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A House Divided Cannot Stand
The Relationship Between Property Management and the Board of Directors
By Bill Colucci | Other articles by Bill Colucci
Too often, there is an adversarial approach to the Board -Management relationship. This is neither proper nor beneficial.
A house divided cannot stand.
Both the Board of Directors and the Property Management have specific, non-conflicting roles and duties. It is only when ego and self-importance get involved that the relationship degrades. A good Board, whether Corporate or Condominium, knows when to go home and when to attend Board functions. A good Manager respects the line of authority which the good Board does not flaunt or cross.
Similar to a football team, the Corporation needs a quarterback – that is the role of the Property Manager, Similar to a hockey team, the Corporation needs a provider of safety (and governance) – the Property Manager. The Board is more like the coaches and sports managers who practise good governance, respecting the skills of their players and setting up the game plan, not every step on how it is carried out on the field or ice. There should never be subterfuge or private meetings without inviting all the stakeholders, including the professional minute taker and the Property Manager. Any less is insufficient since it is arguable that the Property Manager is one of the experts referred to in the Condominium Act, 1998, at section 37 (3) (a) (b) and his or her professional advice and counsel should be recognized by the Board of Directors.
Condos are more similar to a Parliamentary system, not a Presidential system, there is no Supreme Leader. Neither any Board member nor the Property Manager should consider himself or herself any more important than any owner in the property (or any other person) and neither the Property Manager nor any Board member should interfere with the Professionals (Engineers, lawyers, Licensed Condominium Managers, etc.). It is not often acknowledged and is often ignored that if a Board engages a professional, they are required to consider or even follow the advice of that professional. If you don't respect the man (or woman), respect the office.
The law clearly requires a Licensed Manager to manage a condo, Directors' training is not sufficient. The Board President and the Property Manager should be close collaborators and allies respecting each other's experience and education. The Board President is the liaison between the Board and the Manager; this is a gobetween role, a communicator, not a commanding role.
No person on the Board or in Management should ever harbour a personal agenda as all should be committed to the good and betterment of the Corporation. Every communication and comment should be positive, spoken in good faith and driven by good-will. Criticism should be constructive and focused on the betterment of the Corporation or education of the team. Feelings of superiority and put downs have no place in any relationship, much less a professional one. It is often overlooked by Boards that this is a professional relationship as managing a condominium is similar to running a business. To the Board members, it may be their home and that allows personal feelings to get in the way. The relationship between the Board and management should be one of trust and respect without anyone looking for a "gotcha" moment against the Property Manager. No property manager should ever feel concern to approach his or her Board of Directors with a Corporation issue and then wait for the bombs to explode against him or her and the fault accusations to begin. That is neither a healthy work environment or professional conduct and is completely unnecessary. A team works together to look for solutions, not someone to blame. As Hellen Keller once said "Alone can do little, together we can do so much".
Management (the administrative authority) and the Board (the governing authority) should remain respectful of each other's important role. The two leaders do not have to like each other to work together. Churchill and Stalin hated each other, but they accomplished great things together.
As per the General Regulations of The Condominium Management Services Act, 2015, at Part 1, 2. Iii.
No person or entity may provide the following services without a licence:
iii. "Supervising employees or contractors hired or engaged by the corporation"
That means that only licensed Managers can supervise staff or contractors. In this context the Board members are administrators and the Property Manager is that, a "manager".
There is absolutely no judgement or attitude on the part of this author as he supports and recommends the completion of the licensing requirements for anyone interested. Many great Condominium Managers started out as Board Members. At this time, I wear the hat of a Licensed Condominium Manager and Vice-President of a Board of Directors so I understand the roles and responsibilities better than most.
Robert's Rules of Order, which is used for all major meeting agendas (Canadian Parliament, both US Houses, etc.) states, "Whatever the structure of the organization, the president has authority to do only the things that are assigned to that office by the bylaws (see The Condominium Act 1998 & CAO). Often those elected to the office of president misunderstand their role in the organization and believe that the members have given them free reign to run the organisation any way they please, thus setting up a dictatorship."