President, Trion Real Estate Management
Create a Team Environment
Setting the Scene
We were hired as managers at a building, a 140-unit garden-style complex, where there was tension between the board and the superintendent/staff. One problem was there was no structure to the employees’ day-to-day schedule. Guidelines were offered by the union, but the building manager and board didn’t set the day-to-day routines. As a result, the board didn’t know what the super or staff were doing – while the super and staff were getting instructions from a number of different board members, as well as the manager.
When we were presented with this situation, we discussed it with the board. The members’ underlying issues were communication and protocol. There were also a lot of issues going back and forth between the staff and the board. It was mainly because the board members were taking it on themselves to speak to the superintendent and staff directly. When we talked with the superintendent, his issue was communication or, rather, the lack of it.
Following the Action
We suggested a few changes. The first was to give the board and the super a maintenance handbook. This not only outlines the day-to-day and monthly schedules for the super, it also offers a preventive-maintenance schedule, which tells exactly what is expected. By having a daily schedule, the board could see, on an hourly basis, that the super was working. The problem was that this hadn’t been communicated to the board by the previous management company.
Doing It Right
The lesson that was learned from this situation is that just because you don’t see a staff member performing a specific task doesn’t mean it isn’t being done. The most important thing is that the property has clear communication between the staff and management, and that the communication is then relayed to the board. What that’s done in this property is create more of a team environment, where everybody understands everyone else’s responsibility.