures will not permit deviation from the order of things within our community associations. Owners will know the board members and CAM are united in their purpose, and there is no need to “work the system.”
A lack of policies and procedures for your community creates a “contagious disease” that will run throughout your community sowing seeds of discontent, animosity, and disregard for the community standards.
It comes as a surprise to most board members and CAMs how many instances are given to them throughout the Florida law to create policies and procedures. And it is not hard to do. A few board members and concerned owners and the CAM can craft a few sentences or paragraphs of “this is how we do this,” vote on it at a properly noticed board meeting, set a date for implementation, notify and educate the owners, and do it. As each policy or procedure is developed, excerpt each one and keep it in a book or electronic folder.
What follows is a list of topics in the Florida law and other best business practice topics that board members and CAMs could consider when creating policies and procedures:
Peace and harmony in your communities will come when owners have a reasonable expectation of disciplined action and purpose by the board members and the CAM. Such was the transformation of the community described at the beginning of this article.
Leadership is the privilege to have the responsibility to direct the actions of others in carrying out the purposes of the organization, at varying levels of authority and with accountability for both successful and failed endeavors.
– Wess Roberts, Ph.D., author of Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA
Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while 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 former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM at www.youtube.com/c/cammatters. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, call (352) 326-8365, or visit www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.