The responsibilities of property managers include a wide array of tasks, from the physical to the administrative. While many of these jobs involve concrete things—like sending out monthly bills, filing paperwork, or going to meetings—equally important is managing the people involved with the building. That includes everyone from the building’s staff, to the residents to those on the board and committees.
At the same time, a manager needs to deal with employees working for his or her own company, such as bookkeepers and individual property managers. The manager may be dealing with employees who were hired by a previous management team, and possibly some who have seen a number of management companies come and go.
Keeping everyone happy and harmonious is not always an easy task. Many property managers face uncooperative boards, a dysfunctional staff or unhappy residents, and it’s up to them to keep everything working. “Some red flags … are when board members don’t answer emails or phone calls when the manager needs a quick decision to be made or answers after the fact,” says Denise Lindsey, a property manager and vice president of Edison-based Access Property Management. “Another is board members that do not show up for board meetings, or are consistently late. Many times, if there is not a quorum of board members, votes cannot be taken and a whole month may go by without an important issue solved. When board members have personal agendas, that can take away from the business of the association, too.”
“The fact that unit owners are willing to serve their community is a terrific thing. However, once in a while you will see an owner join the board with some type of personal agenda,” Bob Rogers, community manager for Taylor Management in Whippany, agrees. “A good manager/board can see this pretty quickly and make it clear to this new member that they have a fiduciary duty to serve the community as a whole and not just what works best for them. Another characteristic that I see once in awhile is board members not listening to their professionals. Whether it is the association attorney, manager, engineer or auditor, they all have valuable input and are likely better versed on a particular subject than the board member.”
Every building seems to have its own methods of human resource management and conflict resolution for managers dealing with dysfunctional, apathetic, or chaotic boards and buildings, and as long as it works, no way is the wrong way.