Association managers know that whether they're running a small, contained walk-up building, a multi-unit high rise, or a sprawling condo development in the suburbs, materials, capital and personnel all fall under their administrative jurisdiction.
Many of the jobs handled by association managers can be described in well-defined terms—send out monthly bills, attend meetings, file paperwork—but regardless of the size of the project, human resources are typically considered the most important and involved piece in any management puzzle. Managing human resources is both an art and a science, and requires a very specific skill set, particularly since peoples' homes and personal assets are involved.
Dan Wurtzel, president of FirstService Residential in New York City, a management firm with offices across the country, staff management requires that a manager come to the task with a few fundamental tools.
“Whether a new property or an existing one, the tools are the same, a detailed job description, schedules, and training must be in place,” Wurtzel explains. “Make sure the job descriptions and the schedules are in sync and customized for the building. Every building is different, with different amenities and different nuances. Templates don’t always work.”
In addition, Wurtzel believes that all staff members, regardless of their job descriptions, need either to have customer-service skills when hired, or be taught them on the job. “Customer service is part of every job,” he says, and uses as example a floor polisher who, even though his job is limited to just polishing the floor, doesn’t keep mindlessly polishing when he is approached by residents or other staff members. “Ideally, he stops the machine and gives full attention to the person approaching him,” says Wurtzel.