A good community association manager is essential to smoothly run an HOA. While not technically a member of the board of directors, they work hand-in-hand with the board when it comes to managing the association’s operations. The specific responsibilities of community managers often vary from company to company and community to community. These responsibilities can run the gamut from financial planning to trash collection.
Since their fingers are in so many pies, it’s important that your community manager is effective. Today, we’ll go over a few of the essential qualities of a good community association manager. That way, you’ll know if yours is doing their job or if it’s time for a change. Or if you are a community manager, you’ll be able to identify some spaces for improvement.
Common Practices of Good Community Association Managers
While their work largely remains behind the scenes, community association managers are essential to any HOA. Without them, associations would fall apart at the seams. Some people are inherently good at managing community associations, while others aren’t born with the skills. Luckily, with a little time and hard work, just about anyone can be an effective community association manager.
1. Communicate Quickly and Clearly
The community manager acts as the middleman between the association and the management company. Whenever something happens — whether it has to do with maintenance, billing, or even community events — it’s up to the manager to get the word out and answer questions about what is going on.
It is important for the manager to be approachable and diplomatic. They should be good communicators and able to disseminate vital information in a timely manner. Luckily, with technology, it’s easier to make announcements.
2. Mediate and Advocate
A large part of the community manager’s job is to resolve conflicts. Disagreements will always be part of any association. Even in the most tight-knit communities, conflicts will arise.
There are a lot of different interested parties involved in community associations. The interests of each party won’t always align perfectly. Community managers must hear out all complaints, giving no particular party special treatment. Whether that be between association members, between members and the board, between the board and vendors, and occasionally, between the association and the management company.
In all cases, a good community manager must make informed decisions, researching on the issue prior to passing judgment. They must make sure to base their decisions on specific policies or governing documents. They should not let their personal feelings blur their judgment.
3. Just and Fair
In relation to the point above, a good community association manager treats all members justly and fairly. The manager must play no favorites and must keep personal relationships out of the equation. They must stay consistent in the enforcement of rules and violations.
However, this doesn’t only apply to residents a board member has taken a liking to. He/she may be tempted to treat a resident he/she dislikes harsher than others. In such a case, one must resist the urge, no matter how annoying or disagreeable the resident may be. By treating everyone in a just and fair manner, he/she eliminate the risk of losing his/her credibility as a good community association manager.
4. Always Available (Within Reason)
Crises rarely happen during business hours. As such, community association management isn’t always a strict 9-to-5 job. As the main point of contact between the board and the management company, they will often be called into action even after most people have clocked out for the day.
In addition to this kind of crisis resolution, community managers are commonly asked to attend board meetings, do violations drive-throughs, or perform other on-site duties outside of regular working hours. Great managers take these responsibilities in stride but still set boundaries.
A good community association manager shouldn’t have to be chased down. They should be easy to reach and quick to respond to problems. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t permitted to have their own lives outside of the association. After all, there is a difference between a crisis or a scheduled meeting and answering minor questions in the middle of the night.
5. Always Knowledgeable
Most board members (and association members in general) will be too involved in their own personal and professional lives to know every aspect of running an HOA inside-and-out. That’s why they hire management companies, after all.
Great community association managers will always be able to answer questions. And if they don’t have the answers, they will be able to get them quickly or point residents where they need to go. They must also be familiar with the association’s governing documents, as well as any relevant federal, state, or local laws.
Furthermore, an effective community association manager doesn’t shy away from the pursuit of knowledge. If they are afforded the chance to learn, they will take it.
6. Have Backup
Finally, the best community association managers are supported by a strong team back at the office. While the manager themselves acts as the single-point-of-contact for the community, community management requires a lot more than one person to do the job.
A community typically hires a community manager through an association management company. This company will be handling a lot of back-office work for a community, like accounting or dues collection. However, they also often have customer support staff ready to field questions from residents. This is especially helpful for large communities, where the manager simply won’t have the time to answer every question from every association member.
7. Financially Transparent
When you’re in a position of power, it can be tempting to bend the rules or fudge the books for your own benefit. While this may not directly apply to the community manager, it may apply to certain members of the board — specifically the treasurer.
It can be easy to lose the trust of community members when the manager doesn’t provide them with regular updates on the HOA’s financial condition. And when the manager loses their trust, the situation can go downhill very quickly. For this reason, community association managers must stay financially transparent.
Residents must all be kept in the loop regarding the community’s financial health, be it positive or negative. Be honest about any financial troubles the association may be going through. Hiding facts or doctoring financial reports can only sow seeds of distrust.
8. Gets the Community Involved
Not all homeowners are as active as you want them to be when it comes to meetings and activities. Some may feel unimportant or indifferent, while others may just be too shy to participate. As a community association manager, part of the job is to get all members involved.
One of the things a manager can do is plan community events that bring everyone together. It can be as simple as a potluck dinner or a bingo night. When a manager encounters residents in the community, they should take time out of their day to say hi or chit chat. Ask them if they have concerns they’d like to bring attention to.
These actions may seem small or insignificant, but they really do make a difference. After all, a community is made stronger by forging positive connections.
9. Remembers to Take a Break
It sounds like a funny thing to include on this list, but you’d be surprised just how stressful a community manager’s job can be. Community association managers constantly have to juggle tasks and complaints while keeping the community’s best interests in mind. Their responsibilities are seemingly endless.
With such an exhausting job, it can be easy to forget to take a breath every once in a while. Mental health is important. In order to stay sane and keep doing a manager’s job well, he/she must learn to take a break from time to time. Catch up with a friend or go outside for some fresh air. Just 10 minutes of alone time can do wonders. Breaks help one recenter and boost productivity.
Be a Good Community Association Manager Today
A good community association manager functions like a well-oiled machine. They gracefully resolve crises and patch up annoyances in the community with ease. They are always ready to talk and are fully committed to the communities they manage.
Not everyone has what it takes to become an effective community association manager. If these items don’t describe your manager or management company, it might be time for a change. Consider reaching out to us.