Building Trust with Your Condo Board
Trust is defined as reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or surety of a person or thing; confidence. A relationship with your clients built on trust is extremely important because, as a Condominium Property Manager, you are entrusted to manage what will often be the largest investment for an individual – their homes.
Developing a relationship based on trust is most easily accomplished through clear expectations, honesty, and integrity. In working with a new Board, you may find they are hesitant to trust you based on negative experience in the past. So where should you start?
Set Clear Expectations
Clear expectations are the foundation to successful relationships. Your contract with the condominium corporation is a good place to start as it will define the Property Manager’s scope of authority.
Beyond that however, each Board will have different expectations of their Manager. Some may wish to have weekly reporting on the Manager’s activities, while others only want to have reports from their Manager to review at their monthly Board meetings.
You also may have spending limits outlined within your management agreement, but does the Board wish for you to make discretionary expenditures within that limit, or necessary expenses only?
Having an upfront discussion about expectations will help to prevent disagreements about how you’ve implemented your scope of authority as the Manager.
Showing up when you’re supposed to is a good start. But reliability goes beyond just sitting in your office during business hours.
A reliable Property Manager proactively manages the assets of the Corporation through regular physical inspections, discussions with Residents, and Staff meetings. Being an active, reliable member of the community will help you to advise the Board about what is uniquely right for their Condominium Corporation. Being proactive makes you the first person aware of any issues that may arise, therefore, the Board will trust your leadership and advice.
Occasionally, despite your best efforts or intentions things can go wrong. You missed a deadline or provided advice that led your clients down the wrong path. When this happens, the best way to move forward while maintaining a positive relationship is to acknowledge your part in the problem, apologize, and offer solutions. Being upfront and honest in any relationship goes a long way to building and maintaining trust.
Address Facts not Rumours
Condominiums are communities, and so a little gossip between neighbours is normal and expected. What’s important for a Property Manager is to not participate in gossip and rumours. Mr. & Mrs. Jones’ divorce is no one’s business but their own. If they are screaming in the halls at all hours of the night, then the Manager must take some action to ensure that behaviour stops. Otherwise, let people keep their personal business personal.
Getting wrapped up in the rumour mill makes you appear untrustworthy. But also consider this – Mr. Jones might find himself on the Board one day. Will he respect you for how you handled the gossip about his personal life?
I can’t stress enough that communication is the key to maintaining trust in a relationship. You need to make sure you communicate with the Board about your activities as they are the ones responsible for your actions while carrying out their delegated authority in managing the community.
But also consider that communication and building a trusting relationship goes beyond your relationship with the Board. Individual unit owners need to trust you too. Help the Board understand why communication about how money is spent is important. The same holds true for communication about how projects are planned, access to records when required, or even just having an open door when they have questions.