the message means additional time and possible delays. If Mrs. Winston did not receive or understand that her balcony needed to be cleared of plants for the railings to be painted, the project will be delayed, and inconvenience and stress has been placed upon Mrs. Winston, the property manager, the staff, the contractor, and other residents who

Communicating effectively with boards of directors presents perhaps the biggest challenge.

Communicating effectively with boards of directors presents perhaps the biggest challenge. Boards of directors are as different as the range of communities that we manage, and turnover of even one board position (which can happen every couple of years at least) can completely change the dynamic of the board. Each member has their own goals and often agendas, which may or may not meld with those of their fellow board members or management. To address this wide and changing assortment of personalities, your communication style must be very fluid. Your style may have to be adjusted from topic to topic. Some communication must be direct and clear, while other topics may require coaching and education to the members.

Another important aspect to communication is knowing when you need to bring in outside experts such as mechanical vendors or attorneys to educate staff and boards. They can often explain technical or complicated matters more thoroughly and succinctly than management might have with their more generalized knowledge. The message is also often received with more authority from a third party. Management’s role is not to have expert knowledge on all topics and controlling this expectation from our clients is a significant aspect of our role in community management.

expected everyone involved to adhere to the schedule. Communication sometimes requires follow-up; such as, checking her balcony the day before the project starts to verify her complete understanding of, and compliance with, the message.

If the association has on-site staff, this creates another communication challenge. To further complicate this, different staff types (door, maintenance, garage), have different communication needs as well. Here, as well, it is recommended to err on the side of over-communication. For instance, even though the maintenance staff isn’t directly affected by a repair to the front door and therefore a change in pedestrian traffic flow, it helps for them to be aware of this. When everyone is informed, it fosters unity among the team members. By having a clear picture of what is going to challenge the entire team, it makes the team member feel important and creates cohesiveness. If the weather forecast calls for a severe thunderstorm, the door staff should be aware that cabs might be scarce and that folks might need additional help hailing cabs as well as entering and exiting while juggling personal belongings and umbrellas. The maintenance staff will need to know that more frequent mopping will be necessary to keep the lobby floor clean and dry, and the garage staff will have to deal with puddles in the garage.


It is important in all cases to make sure the lines of communication are running in both directions – in and out. This means listening (or reading) the other party’s thoughts and ideas besides just transmitting your own. Especially if you are dealing with an upset or angry person, just letting people know that they have been heard can alleviate the stress of many situations. Empathy has amazing power. Remember to pause, make eye contact, or re-read a message to ensure that this two-way pathway is clear. Reflective listening means repeating the person’s words or ideas: “you sound very upset”, “I hear you saying…” or “That is unfortunate” are words that can communicate that you have been listening and paying attention to the other person’s ideas and emotions.

Forethought and mindful planning of communication is possible if the appropriate time has been dedicated to it. Stop, review and consider how the message is to be received from all involved parties. This will prevent most monkey-wrenches from getting caught in the gears of your association’s mechanics.

• Winter 2018 • A Publication of CAI-Illinois Chapter

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