It seems like an easy concept. It’s not. In theory, maybe. In practical pervasive application, not at all. Governance is simply the concept that allows community association board members to fulfill their fiduciary duty to their neighbors with a minimal amount of time spent at maximum efficiency. Simple enough.
The job of the board member is not unlike a member of the Board of Selectman for a small town. Oversee the policies and planning. Leave the execution to the professionals. If the job is not being done satisfactorily, replace the professionals. There’s no need to get involved in micro-managing and doing the job yourself. When was the last time you saw a Selectman directing traffic because there was gridlock downtown, or teaching school because the SAT scores were falling behind the national average? You are a member of the Board of Directors, not a landscaper, lawyer or community manager. Just because your vendors aren’t performing as you hoped does not mean you should jump in and do it yourself. It doesn’t even mean that you need to get so involved as to fully understand their job so you can direct the new vendors in a more successful effort. That’s the community manager’s job.
It sounds so simple. Actually nobody disagrees with the concept. Certainly not the community manager who just wants to do her or his job without a board member sitting on their shoulder. Certainly not the harried over-worked under experienced board member who just wants to be able to enjoy that second cup of decaf after dinner and not sit through another 4-hour board meeting. The vendors are the problem and the solution. Our problem is that as an industry we present an unavoidable temptation to the lazier unscrupulous vendor who knows they can win business by low-ball bidding. They do a terrible job, get fired, wait a few years till there’s a new board elected, go right back to the same property and do a poor job again. The professional community managers with experience get over-ruled in vendor selection by novice board members looking to be heroes by shaving $1,000 off a budget.
Well maybe, just maybe that is coming to an timely end. We’re sure going to try and make it happen by chatting with the most successful community managers in the country and finding out how they successfully implement varying forms of Governance in their diverse community association clients. One of the hallmarks of successful professional community management has been the flexibility to work with all kinds of boards. There are those run by demanding upper demographic professionals who establish high standards of performance, run their meetings themselves with the community manager as a bystander and call all the shots. There’s the community with a board of tired overworked volunteers who don’t know what they are doing, know that they don’t know, don’t want to know and just leave everything up to their community manager. When it comes to fiduciary duty, they kind of “phone it in” literally. Then there’s all you folks in between. So how can we establish guidelines to make this a successful survivable experience that you can look back at with fond memories? Watch this web site.
We’ll find out in the coming months as individual community managers share their specific experiences. We’ll look at all kinds of client boards in all kinds of different circumstances facing the varied challenges that you face, or will face, every month. We’ll look at how such complex and confusing jobs as roofing are handled with a minimum of board member time and confusion. Even the typical and usual repaint can become a nightmare if the board and manager are not working from the same theory of Governance.
Rules enforcement, budgeting, insurance and even reserve funding can all be sailed through with pleasure, a sense of satisfaction and little conflict when the right community manager is working with a board that understands how proper Governance can get the job done and aggressive micro-management can sink any ship.
We can look forward to narratives from professionals from the Left Coast, the Right Coast and the Gulf Coast. We’ll discover the commonality that makes it all work properly regardless of the personalities involved. The land of “Fruits and Nuts” can operate just as effectively as the Elitists from the Northeast. Then they each migrate to the Sunshine State and deal not only with the hurricanes, but the “don’t buy green bananas” theory of management that can still survive within the proper and comfortable confines of good Governance.
Coming soon will be the first person words of the most respected community association in the country. You’ll get the view from the smaller community as well as the large master association that oversees thousands of homes. The board members will chime in too with their view of why it works and how it can get sabotaged. Look for the first installment next month.