I've practiced the art of managing communities since 1980, and during that time I've learned that the best formal education a community manager can posses is a degree in psychology! All of the technical skill sets can be taught (accounting, risk management, legal, etc). However, learning and (hopefully) mastering the skill of leading those around us ... We either have it or we don't! It's a powerful skill, not to be underrated.
In the world of today's community management, being a consensus builder has never been more useful. From the inception of a project, to the day-to-day battles of operating a community following transition, using consensus-building techniques to get the 'benefit receivers' involved in ownership of resolutions is key to success.
I've often found that knowing the client before they know themselves puts a manager in the driver's seat to guide and advise them. If a client has to spend time explaining who they are to management, we then have no time to learn about what their expectations are and what we can do to meet them. Understanding the client's expectations is a necessary base line for accomplishment.
Regardless of the arrangement in place, the contract signed, or the governing documents that control the community ... I'd go so far as to say that if a professional manager has an understanding of and can meet the client's expectations, it will go a long way in determining how long we're there to serve.
Once we know our client's expectations we must begin the process of balancing the community's obligations and needs to ensure that we stay within the law and become an efficient tool to assist them over time. Our steady hand will help them in dealing with the ebbs and flows of politics, finances and value sustainability.
Knowing when to say, "Sure we can do that, but here is what it will cost you," is the basis by which professional management is measured, thanks to an undefined and ill-supported service industry. The community management industry is often characterized by the payment of a fee for unlimited service. This is an unsustainable business model. A professional manager knows how to communicate limits to their clients.
Understanding the power of peer pressure is also essential, as most communities want to have congenial co-existence, along with the protected value of people living in their preferred lifestyle. Instead of rule-making and heavy-handed enforcement, it is the power of neighbors and people living on par with one another that truly creates a healthy lifestyle.
Without education, experience and guidance, today's managers are often lost in understanding the psychological approach to managing communities. Associa NNJ, Inc., is committed to providing our employees with the very best training and development programs available. Come and see for yourself how it is possible to love your HOA with Associa NNJ. See next week's article for Trend #4.
Written by Rob Felix, president and CEO of N.N. Jaeschke Inc.