The relationship between a board of directors and a community manager is a business relationship. In any good relationship, whether personal or business, there is a reasonable expectation of treatment of all parties involved. Since the manager has been hired by the association’s board of directors, there is an expectation that the manager will show respect to the board members as they are, in essence, the manager’s bosses. Unfortunately, if respect is not reciprocated toward the manager from the board, the business relationship can become weakened.
In a community management scenario, the board members could also be considered the manager’s customers as well as the manager’s bosses. The dual role that the board members hold can cause a bit of a challenge for a manager if the manager feels that the board members are wrong, that they are not acting in a professional manner, or that they are not following the governing documents or the established state guidelines. If the board members are acting out of line, or in other words acting disrespectful, it is certainly difficult to uphold the “customer is always right” attitude.
So what happens, ultimately, when the bosses/customers are not upholding their end of the business relationship bargain and are doing things that ultimately amount to disrespect of the manager and his/her role as the board’s employee? Well, because the manager is a human being, it is likely that the manager will become unhappy. A self-centered board member may not care that the manager is unhappy because, as we all have been taught, the customer is always right. An observant board member will certainly care that the manager is unhappy because, as we all have been taught, you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.
No matter how competent the manager is, if he or she is unhappy with the treatment from the board members or the association members, the association is almost certainly going to suffer in some way.
In my years as a community manager, I have been simultaneously happy and unhappy in my career. The great business relationships with boards who show respect for me and for their position help me to feel happiness as a manager, happy that I am capable of doing a fine job, and happy that I am able to work with a great bunch of people to benefit the community. At the same time, I have managed communities where the board members are disrespectful to me or their position as board members. The dissatisfaction that I felt when working with board members like this inspired me to spend less time on that community and sometimes brought out a cold, indifferent side of me as a coping mechanism. On one hand, I wanted to be able to tell the board members where they were going wrong, but on the other hand, the fact that they were comfortable being rude or had no problem disregarding their proper role meant that they probably wouldn’t care to hear my opinion. In short, I am inspired to be a better manager for the communities where the board members treat me with respect and perform their duties properly as board members.
If a board of directors wants to bring out the best in the community manager, they should be sure to remember that the manager may work for them but is still human and has feelings. In addition to treating the manager with kindness and respect, the board members should always know what is expected of them as the elected decision makers and then fulfill those expectations so that the manager is not put into an awkward position due to the board’s failure to perform. Overall, if the manager is happy with how he or she is being treated, there is a much higher likelihood that he or she will be happy to perform above and beyond what is expected.