By John Kline, LCAM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM / Published March 2019
For nearly 15 years in this industry, I have witnessed and experienced many different scenarios with the working relationship between a condominium or homeowners association board of directors and the association manager. It goes without saying, I have experienced some good working relationships and some challenging working relationships. The significance of a cohesive working relationship between an association manager and a board of directors cannot be overstated. The association manager plays a significant role in the success of the board of directors and the association it serves.
To maximize the benefits of the working relationship, the two entities must work in concert to achieve the goals of the board of directors and to meet the needs of the members of a successful homeowners or condominium association.
I have always prided myself in working diligently to develop these relationships. I have experience as a portfolio manager and experience as a manager of a large-scale property. There are, however, some challenges while on the path of developing these relationships, and those
challenges come in many forms. As an example, some associations elect new board members every year, and some boards have staggered terms. Either way, a manager may be taking direction from a different group of people each year, so the development of these relationships is ongoing. Another challenge is dealing with the different personalities and business experience that each board member brings to a board. The more experience a manager has, the more effective he or she will be in dealing with these individual needs.
There are five important factors that create this special relationship between the association manager and the board of directors.
Understanding: A key component is understanding what the board is trying to accomplish during its term in office. It is also very important to understand what the thought process is of each board member. Understanding how each of the board members thinks about different situations is a helpful tool when working with a board. Typically, members of associations volunteer to be part of a board of a condominium association or homeowners association because they feel they can bring something to the board and to the association. It is an association manager’s role to help each board member fulfill the reason they decided to run for the board.
Listening: A key component is being a good listener and making every effort to get clear direction from the board of directors. An association manager is most effective if he or she has a clear understanding of what the board wishes
to accomplish. In most cases the association manager has more practical experience with how to effectively operate an association than most of the board members. However, people who run for the volunteer position of being a board member typically bring some kind of experience with them. This experience is a valuable tool that can be used to everyone’s advantage if these experiences are used. Association managers are exposed to many different scenarios, depending on the number of years of experience. Experience and knowledge go together. The everyday job of managing an association gives ample opportunity to learn and expand one’s knowledge about a wide range of topics.
Guiding: An association manager can have a guiding influence. Experienced and inexperienced board members should be guided through the maze of the working documents within the association’s community documents and the Florida statutes. Each day is a new opportunity that calls on the association manager to guide the board, so the best possible decisions can be made.
Advising: Once a successful working relationship between a board of directors and an association manager is developed, the two work in concert together. An accomplished association manager is right there with the board and is capable of giving advice to the board for a common purpose.
Diligent Effort: The final component to a successful working relationship is diligent effort by the manager. There are so many moving parts to a successful community association. It takes a concerted effort to fulfill the goals of the board and of the association.
Diligent effort will bring together all five of the components I have listed above. The board must learn to trust the experience and knowledge of a licensed association manager and think of that person as a valued member of the leadership of their board. An association manager is someone who cares about the plans and goals of the board and the association and who cares about reasons people come together in an association of homeowners.
Senior Vice President of Operations in the Lake Worth office of GRS Management
John Kline is Sr. Vice President of Operations in the Lake Worth office of GRS Management. Before joining GRS Management in 2017, John was a senior property manager, and he has been in the industry for almost 15 years. John is now engaged in the daily operation of the Finance Department and Resident Services Departments of the company. His main focus is on improving the corporate operational processes and improving the corporate culture of teamwork. For more information about GRS Management, visit the GRS website at www.grsmgt.com.