Sometimes managers are not allowed to succeed in their roles
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Kelly G. Richardson
16 September 2017
Many associations struggle with a poor manager relationship, resulting
in a frustrated board or a terminated manager. However, such struggles
can sometimes arise from the board’s actions and likewise can be
resolved by a change in board practices.
Truly, some managers are simply not cut out for the job. The need for
excellent homeowners association managers increases along with the
growing number of community associations. However, some are poorly
qualified, overloaded with too many associations, disorganized, poor at
customer relations, or even unethical and dishonest. No excuses can be
made for such managers, and they should not be accepted.
However, some managers are not allowed to succeed in their roles, as
boards set them up for failure. Before an association gives up on its
manager, ask if any of the following factors are present.
You don’t, so I will
Often, a director who performs managerial tasks will explain that
“somebody has to do it.” This will insulate a poor manager from
responsibility from their performance, and will discourage a good
manager who wants to do their job.
Failure to communicate
Many boards never establish expectations regarding communication flow,
including the designated points of contact, and what type of response
time is reasonable. Set mutually agreed expectations and make sure both
management and board honor that agreement. Remember, not everything
needs to be handled now. Your manager probably receives over a hundred
emails a day from homeowners, so allow them to triage the critical from
The handcuffed manager
If a board does not trust the manager, then the association may need
another manager. However, if the manager is trusted, why should they
not be given a reasonable amount of spending authority as long as they
report monthly to the board? Requiring the board approve in advance
every sprinkler head or window replacement bogs the manager down, and
also involves the board in minutiae.
Who’s the boss?
Managers work for the corporation, which acts through its board, but
some HOA presidents do not understand their role as president of
non-profit is less powerful than the for-profit president. A president
who orders the manager around short-circuits the association governance
and forces the manager to choose between proper governance and good
Managers should be seen and not heard - Many a fine manager’s morale is
damaged by boards that refuse to accept their expertise, treating the
manager as clerks instead of trusted professionals. Association boards
should insist their manager be experienced and knowledgeable, and
should benefit from that experience and knowledge.
If a manager is treated rudely, why is it fair to expect a great
attitude in return? It is not - the Golden Rule applies to managers
Trading manager in for a new model
When a new board begins service, particularly after a contentious
election, it often replaces the manager, wanting their “own.” This is
often simply a knee-jerk and unfair assumption as to the manager, who
must be loyal to the association, not who runs` it at any point in time.
If a manager has been given every opportunity to succeed and still
fails, ask their employer to assign another manager to the account
before assuming the company should be terminated.
Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a Fellow
of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Managing Partner of
Richardson Harman Ober PC, a California law firm known for community