After serving in communities as a manager for a number of years, you will have earned a proverbial PhD in P.I.A’s, as in Pain in the A_ _’s and Formerly Important People, also known as, F.I.P’s. Allow me to paint a picture for you: You manage an upscale community where there are former captains of industry, former Fortune 500 company CEO’s and Chairmen, throw in a few trust fund recipients and a “back-in-the-day” celebrity or two, and you will begin your tutorial on how to deal with F.I.P.’s. You must always be respectful to all owners equally, but the F.I.P. requires more attention and “kid glove” handling. Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot to offer, and are really interesting people, but their expectations far exceed the normal service provided to other owners. The best strategy is to listen. The F.I.P. will reveal their needs, and you can usually garner enough information in the first few meetings to manage their expectations.
The P.I.A requires a different strategy. Generally, they are chronic complainers who will almost never be satisfied with whatever is happening in the community. You will try many, many, many times to satisfy the P.I.A., to no avail. They will challenge every option, idea and solution presented, and you will be frustrated until… you realize it is an exercise in futility. The problem is with the individual person. Their problem is clinical, social, or spiritual, but you won’t win. Just let it go. Be respectful. Don’t take it personally. Do your best. Take copious notes about each encounter, with dates and times, to protect yourself and the association. Be thankful that the P.I.A. is the exception, not the rule.
We are all the same, we all just want to be acknowledged and validated, seen and heard. Compassion is the key. F.I.P’s and P.I.A’s are in every community. Study them, their methods, their circles of influence, and how seriously the board takes their opinions. They can make or break your ability to do the job.
Endeavor to persevere.
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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