Volume 22, Issue Number 2, Winter 2016
Board of Directors and Meetings

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I Recently Used a Tool to Effectively and Concisely Communicate With Owners Which I Would Like to Share

By Selena Livingstone | Other articles by Selena Livingstone

I am a Board Director at a 14 story high rise and one thing I've learned for sure is the importance of knowing when and how to share information. If you are a Director of a Condominium Corporation you have probably experienced at some point, problems and complaints from owners which may be due to a lack of consistent, effective and respectful communication.

Another Board member and I recently used a tool to effectively and concisely communicate with owners which I would like to share with other Directors as we feel this will help you win with your owners.

I am sharing this as a positive example of creative communication, a wonderful experience and helpful tool in building trust between Owners and Directors. Owners appreciate hearing good things instead of always hearing from the Board when it's a negative issue. I have been a Director for going on 9 years here at our condo and I certainly have found that good communication, proper ethics and a willingness to learn are really the keys to running a successful corporation. We have always had a culture of encouraging new and all Directors to take ongoing educational courses offered through the Canadian Condo Institute. It was at a 2 day weekend course recently which one of my fellow Directors and myself attended, where we formulated our idea for a way to communicate to the Owners at our upcoming AGM.

During the course there was a brief discussion on whether a Board should allow their Owners to view the mechanical room equipment and other "back of house" areas. It was deemed however that due to safety and insurance liability concerns it was not recommended. That was when we developed the idea of showing our Owners ALL of OUR hidden components and behind the scenes workings of our building which they don't have the privilege of viewing. We wanted to do something for our Owners, include them in something that normally only the Property Manager, Superintendent and Directors have access to, so they could see for themselves.

We came up with the idea of a 15 minute slide show tour of our building and presenting it at our Annual General Meeting. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say and in our experience worth the effect in improving trust, transparency and giving all Owners pride of ownership. Our Board always includes in our annual report how well maintained our boiler room is by our Super but this time we actually showed them in a picture, several actually. It builds trust in the Board and Management knowing their building is well looked after and they get the bigger picture of their home and what the Board is actually responsible in overseeing. They get a greater sense also of the responsibilities of the Management Company and the Superintendent, along with what is being maintained and what it takes to keep their asset in working order. By going on the tour with the Super and the Property Manger the Board also shows their interest in learning and communicating to Owners.

The Superintendent and Property Manager took my fellow Director on an extensive tour of the building and she snapped many pictures and asked A LOT of questions. After editing and selecting which pictures to use, she put together a PowerPoint presentation with wording on each slide describing the pieces of equipment and how they worked and in some cases worked together. She plugged the presentation into our party room TV and delivered it with great information and humour and the Owners attending the AGM loved it! She explained the type of roof we have, pointed out the boilers, the old and the new, the plumbing stacks, the elevator room and the cleanliness of all, the tech/telephone room, the chiller on the roof and explained how the carbon monoxide detectors work in the garage so you won't die – unless you want too!

(Got a big chuckle) plus the current work being done on the spa hot tub.

Some of the comments from our owners after the meeting were: "That was the best AGM ever" – "I was so impressed to see the pictures. I guess I sort of thought the building ran itself" etc. Very positive feedback was received from the owners. In fact owners left with smiles and milled about chatting for some time. This is an example of how it helped create a sense of shared community and ownership.

Overall, our recent AGM was a big success in part because of this thoughtful presentation, something so outside the normal type of Directors report the Owners were used to, and so it is our wish to share it, so other Directors can enjoy the reward we felt; Happy Owners! Take pictures, get to know your building, give a little presentation and deliver it with humour and most importantly have fun. We hope this idea will help foster good relations for you and your corporation and it is something that helps you win with YOUR Owners!

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Winter 2016
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