When you work as a manager or board member, you’re expected to do your fair share of collaboration. Keeping tabs on every meeting and member can sometimes be overwhelming to the point that managers lose a sense of self and cooperation among one another. Although this is never a good thing, there are ways to help increase communication and collaboration among board members and managers.
Let’s start by looking at some underlying issues on why an HOA board and its managers may lack collaboration and communication.
Common communication challenges that occur between an HOA board and managers that can cause poor collaboration
Poor listening - No one likes the feeling of being ignored. It’s entirely normal for any homeowner to raise questions or concerns about their HOA community. Many times the main issue is from a lack of communication or clarity. If ignored, homeowners can create a lack of appreciation, validation, or trust.
Homeowner complaints are left unaddressed
HOA members loss a sense of confidence in their HOA board
Lack of involvement between community members and their board is formed
Hierarchy problems - In most situations, an HOA manager will act as the communities leader. Although the HOA board has the power of authority, the HOA manager established the structure and organization of the community. When a manager is absent from communicating this issue to their community, the HOA may experience many hierarchy problems. Other problems include:
HOA boards can clash over different opinions
A lack of communication between vendors and contractors
Board meetings can become unorganized
Abuse of power across the HOA
HOA bylaws - The HOA bylaws are the foundation of any HOA community — they dictate how the community should function. When homeowners are not given guidance on accessing their bylaws or CC&R, members may create unclear rules.
A rise in HOA violations may occur
Financial mistakes are easily made
Community members fail to comply with local, state, and federal laws
Emotional management - Keep in mind that board members are also homeowners. They, too, can experience frustrations and problems just like any homeowner. Personal ties can sometimes prevent making sound judgments and create favoritism and a lack of communication among other members. Other factors include:
Failure to keep important information confidential
Lack of objectivity
Lack of professionalism
Read the signs when collaboration seems low
We’re only human — it can be easy to ignore the signs of an HOA community that lacks communication and collaboration among its board and managers. As a member of higher authority, it’s essential to read the signs. For example:
Not every idea is a great idea - An idea may look great on paper, but the reality is that the concept may not be doable for many factors such as financials, management, or involvement. When board members and managers fail to access projects without any lack of responsibility, a community may be headed for significant issues down the road.
Everyone becomes a victim - A significant sign of miscommunication and lack of collaboration is when authority figures point fingers at other members. It can be hard to see the other side of the story when you’ve been hurt or mistreated. When a manager sees themself as the victim with no desire to hear out the other side, this can only lead to one thing — a war between managers and board members. As a result, homeowners begin to sense these issues and create misconstrued assumptions about their community.
Micromanagers - One of the worst signs of poor communication and collaboration is when board members and managers micromanage their community and teams. Members want to feel respected for their role in the community. When micromanaged, it’s easy to create a lack of trust or ability to communicate due to the fear that the board will micromanage them.
Avoiding physical meetings - A manager and HOA board member must balance their communication between behind-the-scenes and in-person communication. When managers are absent, members can start to assume that they are purposely being ignored or not taken seriously. Other issues may include a lack of information sharing and the inability to follow up or overlook important community meetings.
Five tips for increasing collaboration between managers and board members
1.) Third-party HOA software applications
A great way to increase collaboration among managers and board members is to incorporate a third-party software application within their community. Applications such as this work great for improving communication, providing a sense of security for homeowners, and operating the day-to-day tasks necessary in managing an HOA community.
TownSq works as a leading HOA community application that provides HOA communities with the ability to operate and effectively communicate. Other features include:
A community website
Centralize tasks and operations
Organizing financial records and assessments
and much more
2.) Communication committee
When you work as a board member or manager, you’re expected to have everything together! But the reality of the matter is that we’re not all perfect — managers make mistakes just like you and I. Managers encourage the community to communicate, but it can be easy to turn the mirror the other way. As a solution, consider creating a communication committee for both the board and their managers to increase communication and collaboration. In addition, this can also help address issues that may lack acknowledgment or trust.
3.) Have fun outside of your HOA meetings
It’s essential to create a sense of respect and trust among your board members. We go from meeting-to-meeting, and never take the time to get to know one another. Consider hosting special events and team-building activities for board members and their managers as a way to engage and work on team-building skills. Some examples may include: community service projects, taking a ropes course, or starting an intramural league.
4.) Show appreciation
Another great way to increase collaboration is by showing gratitude. Consider creating an awards committee or hosting an awards luncheon as a way to show board members and managers appreciation for all their efforts and accomplishments. Don’t also forget to include fun awards such as the HOA DJ award, HOA class clown, or even the best chef award.
5.) Q&A/Feedback forms
Not every manager may feel comfortable communicating specific concerns or feedback to the entire board up-front. To address these issues, consider creating a Q&A/Feedback form for those who may want to address particular problems or concerns in private. As a result, members will gain a higher sense of trust among both the board and managers.