As a property manager or board member, fostering teamwork within an HOA can be one of the most effective strategies for your community. To foster is to encourage or promote the development of something —whether that be a person, place, or thing. The most significant part of teamwork is strategizing smaller goals to get closer to the big picture. It’s one thing to create goals and come up with ideas, but it’s another when you have to initiate and plan towards those goals. The key question is, “How can we foster the overall goal to bring results?” Short answer - by fostering your team.
How to encourage teamwork?
You want a strong leader. Someone that is passionate, responsible, and encourages others.
- HOA board president - an HOA board president is a great example of someone that can be trusted as a leader. The president should exemplify leadership, trust, positivity, the desire for change and most importantly, encourage others around them. One of the sole purposes of an HOA president is to unite people together so that they may connect and build towards a larger goal.
2. Clear roles and rules
In order to encourage teamwork, you must have clear roles and rules. Unfortunately, this has been said to be the most overlooked rule in creating teamwork. Oftentimes problems can be put aside or ignored because of a lack of accountability.
3. Communicating goals
When you work in an HOA, it’s easy to get distracted and pulled aside into other projects. As a leader, a large part of your responsibility is to keep everyone on track, especially when it comes to meeting a team goal. One suggestion, encourage your team to be open with their progress - never hesitate to inform your team of any concerns or questions. As a result, this will create a sense of unity and willingness to help one another.
A large part of fostering teamwork comes with preparation and the opportunity to surround yourself with proactive people. When you exercise proactive behaviors, you create a persona of trust. People feel safe, transparent, and obligated to do their part in helping others reach their goals. Here are just a few examples of proactive behaviors:
- Positive attitude
- Energetic environment
5. Encourage consensus
No one likes being pressured into making a decision that they may disagree with. When making agreements or discussing sensitive topics, be sure to allow everyone a portion of time to speak — this will allow everyone the opportunity to have their say and opinion. Be sure to keep things professional and always remember to lead by example. A few additional benefits of encouraging consensus may include:
- Requires a commitment to work together as a team
- Equializes distribution of power within each team member
- Increases participation
- Creates a shared understanding
Build your team
1. Who and how is your team built
In order to foster teamwork, you must understand who and how your team works together. An essential part of this step is to maneuver your leaders in the right direction. Whether you’re a property manager or board member, you both have a vital part in how your team is managed.
- Property managers - As the property manager, your board of directors will most likely already have a team in place, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a say. You’re a born leader and you have a responsibility to tune in when it’s most important - your role obligates you to offer direction and recommendations.
- Board of directors - When you're part of a board of directors, a large part of your responsibility is to build a team of leaders. Regardless of what role you were elected in as, a successful team must establish everyone’s leadership omnipresence —your vibe and presence that circles you on a day-to-day basis.
- For example, your board's treasure may be a wiz at numbers and a star board member, but they’re always willing to contribute their time outside of the board to help smaller committees that may struggle in this area. Take for instance your event planning committee — they may not be the most savvy when it comes to building financial spreadsheets or obtaining quotes. Your omnipresence is all about encouraging involvement, so you volunteer your time to chip in and help — at the end of the day, you’re all on the same team.
2. What to look for in a leader
Here are a few factors to look for when building your team of leaders:
- They educate themselves - Most HOA board members come into the association as rookies, so it’s no surprise that things may be a little confusing at first. But not to worry, a natural leader desires to learn and better themselves in their role.
- They’re transparent - One of the most important traits of being a leader is to be transparent, especially when it involves your HOAs financials. Someone with financial transparency is more prone to understand the big picture - they always have the HOA’s best interest at heart.
- They’re encouraging - As a leader of an HOA board, you’re obligated to lead by example. A large part of this includes encouraging your community to get involved. A leader encourages feedback, provides answers, and encourages all members of the HOA to take part in the community outreach.
- They manage risk well - As a leader of the board of directors, you may experience high risk situations. A large part of being a leader is your ability to see beyond the problem and proactively manage risks. A leader thinks before they speak, and they’re able to provide a plan-of-action.
3. Develop your experts
You're building the ultimate dream team! In order to make this happen, you must establish the skills necessary to build each team successfully. In a perfect world, you would love to have everyone tune in, but in order to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen, assigning roles within each team will be your first step to fostering your dream team.
- Financial and treasurer - consider members with experience in accounting, financials or investments.
- Social committee - consider members with experience in party planning, community work, or anyone that has a strong ability to proactive plan.
- Social media committee - this role helps moderate online homeowner forums. They also create announcements and content to outsourced social media channels. When filling this role, consider someone that is not only tech savvy, but also has experience in website management or social media marketing. A creative mindset is also a huge perk!
What can prohibit teams from growing?
1. Pointing the finger
We often find this problem when an HOA may experience a lack of accountability or organization. The stress of being a property manager or board member can be overwhelming, especially when you lack support. Or even worse, built-up resentment about past issues that have yet to be solved.
- Solution - One way to help resolve past conflicts is to encourage unity. Although it can be a sensitive subject, addressing all parties involved is sometimes the best solution. As a leader: be forward with your goals, hold people accountable and most importantly, listen — remember there’s always two sides of a story. As a leader, your job is to set an example and lead, not follow.
2. Lack of being proactive
Preparing ahead is an essential part of being proactive. When you foster teamwork, preparation is critical to planning goals. But keep in mind, you can’t expect everyone to be the proactive trouper that you are. When your team lacks proactive behavior, projects and tasks will fall behind. As a suggestion, always have an agenda and be transparent about the overall purpose of the project or task.
3. Lack of communication
One of the most common problems in business and teamwork is the lack of communication and openness that others may have with one another.
- Spotlights on me- Take for example someone that likes to be praised for their individual work. You may find overtime that they prefer to keep projects and tasks to themselves.
- The event planning scenario - Let’s say you’re in a committee meeting and to your surprise, Mary Sue, the head of event planning tunes in on your assigned project for the upcoming community BBQ. To make matters worse, you both end up finding out that you were working on the same task this whole time - organizing table counts and food arrangements. Due to the lack of openness and communication on both ends, productivity time is lost and the project suffers.
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