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Teachable Moments: Maintaining Good Relations with Building Residents

New York City

Oct. 3, 2013


Mark Levine
Executive Vice President, Excel Bradshaw Management Group 

Different boards have different relationships with their shareholders. Some rely on management to be the point of contact while others get involved in every issue, no matter the size. We had one board that seemed to be alienating its constituents by confronting residents over rules they were breaking and threatening them with fines. This board-wide interaction was causing distress for everyone, and slowly a group of shareholders was forming to try to combat them. We were able to work with the board to set a policy that the board should allow management to deal directly with shareholders and their problems and issue letters or fines as needed. By taking the board out of the day-to-day interaction with the shareholders, we were able to diffuse the hostility and allow the board to focus on the bigger picture.


Mitchell Barry
CEO, Century Operating Corporation 

Century recently started managing a co-op where the board had a mix of tenured board members and newly elected ones. Clashing ideas about reform and proper procedures were routine at monthly meetings. We introduced procedures and practices that had not been in place, such as collecting arrears, sending reminder notices of building house rules and procedures and ensuring shareholder issues come to management’s attention first. We were confident that what we knew as good practice would work for this building. Slowly, the board began seeing a change at the property because of these procedures. The lively discussions were subdued and the board is now working much more cohesively. While spirited board discussions are common, it does not mean we must deviate from the fundamentals of good management. Proven processes work, and this board has begun to recognize them.


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