CM Magazine Cover
From the Winter 2023 Issue

6 Things Boards Do That Make Managers Quit

The Manager Shortage

Your Condo || By Anthony Ing

We've all been there at some point, or heard the stories of a dysfunctional condo board. Whether it's unclear expectations, too many meetings, lack of leadership or toxic in-fighting, it's a situation no property manager wants to face. Regrettably, these scenarios are far too common and lead to manager burnout and turnover.

Having worked with over 800 condos and regularly speaking with managers, I can confidently say that ineffective board dynamics is a leading cause of manager resignations. When a property manager departs, it not only places significant strain and reputational risk on the property management firm but also entails considerable costs, as filling a position and properly training a new hire can take weeks, if not months.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing board dynamics, this article aims to dissect common challenges faced by managers and provide insights into potential strategies for improvement.

Mistake 1: Setting unclear goals or expectations

We frequently come across stories of managers grappling with large numbers of competing projects, objectives, daily responsibilities, and ad hoc requests, often facing scrutiny when they fall short of meeting the board's expectations. When a manager is forced to choose between conflicting expectations, the outcome is typically a stressed and overwhelmed manager.

How can you avoid this situation? One solution is to make prioritizing tasks a team effort. Acknowledge with your board that you’re unable to humanly get everything done in a short time frame. Provide a proposed schedule of all of your tasks that reflects how you see your priorities, and welcome feedback on how the rest of the team sees things to ensure alignment.

Mistake 2: Having too many operational constraints

This may arise due to unclear instructions, slow communication, bureaucratic obstacles, or any other hindrance slowing the manager's ability to get the job done. As a result, progress grinds to a halt, leaving the manager feeling powerless. This can lead to a downward spiral, resulting in diminished morale, heightened frustration, and a general sense of apathy.

How can you avoid this situation? Try to use influence to improve your situation. This might mean having difficult conversations with some or all of your board to call out whatever is blocking you. The quicker these impediments are acknowledged and resolved, the sooner they can be eliminated, clearing the path for you to get your job done.

Mistake 3: Holding too many meetings

Property managers are brought in to oversee building management, but all too often they find themselves sitting through too many unproductive board meetings. Spending too much time in meetings can be highly stressful and tiring, and can result in managers disengaging, losing motivation, and squandering precious work hours. In a profession where time is scarce, managers inundated by extensive meeting planning may begin to question their core purpose.

How can you avoid this situation? See if meetings can be shortened or eliminated altogether by making them more efficient. Can status updates be done upfront through email? Can any agenda items or brainstorming be coordinated ahead of the meeting? Can the meetings be conducted virtually? Can a minute taker be hired? Be candid with your board about the time required to plan a meeting and how that trades off with work being done.

Mistake 4: Failing to secure a safe work environment

Harassment is a significant concern within the condominium community. Since the pandemic, we hear over and over again that politics has coarsened in society, with people frequently failing to treat one another with the same level of civility as in the past. It's disheartening to hear stories of managers enduring continual bullying and verbal abuse. If a board neglects to protect its manager, it shouldn't be surprised if the manager chooses to leave.

How can you avoid this situation? Document any incidents of being harassed. Your safety comes first. If there are any issues that can't be resolved or if you ever feel seriously threatened by someone at work, don't hesitate to report it to the board. And if the harassment escalates, don't be afraid to involve the corporation’s solicitor or the police if needed.

Mistake 5: Creating a hostile team culture

At times, board interactions can devolve into chaos, with individual members forming factions or engaging in persistent disagreements. These dynamics are counterproductive, leaving property managers dedicating a disproportionate amount of time to navigating bureaucracy rather than focusing on their core tasks. This can deflate a manager and drain their energy reserves.

How can you avoid this situation? Connect with board members you trust and share your desire to move beyond bureaucracy. Express your personal challenges and encourage them to do the same. At some point, a difficult conversation should take place with all parties involved. The conversation will require active listening and must conclude by aligning on a shared vision. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

Mistake 6: Neglecting a manager's opinion

Managers often possess insights and perspectives that can be highly valuable. Unfortunately, boards frequently fail to actively consider these viewpoints, and at times, they neglect to foster an environment where managers feel psychologically safe enough to openly share their opinions. By being underutilized and underappreciated, a manager fails to develop a deeper sense of purpose from their role.

How can you avoid this situation? While you may think it's not your role to voice your thoughts, remember that staying silent isn't beneficial for the team. Prior to meetings, prepare yourself with well-reasoned arguments and be ready to address potential counterarguments. Your insights and information have the potential to greatly contribute to the success of your condominium or project.

It's true that you can't change every aspect of your board's behaviour, but directing your attention toward your own actions and what's within your control will empower you and enhance your productivity in the workplace. Concentrating on the elements we can influence, such as our behaviour, attitudes, and responses, paves the way for increased success and a reduction in stress.


Anthony Ing is the Co-Founder of Condonexus, a leading electronic proxy collection and hosted virtual meeting service provider. Condonexus is trusted by 800+ condos managed by 50+ property management firms in Ontario to host virtual and hybrid owners’ meetings.

Back to Latest Issue

Search Archives

Issue Archive
Article Categories

CM Magazine