What makes an effective community manager? The HOA community manager is the unsung hero of the HOA community. Between balancing the HOA day-to-day operations, a community manager must be both the friendly high spirited manager and the community HOA enforcer of rules and guidelines. Not to mention the endless list of responsibilities such as maintaining the community's safety, assisting in financial decisions, living arrangements, collecting dues, and much more.
For an HOA to run effectively, a community manager must be effective. Not to mention the HOA Superman! Effective management is vital to any organization in that it involves goal setting and a large amount of planning. They must visualize the current and long-term effects of any situation, all while being a positive influence on the community. As the saying goes, “happy wife, happy life” — an HOA manager may say, “happy HOA, happy life.”
A community manager should be well-versed in not only general HOA policies but also protocols. Most importantly, a manager should be an expert in their own community. Being educated about the state, local laws, and regulations is key to understanding the parameters by which your own community can operate. In addition, a strong knowledge of understanding your state's CC&Rs is foundational to operating effectively.
Communication is key. As the liaison between the Board of Directors and the community members, being a good communicator (and listener) is essential. When in times of conflict, communication will become an important asset — especially when it comes to delivering your message. When in this situation, be sure to consider all sides. Use neutral tones when speaking, and most importantly, keep an open mind. In addition to communication, remember that communicating is more than just speaking. As a community manager, you will also find yourself writing emails, sending letters, and announcing notices daily. Keep in mind that a reader will always recognize an authentic voice by your style of words and tone. Communicating your ideas and message will be not only a reflection on you but also on your community.
While much of the role of a community association manager focuses on administrative work in an office, it is vital to know the community – both from the property and community member's aspect. For example, consider taking the time to walk the property on Monday mornings. This can become a good habit to start your day to observe any maintenance that may need to be taken care of from the prior weekend. Greet tenants and learn about them while also sharing about yourself. This will establish a level of trust critical to navigating both the positives (planning events that are relevant to your tenants) and negative (effectively resolving disputes).
While you don’t have to be a CPA to operate a fiscally secure community, knowing general accounting best practices is imperative to completing many administrative tasks associated with the community association manager role. This will aid in monthly, quarterly, and annual budgeting as well as fee assessments and collections.
A community association manager juggles many competing agendas. A community manager will often work as a third-party mediator between the board and community members, member-to-member conflict, and vendor management. Here is where having a strong understanding of effective communication, strong listening skills, and a willingness to find a middle ground between both parties will make an effective manager.
Suppose we’ve learned anything over the past year, the only constant changes, which rings true for community managers the most. The best community association managers can adapt innovatively when challenges arise, all while initiating quick solutions. Upholding policies, procedures, and bylaws is important; however, considering individual and global circumstances will allow you to reach amicable solutions that appease both the board and your tenants.
Q. Has there been any changes to the role of being an effective community manager since COVID-19.
Community managers should respond flexibly and responsibly to COVID-19 changes for their communities.