Great management teams don’t just happen; they are built – carefully and deliberately. Creating an effective management team, which is probably one of the most important functions of boards, trustees and HOAs, requires both discipline and being open to new ways of doing things.
Shifting the paradigm
Earlier this year, LinkedIn conducted a study in which they analysed the professional skills that employers searched for to determine the most sought-after job skills in 2019. Their findings showed that creativity was the number one ‘soft skill’ that employers look for in candidates. Before delving deeper into how organisations, specifically homeowners associations (HOAs) and property management companies, can capitalise on creative candidates, it is important to understand that creativity isn’t only about shining artistically – it is about being able to solve problems with innovative thinking. It is also important to note that creativity is not an outward energy – it is an internal habit that can be reinforced every day.
Almost every article you read about professional creativity will focus on the creative tendencies of the candidate, without looking deeper into the creative environment that can be instilled in the organisation, or even the industry at large. The residential community industry, although posing new challenges every day, is relatively rigid compared to other types of management industries. Even though the operational problems we face will probably never change, we can look at the way these problems are solved, and how to ensure that we produce a creative environment in which our management teams can flourish:
- Challenge what doesn’t work any more –being able to scrutinise certain aspects of your HOA’s operations is vital when it comes to creating an environment where your employees can flourish. This could include aspects such as the recruitment process, the on-boarding process, performance appraisals, and even general policies and procedures.
- Ensure that you understand the essence of what you are dealing with
– understanding the nature of the job (general aspects as well as the detailed tasks) allows you to really pinpoint the type of person you require for the job. The correct fit between the individual and the job they are expected to perform brings many benefits, including more engaged staff, more energy in the workplace, and an increased level of performance.
- Continuously update and customise the job – as important as it is to realise that an HOA must operate like any other company in the world, one must also realise that an HOA is like no other type of company in the world. Using a standard job description for a position in HOA management simply won’t cut it, and even though the job titles you use may be the same as those used by large corporates, the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities are vastly different in this environment. Realising this, and acting on it, could be the key to ensuring a competent, productive and satisfied workforce.
- Participate in designing the job –allowing new and current employees to participate in designing their own job may not seem like a viable option, but it could form an extremely important part of the on-boarding process. Setting restrictions for this process, and then tasking your employees to develop certain aspects of their job description, allows them to feel valued, and also means that the job they are performing is relevant to them and specific to their skills.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker
Sourcing from outside the industry
With HOA management being an industry like no other, it is often difficult to believe that your next employee could be sourced from an external industry. But why are we as HOA leaders afraid of hiring someone with no industry experience? Is it because we are too lazy to train people? Is it because we are afraid that they won’t already know the industry jargon?
Being an outsider has huge advantages. An outsider can ask questions that an industry veteran would be too embarrassed to ask, even though they may desperately need the answers. Big ideas don’t come from people who have been following the same path for years. Big ideas come from people who are outsiders, and who may see things differently.
There are four main reasons why placing your organisation’s emphasis on creativity and combining that with sourcing from outside the industry could benefit your organisation:
- People fall into mental ruts, and become calcified into traditional methods.
- Newbies get to look at your problems from a new angle.
- You have to train your newcomer differently, which allows you to ask and answer questions you may not have considered for years – or ever.
- You get diversity of ideas.
One should, however, never discount the value of hiring an experienced individual, but sourcing candidates with industry experience should never be your only, or even your most important, criterion when looking to add to your management team.
How to retain your best employees
Job-hopping has become the norm in industries across the world, none more so than in the residential community industry. The reason why residential communities benefit so much from networking with each other is that they all share many of the same problems and challenges. So why do employees who are looking to jump ship think that they would have a better deal working at another HOA? Is it because of residents who are too demanding, or who complain too much? Can’t be – every community has that. The only logical reason an employee would look to move on to working at another HOA would be because of how they are valued at their organisation.
HOA managers all over the world are starting to look at their positions as a lifestyle rather than a job. When dealing with such a gruelling schedule on a daily basis, HOA employees need something other than a pay cheque to keep themselves motivated and passionate. It is because of this that HOAs need to start realising that they are powerful and influential companies, and they shouldn’t wait to find out what their high-performing individuals need in order to retain them. The best way to do this is to interview them, to learn more about them, what drives their passion, and what fuels their creativity. Having regular conversations with each of your employees around three things – talent engagement, job engagement and career engagement – will ensure that you are able to address the most pressing issues in your organisation, and leverage the most promising opportunities. By doing this, you not only benefit your company, you make the employee’s role more engaging, meaningful and fulfilling.
Keeping up with change
The world is seeing more changes right now than ever before, and so is the community management industry. But how do we identify those changes, and how do we plan to deal with them? There are three main changes that HOA management need to consider when developing their team:
- the increasing reliance on technology
- the changing demographic of homeowners
- the increased involvement of homeowners.
These changes are unavoidable, but they are not necessarily negative, and should be seen as opportunities that can be leveraged. Sourcing tech-savvy, dynamic, flexible and relationship-oriented individuals ensures that these changes are seen as opportunities to become more united with the community. With the increasing disunity among and between residents and management in residential communities, there has never been a better time to start looking for employees who can bridge the gap, and ensure that we are involved in harmonious communities.
Bringing it all together
We are an extremely powerful and influential industry, and our management teams should reflect this. We find ourselves at a very interesting and challenging time for our industry, but also a time filled with opportunities to innovate.