Communication - The Board, Managers, and Residents
Outline for Improving Associations Communications
The Role of Board Members, Managers, Residents, and the Expectations Inherent in These Positions
By Marcy L. Kravit, CMCA, AMS
Objective: To educate community association’s managers, boards, and owners regarding the fundamentals of conducting themselves in a healthy working relationship.
I. Management’s Responsibilities
Managers play a very important part of the success of the community.
A. Offer input and implement the decisions made by the board of directors within policies and guidelines set by the board—in conjunction with the community’s documents. Speak up on the “mechanics” of getting the job done so the board understands what is involved, both in terms of cost and time.
B. Protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents, employees, and guests. Coordinate and document in writing all recommendations pertaining to this task. Suggest drafting a strategic plan for the association, prioritizing and setting their goals. Maintain architectural control to enhance property values and protect the lifestyles of the community.
C. Oversee and delegate tasks to outsourced vendor services and employees. Develop objectives for all employees pertaining to their responsibilities that contribute to the efficiency of the association’s operations. Build up employee morale.
D. Designate one board member as the point of contact regarding the objectives, polices, and procedures in order to carry out the day-to-day procedures and sign off on all contracts. This is usually the president.
E. Perform only duties that fall within the scope of work of a licensed manager. Seek the services of the professionals such as attorneys and insurance agents. Do not interpret the law, draft contracts, perform accounting, engineering, or carry out any licensed contractors work (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, elevator, pool service (must be certified). Managers should take every precaution not to perform as if they are a professional of any kind, unless they are duly licensed in that profession and have authorization to perform in that capacity.
F. Conflict of Interest—Disclose the interest management has in a company bidding for a job. Obtain competitive bids.
G. Maintain a positive and professional attitude and demeanor. Refrain from harassment, name calling, intimidating, derogatory remarks and comments, personal attacks, etc.
H. Document advice and communications in writing.
I. Encourage education to the board. Offer your experience and expertise. Serve as an educational resource by attending seminars and workshops, reading publications, and encourage joining educational industry related organizations. Encourage the association to fund participation to these organizations and seminars. The association will benefit.
J. Protect the board from engaging in discussions that lead to personality conflicts, prejudices, discrimination (age, race, gender, religious beliefs, disability status, etc) by causing stereotypes of individuals or classes of people.
K. Avoid offering legal advice. Avoid being heavy-handed and political. Avoid sharing confidential matters with members who do not have a fiduciary duty to the association. There is sometimes a temptation to justify a board decision. Avoid engaging in these conversations.
L. Suggest alternative methods of communication. In addition to posting meeting notices, suggest that the board makes phone calls and speaks to unit owners, publish a newsletter, create a website, use questionnaires or surveys, establish email lists, and recruit volunteers to elicit responses from owners.
M. Supervise, oversee, and give direction to all staff members. Act as the liaison between board members, staff, and residents. Conduct regular staff meetings. Complete the following tasks:
- Attend regular monthly board meetings and annual meetings;
- Prepare management reports;
- Prepare monthly board meeting agendas and board packages;
- Prepare and draft association meeting minutes;
- Prepare and mail deed restriction violation notices;
- Administer requests for property modifications;
- Prepare and distribute meeting notices to members;
- Maintain member roster;
- Maintain renter, lessee, and resale list;
- Work with legal counsel;
- Review insurance coverage;
- Maintain files;
- Promote volunteerism and participation to new owners;
- Monitor maintenance contracts;
- Obtain Bids;
- Report violations to the board;
- Process routine and emergency work orders;
- Coordinate with vendors and routine services such as pest control, trash removal, irrigation, landscaping, pool service, fire systems maintenance, security, gate access;
- Maintain contractors licensing and insurance;
- Negotiate contracts;
- Implement Preventative Maintenance and Hurricane Preparedness Program;
- Perform routine property inspections;
- Receive quality professional and accurate recommendations on issues such as budgets, reserves, preventative maintenance, customer service, obtaining and reviewing insurance coverage, administration, governance, contracts, the law, and rules enforcement;
- Maintain communication with the entire board and keep them abreast of community business, ensuring that the residents and board members receive regular information regarding the association’s activities.
1. Allow the entire board to provide input regarding association business, policies, and procedures.
O. Always be aware of the safety and well-being of all owners.
P. Propose all scheduled social functions to the board of directors.
Q. Encourage volunteer participation.
A wide variety of interests and agendas lead to differing attitudes toward involvement in the community’s business affairs. Board members, owners, and managers must share the responsibility in holding the key to the bright health of the community. Together they can provide direction in guiding the association in a positive manner. Respect, recognition, consideration, and appreciation can go a long way toward a professional, well-run community. With the right approach, all parties will display enthusiasm, respect, and skills in satisfying their need in facing the challenges and establishing a successful association.
II. Board Members Responsibilities
A. Decision maker for the community association—vote on issues at duly called meetings.
a. Directors serve at the discretion of the membership and may be recalled at any time without cause.
b. Education is the key to every industry and should be considered for the association’s directors, i.e. Join CAI and obtain publications, state division info, library, local industry related schools, and professional organizations.
B. Fiduciary obligations—represent the highest level of responsibility under the law. The agent and the board will be held to the same standards that applies to a guardian or person who has custodial care of someone else or someone else’s money. Webster’s Dictionary defines fiduciary as “Holding something in trust for another” this translates to acting in good faith for the benefit of the membership. If you could have known, you should have known. Accept and seek advice from experts in their respective fields. Don’t assume; take it one step further to seek counsel. Better to spend the money to obtain the information you need now, than down the road potentially setting yourself up for spending a lot of money on litigation. Board members must exercise due care and fiduciary care in all dealings with the association and its interests. This includes careful review of financial matters, preparation, reading and review of minutes, and attention to issues that are of concern to the association.
C. Set uniform guidelines and policies for rules enforcement: no favoritism; allow management to carry out the enforcement uniformly without micromanaging. As board members, appoint committee members to make suggestions and recommendations. The committees, if properly formed, can contribute and help expedite the associations business.
D. Do not request management to perform duties not within their scope of work that would jeopardize their license.
E. Do not give direction to the staff; this is management’s role. Do not micromanage. Act as an advisory to management. Allow management to manage. It is unnecessary to spend countless hours in the management office. If you have a good manager, you should only need to attend a board meeting and vote on the issues at hand.
F. Understand your financials, budget, and reserves. Two signatures required of board members only! Board members monitor the overall financial health of their association by reviewing annual and monthly financial reports. As part of their fiduciary responsibility, board members are actively involved in making sure that the community realistically has the money it needs to operate. This includes that the board ensures that budgets are planned, proposed, and followed so that adequate financial resources exist to operate and properly maintain and provide the necessary services to the association.
G. Internal controls—establish an amount of money to spend for repairs/bid requirements.
H. Conflicts of Interests
a. Waiving late fees of friends.
b. Disclose personal affiliation and abstain from voting to prevent conflict of interest. This would include family members in bidding for financial gain.
c. Conflicts arise when a BOD with knowledge acquired from serving on the board takes a business opportunity that is available to the association. Example: bidding on a foreclosure without disclosing to the board of directors.
d. All board members vote, including the President, unless it is a financial conflict of interest.
I. Maintain a positive and professional attitude and demeanor.
a. Refrain from harassment, name calling, intimidation, derogatory remarks and comments, personal attacks, etc.
J. Consider and adopt rules that will govern membership and board of directors in conducting meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order.
K. Listen to the wants and needs of the residents; no personal agendas. Think about what is in the best interest of the association.
L. Think and be objective to the issues, needs, and wants of the majority of the community, i.e. just because you don’t use the pool, you do not want the pool to be resurfaced.
M. Each board member needs to provide leadership and each officer needs to serve their position. The association acts through its officers and agents. All positions are equally important, however, each position is unique and each has specific responsibilities. For optimum performance in accomplishing the association’s goals, each board member must work as an individual player on the team, knowing his or her duties, which, in turn, can make the team win and succeed as a whole.
President—presides over meetings, orchestrates and coordinates activities, and develops the team. Works with manager in drafting the agenda.
Vice President—substitutes for the President in the event the President is not available. Stay informed of Presidents agenda, duties and tasks.
Secretary/Treasurer—sometimes combined in one position, ensures minutes and meetings notices are drafted and records of the association are well kept. A
good secretary is invaluable and must have good organizational skills. Treasurer—reviews financial records, ensures timely payment of invoices, makes necessary
investment of funds, takes lead role in coordinating the development of the budget with the manager, manages reserve funds, and monitors accounts.
N. All board members shall exhibit professional courtesy to all community association management professionals. Such professional courtesy shall include not interfering with the community management professionals, contractors, vendors, suppliers, and employees.
O. A board member engaged in the practice of another profession shall not perform such other services for the association while serving as a board member, if the performance of such services is likely to result in a conflict of interest, real or perceived.
P. Maintain a positive attitude toward fellow members and toward employees so as to maintain morale and promote efficient employee performance.
Q. Refrain from harassing, intimidating, or publicly making derogatory remarks about fellow board members, association members, guests, employees, developers, or the manager.
R. Represent the total community and not any special interest group and use the influence to enhance the reputation of the association and maintain mutual respect between members of the association, management, and the board of directors. Provide for questionnaires and surveys.
S. Attend all board meetings and actively participate in them. Be prepared for meetings. Acceptance of the responsibilities, commitment, dedication, loyalty, and time involved as an individual serving on a board of directors.
T. Support the manager in doing the best job possible.
U. Praise and recognize the positive efforts of staff, contractors, committee members and management.
V. Always be aware of the safety and well-being of all owners.
III. Owner’s Responsibilities
A. Do not give direction to staff; this is management’s role.
B. Read and understand Chapter 718, 719 or 720 (whichever applies) your community documents, rules, and regulations and adhere to them.
C. Join committees; attend and participate at meetings.
Committees provide a forum in which one may socialize and satisfy a need to express one’s input, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
D. Come out and vote!
E. Provide association access to the unit (if a condo) for maintenance issues.
F. Obtain board approval prior to alterations or modifications to your unit or home.
G. Obtain adequate insurance to cover the interior of your unit.
H. Maintain and make necessary repairs to property to avoid violations. Maintain architectural uniformity and conformity.
I. If you receive a violation, perform necessary work in a timely manner. Do not take it personally; this is for the association’s benefit and protection of property values.
J. Maintain a positive and professional attitude and demeanor.
a. Refrain from harassment, name calling, intimidation, derogatory remarks and comments, personal attacks, etc.
K. Owners should not tell association employees what to do. The manager is their sole supervisor. If an owner has a complaint, he or she should direct the complaint to the manager.
L. Pay his or her share of expenses (maintenance assessments) for the operations and maintenance of the common areas in a timely manner.
A wide variety of interests and agendas lead to differing attitudes toward involvement in the community’s business affairs. Board members, owners and managers must share the responsibility in holding the key to the bright health of the community. Together they can provide direction in guiding the association in a positive manner. Respect, recognition, consideration, and appreciation can go a long way toward a professional, well-run community. With the right approach, all parties will display enthusiasm, respect, and skills in satisfying their need in facing the challenges and establishing a successful association.