Open Lines How Boards and Managers Communicate With Residents

No one likes to feel left out or ignored. Sometimes that is how community association residents may feel if they believe their board or managers are not responding to their requests for information or sharing enough up front. What they may not realize, however, is that there can be important reasons for discretion on the part of board members and managers. Keeping the lines of communication open and clear can help eliminate those misunderstandings and help establish a healthy level of trust between everyone involved. 

When Questions Come

Significant lengths of time between a resident making an inquiry and a board or manager responding to that initial inquiry can cause friction before the main matter of the inquiry is ever even addressed. The resident may feel that his request has not been received, or worse yet, has been ignored as insignificant. Before long, that individual can start sharing his frustrations with neighbors and friends, leading to a less-than-sterling reputation for board and manager, and an overall morale problem that can be corrosive for the whole community. 

Sometimes the delay is simply a reflection of the type of question involved. For example, if the question is technical in nature or requires board discussion, it's absolutely appropriate for the board to consult an expert, or convene a meeting (in person, online, or by phone) before rendering an official response.  

That said however, no matter how much time may be needed to properly answer a question or respond to a grievance, it is important to issue some sort of response as soon as possible, just so the resident knows they've been heard, and that the board is working on it. “We like to get back to everyone immediately,” says one management pro. “We don’t want them to think that they’re being ignored.”

Bram Fierstein, president and co-founder of Gramatan Management, Inc. in New Rochelle, New York agrees. “Questions should be responded to as quickly as possible. It is best to acknowledge a question via email or telephone to inform the resident that the matter is being considered and you will get back to them with an answer.”

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