Ten tips for reducing your condo manager’s stress

by | Condo & HOA Focused, Director, Property Manager, Wellness

Is your condo or HOA manager stressed? Condo managers are special people working on the front lines of condo corporations and face challenging people regularly.  These people could be owners who might be angry about something or directors who are busy and sometimes very demanding.

Fewer and fewer people seem willing to take on this high-stress job, it seems, as the industry faces a declining number of certified managers. Meanwhile, the number of condo corporations continues to increase. Condo boards may soon face a crisis in finding good condo managers to handle their operations.

Creating less tension in the condo is one way to support managers exposed to high-stress levels within their work environments. Here are ten measures boards can take to help managers thrive, increasing their likelihood to stay on the job.

Be organized

Low-stress boards organize themselves well. These boards have job descriptions for directors, hold meetings regularly, come to meetings prepared, understand the meaning of “fiduciary responsibility,” and a host of other items that improve the overall organization of the condo board. Being well organized makes life less stressful for property managers and helps them provide the kind of service that owners and boards demand.

Create a code of conduct policy

A code of conduct spells out expected behaviours. One part is how owners and directors communicate with property managers. The policy clearly identifies that interactions must be courteous and professional at all times; in other words, we expect owners and directors to be nice.

Being nice doesn’t mean an owner can’t raise an issue of concern to the manager. But it does mean that an owner always behaves courteously and professionally. Directors likewise maintain the same standards of decorum with owners, each other and their manager.

Annual meetings can include mini educational presentations that cover expectations for owners interactions with the condo’s managers. Directors step in if any owner transgresses the policy. Managers must never be worried about receiving nasty emails or facing confrontations.

Never make feeble excuses

Yes, directors are unpaid, but they never make excuses for not getting a task done on time because they are volunteers. Managers are far too busy to be kept waiting when directors fail to meet deadlines. Knowing directors are reliable helps mitigate stress arising from the uncertainty of unfulfilled duties.

Set expectations

These unwritten rules go beyond the contract that the board has signed with the management company. For example, directors know that their role is to govern, and they never expect their managers to take on this role. Directors always ask their managers for advice and recommendations but do not expect the manager to make decisions for them. Managers manage, and boards govern.

Manage disagreements

Directors and managers will disagree. Hopefully, serious differences occur only occasionally. The best directors maintain professional relationships with their managers at all times. Personal feelings do not enter board meetings, and when conflicts do arise, resolve them as quickly as possible.

Be “all for one and one for all”

Debate and discussion fill board meetings, but once a decision gets made, all directors need to support the outcome. When appropriate the board can share decisions with owners without commentary that differs from the board decision.

When managers receive clear instructions and guidance from the board, they always know what to do. If more than one director offers instructions or is unclear, condo managers will be stressed while figuring out what to do next.

Keep up to date on current condo affairs

Being a director means keeping up-to-date on condo affairs by following relevant blogs, surfing the Internet and attending educational sessions. Managers need to save time for other tasks rather than educate directors on every intricacy of condo life.

Be prepared for meetings

Given that most board and manager interactions occur during meetings, time in meetings must be well spent. Every director must promise to come to meetings fully prepared and ready to contribute productively—directors who are unprepared waste everyone’s time. Managers look to the board for instruction. If a lack of preparation delays the board from making a decision or results in a wrong decision it will likely delay the manager from implementing a task.

Get minutes drafted fast

Meeting minutes are essential documents. Draft minutes need to be provided as soon as possible after meetings because directors and especially managers need that information. Minutes document the board’s decisions and are an essential information tool for the manager who works from these decisions. Drafting minutes quickly reduces the potential for confusion arising when directors disagree on decisions made during a meeting.

Be open to technology

New technology has already changed the way we work. Boards need to be willing to learn about new technology that could help streamline and reduce stress in a manager’s work.

A bonus

Implementing these strategies will significantly reduce condo managers’ stress loads. They also create a welcome but unintended consequence of lowering stress among directors who benefit from increased efficiencies and organization. A win-win result benefits all.

Postscript; Covid added to condo manager stress

Since this article’s original publication in the March issue of CondoBusiness, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and upended the work of condo managers and added to their workload and stress levels. It means that directors need to be even more mindful of the work expected from their managers. Failure to implement some of the suggestions could push managers over their limits and accelerate their exit from the industry.

This article was originally published in Condo Business Magazine.