By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

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Right now, there seem to be more management positions open than there are CAMs to fill them. Developers are building more communities, which means the demand for CAMs will increase. Hiring an experienced CAM likely means you’ll have to “steal” one from another community or management company. The alternative is to hire a new CAM and put forth the effort to train your CAM to your specific processes and procedures.

     To keep your CAM from being “stolen,” boards of directors and management companies should consider the following to keep your CAM present and engaged:

     Is there an opportunity for your CAM to network, engage with other local managers, and attend educational programs? In community association management, there is seldom anything new under the sun. Most challenges faced by managers have been resolved by others. Allowing a manager to enlarge his network benefits the community or management company. Managers need not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. They need friends and colleagues in the industry.

     Is your board of directors known for good or bad management? Management of a community association is the responsibility of the board of directors whether the association uses an on-site CAM or contracts with a management company. The manager works for the board of directors, which means the buck stops with the board. Good management includes trust, compassion, stability, and hope. Unfortunately, these are not qualities often associated with boards of directors. There is often a lack of trust among board members that infects the staff. Board members sometimes forget their manners and the fact that CAMs are people, too. Remember to treat CAMs with compassion. You never know what emotional, physical, or financial pain another person is going through.

     Is your workplace toxic? Not sure? Here is the definition: Toxic workplaces can be defined as any job where the work, the atmosphere, the people, or any combination of those things cause serious disruptions in the rest of your life. If your CAM is afraid to go to work, the board of directors or management has allowed a toxic (and possibly hostile) work environment.

     Is there room for career advancement, promotions, or authority or leadership positions? Does your CAM have opportunities to be more involved in decision-making processes, or interact more with residents and vendors, or provide more assistance or support to the board of directors, or be more involved in research and analysis of community projects?

     Is there excessive work? Too little work is not often the case. If you want to know what your CAM does, just spend the day with her. Most managers are expected to handle all the tasks and people and vendors and telephone calls, walk ins, and emails with no assistance. Likely, your CAM needs a gate keeper—a receptionist or administrative assistant. Better yet, close the office for several hours during lunch so they can have some uninterrupted work time. Management companies that overload their portfolio CAMs and don’t provide back-office accounting and administrative support are setting up those CAMs for burnout or failure. Customer service will become poor or nonexistent.

     Do you provide a fair salary? CAM management is not an hourly type position; it should be a salaried position. Every CAM should have a job description and understand how and when increases in pay could be expected and the criteria for that increase. Since boards of directors change often, managers fear for job security and financial security. CAM employees should execute employment agreements with the board of directors so they know under what circumstances that employment may end and their termination benefits.

     Does your association or management company reward its managers? A little praise, time off, or a bonus goes a long way in keeping your CAM present and engaged. How about taking your CAM to lunch?

     To be the kind of CAM others want working for them, be present and engaged by developing these qualities: professionalism, a worker’s heart, and the ability to handle difficult people.

     Professionalism could include the following:

  • Appropriate dress for board and owners’ meetings
  • • Proper interactions with others
  • • Proper sentence structure and punctuation in emails
  • • Frequent use of spell check
  • • Speaking clearly (without the duhs and dats and mumbling)
  • • Overcoming shyness
  • • Appropriate organizational skills
  • • Punctuality
  • • Projecting friendliness
  • • Self-control in difficult situations
  • • Being present and engaged(keep personal tasks to a bare minimum)
  • • Restraint from social media at work unless it is part of the job description
  • • Being able to ask for help when it is needed

     A worker’s heart could include being goal oriented, self-confident, firm, likeable, enthusiastic, communicative, loyal, systematic, trustworthy, orderly, focused, and attentive to details. If you are not sure if you have a worker’s heart, ask co-workers; or, if you are brave enough, ask a few honest friends or family members.

     The ability to handle difficult people does not come naturally to many CAMs. Disagreeing is easy. Getting past the disagreement or conflict is harder. Even when the people involved are honestly trying to find common ground, it is hard. But when one person involved has an unspoken agenda, or is purposely contrary, or is just plain mean and hateful, the situation is challenging at best and destructive at worst.

     Managers report that only five percent of their residents are VDPs—very draining people. But that small percentage often takes up most managers’ time, energy, and effort.

     Granted, there are a few people you deal with who are unstable, violent, or sick and in need of medication and professional therapy. When you recognize this type of person, don’t argue; just walk away.

     Right now, good managers are hard to find. Do all you can to keep your CAM. And CAMs, be the most employable you can be—be present and engaged.

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

Owner, Florida CAM Schools

     Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, 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 former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM at For more information, contact, call (352) 326-8365, or visit