Communication is a dynamic process characterized by a series of give and take moves in which ideas, feelings and attitudes are all exchanged verbally and non-verbally to achieve some specific end. Communication is at the center of all avenues through which we connect with one another. Communication is the transfer of information and its meaning. Communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication.
Communication rests at the heart of any relationship. The relationship between the association, board of directors and manager is a complicated relationship that requires openness, honesty, dedication and strong communication. Communication to the membership, no matter what form it takes, is a crucial aspect of leadership.
If you are committed to developing and maintaining communication in your association, you will have happy, more content residents and you will see less conflict and apathy. You will have created harmony in the community.
Strong communication skills are not only recommended, but are required for board members. To be effective, you have to deal with conflicts or challenges without expressing anger or loss of control. It is your responsibility, as a board member, to make sure that each owner understands key information.
An example of good communication with the owners is:
The west parking lot in your community needs to be resurfaced. You must relay all the information that an owner would need. Give the owners details; anticipate all questions they might ask and leave no question unanswered.
- When was the decision made to resurface?
- Why was this decision made?
- Who will perform the work?
- What much will it cost me?
- How long will I be inconvenienced?
- Where will I park?
By communicating with your owners, you alleviate a lot of the confusion and frustration that most owners complain about to their boards.The best boards of directors, communicate regularly and positively. They are open to suggestions and recommendations. Residents can accept a mistake, an error an overcharge, if it is told to them openly in a meeting or through another form of communication. All it takes is one owner at an annual meeting accusing the board of overcharging his account to harm the board’s hard-earned respect by the members.
As board members, you must have good communication skills to cope with and change individual attitudes in your community. Dealing with an owner one on one is difficult enough but having to deal with that person in a group setting such as a board meeting poses a new level of communication challenges. This level requires sensitivity and people management skills.
There are many forms of communication but nowhere is communication in a community association, more important than in the board meeting minutes. This written form of communication serves as a record of activity and decisions. It should not be narrative of who said what, but it should concisely and accurately summarize the board’s actions and decisions.
To be a good communicator, adhere to the following tips:
- Always speak or write with respect.
- Put yourself in the owner’s shoes as much as possible; try to understand how he feels and how you would feel in the same situation.
- Never keep your owners in the dark. Provide them with enough information about what is happening on their property. This will reduce questions and phone calls.
- As a board member, you are one of the problem solvers, not the problem maker.
- Praise your community members. This goes a long way and earns respect because you have acknowledged them as participants and not just monthly dues contributors.
- All owners want to be listened to and acknowledged, and they will walk away satisfied.
- It is crucial to keep the absentee owner updated on what is happening in the community.
- Be a good listener. We often think of what we need to do along with 10 other things in any given minute, but to be effective we must push all those other thoughts away and concentrate on the person communicating with us. Preoccupation is a barrier to communication.
- Be sure to respond appropriately in a non-combative way.
- Learn to understand the mind set of a negative individual.
Effective communication is all about conveying your messages to other people clearly and unambiguously. It is also about receiving information that others are sending to you with as little distortion as possible. No one said it would be easy trying to maintain harmonious relations with so many different personalities, different backgrounds and different cultures. It is up to the board to unify their community through effective, continual communication.
Joanne L. Willoughby CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM® – Miramar, FLShare