Who’s with me? Anyone else heard this one before? “We have always done it like this!” Yep. For community managers who begin managing communities who have never had professional management, this will be a frequent catchphrase. It eliminates the need to explain the rationale for the current processes and procedures, and virtually eliminates further inquiry. Or does it?
Stay with me; this is important. At this point you must make a choice of (1) pontificating your superior knowledge and experience in community management, (2) try to persuade the board or committee member that they have been doing it all wrong, or (3) take a deep breath; look at the history of the transactions, minutes, contracts and community stakeholders and create a solution that will slowly help you gain their confidence and consensus on how a different process (that you create together) may help efficiency, productivity and money. If you chose option three! Winner, winner; chicken dinner!
The last thing a board who has been managing on their own for ten, twenty, thirty years or more, wants to hear is that you know more than they do about their community. They will also process any criticism as a personal indictment of their management, and that will likely fail. They have made the decision to hire professional management because they need our help; not our criticism, condescension or contempt. Whether intended or not, that is how they will perceive the information.
What to do? Let’s start by spending some time getting to know the players. Yes, it may take several months in the W.H.A.D.I.L.T. zone. Work on gaining consensus with the most reasonable person, and ask them for help! What’s that? Yes, ask them to help you with an idea you have that may work with their current system. It will seem like their idea, they will have ownership, and the tide will begin to turn slowly.
It seems like a lot of work doesn’t it? It is. You are working for the long-term relationship. All relationships begin with getting to know one another and learning to trust. Let’s begin at the beginning.
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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