Management of any property requires a varying degree of resources and skills. Materials, capital, and personnel are required for everything from ordering supplies to the complete overseeing of a community association. Above all resources, human resources, are typically considered the most important asset of any business or company, and managing those living resources is an art, a science, and a very necessary skill set.
“Human resources is a department within a corporation that handles employees, concerns, insurance and benefits,” says Martin H. Laderman, CPM candidate and president of the New Jersey-based MEM Property Management. “The term 'human resources' is not synonymous with association management —it’s synonymous with corporations or a business that has 30 or 40 employees. The problem with management companies who have human resource departments is that the managers, the president, the vice president are not in touch with their employees, because that’s delegated to human resources—so they are separating themselves from the employee’s complaints or questions.”
“In association management , there’s an internal way of looking at human resources and an external way,” says Joseph Balzamo, president of Alliance Property Management in Morristown, New Jersey. “For a small firm, a human resources director wears many hats,” agrees Brian Weaver, vice president of Wilkin Management Group in Mahwah, New Jersey. “For a larger firm, it’s a full-time job. A lot depends on the quality of the director. Human resources will take care of things like payroll or internal conflicts. It depends on the size and culture of the company.”
Value Your People
Well-trained, motivated employees enhance the appeal and ambiance of a property, adding to both the real and perceived value. Who does the hiring, the training, and the evaluations may vary between properties, but generally speaking, the board of directors and the association management company will work together to achieve the best results. When an effective system is in place and working well, the board will communicate their expectations for staff performance to the association manager, and the manager will then develop and enforce the policies, and be held accountable to the board. The manager will generally act in an advisory capacity, before, during, and after new staff is brought on board, while the actual hiring of new employees is usually a board function.
“An association’s board should have a minimal role in managing staff. Sometimes boards get involved in managing the employees or vendors by default because the property managers aren’t doing it,” says Laderman. “But that’s what they pay us to do. They are volunteers getting paid zero, and that is not their job. If we are not doing it, then they’ll step in and get involved.”