Your Condominium Manager: Control-Freak or Nurturer?

Is your Board-Manager relationship dysfunctional? If you’re butting heads constantly or just can’t seem to get things done, you’ll need to examine the individual management styles of each and find some common ground.

This subject involves the management style of both the Board of Directors and the Manager and for each, there are two distinct styles. A newly-elected Board at the same property can be very different in its preferred style, from the previous Board, so this is a dynamic condition. The Board may be very involved, very hands-on and prefer to direct their Condominium Manager with specific and detailed instructions; or the Board may prefer that the Manager be very proactive and look after things with as little of their involvement as possible. With either management style, you as a Board should understand that no matter your preference, decision-making is still the Board’s responsibility – not the Manager’s. Allow me to reiterate this: decisions are not the Manager’s responsibility – even if you would prefer it that way.

For the Involved Board, your Manager will take direction and carry out the specific tasks you (reasonably) request of them (an example of this involves the Vice-Chair who regularly walks the property and sends a list of maintenance items and by-law infractions to the Manager to engage the contractors and send letters to the offending residents). For the Less-Involved Board, your Manager should advise you of maintenance items and by-law infractions and while they may act within the authority allowed to them by the Management Contract, they must still report to the Board and should have such actions ratified by the Board.

Whichever your style, be sure that both your Board and your Manager have a clear understanding of your preferences and of the specific procedures and expectations involved by both parties. The real caution in all this, is the style of the Manager. I have worked with many Managers over the years who, while yes, may have the knowledge and experience to tell you what the “right” decision is or how to handle things or who may even move forward and do them on your behalf. Many, in the interests of expediency or ego or both, forget that the Board must make the final decision. This should not be confused with the Manager’s job to provide solid information (or to complete certain tasks for which they have the authority or are responsible to perform according to your agreement) – this is intended in respect of actual decision-making.

Your Manager should provide guidance, professional advice, experience-based reasoning and all the research that the Board needs to make an informed decision, but he or she should never lead, point or otherwise influence the Board’s choices. We’re speaking here, of decisions such as: which of the three quotes to choose; whether or not to evict a tenant; or if a contractor’s job has been completed satisfactorily. Although some Boards prefer to have their Manager tell them which is the best choice, your Manager is a Facilitator, not a Dictator and should be proficient in assisting you to make the best choice – never to tell you what the choice should be. Because the final responsibility rests with the Board, your duty is to draw a line and be vigilant that this line is not crossed.

The Board carries some large responsibilities – if the Manager you’re paying is not fitting in with your style – find someone who will.

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