I was speaking to a landscaping contractor whom I have worked with at various properties over the years, and we try to stay connected; although we are not working together at the moment. At the end of the conversation, he said “you are one of the few truly professional property managers around anymore”. I reflexively thanked him, but felt a small sting as I have unfortunately heard this opinion from other vendors, board members and owners. It is less a compliment to me, and more of an indictment of a profession I choose, and an industry that is failing to establish the value of professional management.
My colleague was using the title “property manager” in the broad sense, but his comment refers to community association managers specifically. Although I am appreciative of his praise, I want to believe he is wrong. I want to challenge his condemnation. Allow me to offer a few reasons he may have this impression:
- Community association managers are only effective when they have the support of the board of directors, and cooperation from the community. Often, managers are sidelined by directors who have a tight rein over virtually every aspect of the community, and there is very little opportunity for the manager to provide real value.
- In many cases, managers are hired without any relative experience, and are not afforded adequate training either at the start of their job, or ever. On-the-job training will inevitably create a series of missteps that will reveal their competency level. It takes a real “self-starter” to recognize their limitations and seek to correct personal weaknesses or professional deficiencies.
- The casual nature of the communities (they live there; we work there) can create a lackadaisical attitude that extends to their appearance and a minimal effort to present oneself in a professional manner. I regret to say that I have seen managers in flip-flops, shorts, tank tops, wrinkled clothing, wearing the same clothes two days in a row, and inappropriate “club wear” at the office! In one community, the board had to purchase a table cover for board meetings due to the shortness of a manager’s skirts.
These examples do not represent a majority of the managers I know; however, if vendors, directors, and owners encounter this variety of managers, they will paint us all with the broad brush of unprofessionalism.
I will accept the challenge of reversing the notion that I am one of the few truly professional managers one manager at a time. Who will join me?
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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