by Beth Grimm –  hoagoverance

Here is the email I am responding to:

“The manager makes all the decisions in our HOA, the board never questions anything. In fact, when any board member asks about something he or she Is quickly put down and or ignored completely. We can’t stand the manager. How can we get rid of the management?”

The Board hires and fires the manager. The owner members do neither, unless the documents governing the association say  something different. The Board does have an obligation to participate, and “administrate”.  It sounds to me like this person might be better off to look at changing or motivating the board before getting rid of the manager, but I could be wrong. Unless you trust the board to step up and stand up, any management will likely be either controlling … Or confused. … Or useless.

And, before doing anything, dust off the contract and see what is says! Owners have a right to review management contracts that are not confidential. And if they are forthcoming from the HOA, or the HOA argues they are confidential, seek legal counsel. Management is not the party to ask. And the contract has meaning. It should outline what the parties are responsible for with regard to management vs administration.

As to how much a manger does, or how much control he or she has, different professionals tout different forms of management. Some argue there is only one right management style where the board is limited to policy setting and management carries it out and handles all day to day activities and makes decisions based on the policies. These believers might be critical of any “hands on” board activity with regard to day to day decisions or interaction with owners – considering it more as interference and discourage or condemn it.

So it could look like management is running the show and shutting the board down when management is actually trying to carry out one form of respected professional management style. And in large HOAs this might be just what is needed. It tends to work better in larger associations because they can’t really be productive and efficient if everyone tries to run the show and no one delegates any of the day to day stuff to those trained specifically to do it. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians used to be the catch phrase but it’s probably politically incorrect to say that today. So I will say instead too many shepherds and not enough sheep can be a problem too (or does that offend the sheep)?

But I digress. If management is overly offensive or defensive in its approach, rather than professional, there may well be managers better equipped to manage. In all HOAs, boards have a responsibility, whether to just set policy and stick to the big decisions, or whether as in many small HOAs, to actually manage the HOA. In any event, the board chooses the manager. Occasionally I see documents that allow the owners to vote on managers, but I don’t write them that way or recommend that. The elected board should choose management and the directors should choose wisely, and take action when management is not satisfactory, either by working to improve the situation or change providers.

Of course if cost is a factor due to a shortage of funds, then owners would end up having a say in whether management is hired. But not WHOM is hired (or is it WHO is hired?) Some English professor is going to ding me.

So here we are back to looking at the Board to see what options are available there – the owners may have to look at getting involved, like running for the board, if there is a belief that management is a problem, because it starts with the Board’s choices. An owner may have to look at rallying the members to push for change in management and if approached the right way, that could be effective.

And remember, you can’t fix people. You can only fix problems, often through actions and change. It is realistic to look for an effective way to either work with the problem people … Or oust them. Don’t waste energy by pointing fingers. Get busy – get involved. Be the change you want to see.


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