We all remember the days in grade school when we gathered in a circle to play the game telephone. Starting with a simple phrase, the first person will whisper their given phrase in the ear of the person sitting next to them. As each person whispers their given phrase to their neighbor, you sit with suspense in hopes that the last person will be able to say the starting phrase accurately. That leads us to the question — what does the game telephone teach us? For starters, the game illustrates how quickly a message can be altered even when passed through multiple people. It makes us consider that what we say can sometimes have an altered perspective on the person that they are talking to. Most importantly, paying attention to detail and thoroughness is a crucial part of communication.
When it comes to communication between management companies and HOAs, communication is a large contribution to its success. As a way to better help your organization, we would like to address 5 important tips on improving communication.
5 Tips to Improve Communication
1. Clear transparency:
An essential part of communication is providing transparency. When transparency is present, people are more prone to be clear, honest, and open to building trust with other members of the group. Members are also more likely to share information more freely in an effort to benefit the group vs. the individual. This is especially true when it comes to setting boundaries and expectations.
For example, the following is an example of a transparent response that an HOA management company might give someone in the situation that they are unclear about a specific situation.
HOA board member:
“I feel out of the loop on the issues that were addressed during our HOA board meeting. I wasn’t aware that certain projects were approved to block entryways in our neighborhood.”
HOA management company:
“Thank you for reaching out to us about your concern. To better help you, let’s discuss in more detail the approved projects that were addressed during the meeting. It’s important to us that our community understands the process of each project and its overall goal. We are also happy to address any additional questions or concerns that you may have.”
2. Directive of communication and hierarchy:
In times when executive decisions are made within an HOA management company, board members may not always agree. These situations can sometimes lead to an assumption that a particular decision was made due to one individual’s opinion vs. a group. By providing an HOA directive of communication and hierarchy, members are able to have a clear outline of how decisions are made, voted on, and who to address when additional information is needed.
How to Create a Directive of Communication:
Start by providing a list of all HOA members’ contact information, along with their current role. Outline each person’s responsibilities, their primary contact information, and their availability.
- Example 1:
Seth Myers – Head of HOA Financial Budget Committee
HOA Phone: 999-999-9999 ext. 4
Availability: Monday – Thursday from 9 am-3 pm by appointment only.
Responsibilities: Oversees all HOA financial budgeting and organizing financial meetings. * If an appointment is needed, please contact our assistant Tina Holms to schedule.
Tina Holms – Financial Budgets Committee Assistant
HOA Phone: 999-999-9990 ext. 3
Availability: Monday – Wednesday 9 am-3 pm
- Assists HOA financial budgeting and planning when needed.
- Relays all questions and concerns to head committee members.
- Schedules all related meetings between HOA members and the executive financial team.
How to Create a Directive of Hierarchy:
When creating a directive of hierarchy, be sure to review your HOA governing documents for guidelines on knowing what particular committee member or executive should oversee certain topics. Here is where directives on voting or following parliamentary procedure can be addressed as well. As another alternative option, consider creating a visual chart so that everyone can see how all roles communicate among one another.
- Example 2:
- Executive Committee
- Financials Committee:
- Seth Myers – Head of HOA Financial Budget Committee
- Robert Haynes – Head of HOA Financial Budget Crisis Committee
- Tina Holms – Financial Budgets Committee Assistant
- Financial Advisory Committee: addresses all financial requests and concerns of the HOA board and community
- Tonya Wallice
- Mark Espinosa
3. Set clear expectations between HOA and new hires:
When someone new joins a management company, it is essential to provide each new employee with a clear set of expectations. Most importantly, be sure to give each new hire a proper amount of time to meet with each HOA board member or manager. Use this opportunity to create a list of expectations and additional topics related to their job description. Another vital part of setting clear expectations is providing a thorough training program — here is where new hires can keep track of accomplishments and ways to improve as they adjust to their new role.
- Be sure to be specific and detailed on any related issues that may come up during their time at work.
- Allow new hires to address new ideas or suggestions on ways to improve their role in the near future.
- Provide each new hire with a 90-day review that addresses their performance and ways to better improve their role.
- Allow new hires to provide honest feedback about their current role.
4. Technology and communication:
As we convert into a new way of living due to Covid-19, communication has become an essential part of how we are able to connect to other people. One large solution comes with providing the proper tools necessary to communicate. This includes alternative non-contact options such as the following:
- Zoom/GoogleMeet: Consider applications such as Zoom, which works as a virtual way for people to stay connected. This option allows members to host virtual meetings and events from the comfort of their own homes, keeping them informed while remaining safe. Zoom meetings are also a great way to host Q&A sessions. This can include a Q&A about opportunities to become more involved or specific issues related to their management company.
- Updates to websites: If your management company or HOA utilizes a website, be sure to properly update your website as new agendas and information is obtained. Consider offering a virtual chat option so that employees or community members can have better guidance on addressing questions that may not be available on the website.
- Social Media: Utilizing social media groups is a great way to stay connected to your community. It also portrays a more open approach to being in the know.
- Offline solutions: Remember that not all residents may be as up-to-date with new ways of utilizing technology. As a solution, be sure to plan alternative forms of communication such as printed materials for those that may need them.
- HOA Apps: Many management companies utilize HOA apps such as TownSq to easily communicate with all their communities from one platform. TownSq Business allows managers to handle their entire book of business with Workspace, either in the office or on the go.
Providing consistency is key to improving communication between management companies and HOAs. The more an HOA sees that a process is consistent, the more an HOA is likely to respond positively. Some examples of consistency include:
- Newsletters: Part of consistency is being able to communicate important information on a repetitive basis. Providing consistent newsletters is a great way for both the HOA management and HOA committees to stay informed. A large part of this responsibility will be to keep information up-to-date and consistently provide a new newsletter to all members on a monthly or bi-weekly basis.
- Follow-ups: If in the situation that a project or task is not moving along as expected, providing a consistent follow up can help encourage employees to work faster and more efficiently at completing the project.
- Prioritize meetings with a consistent schedule: In any HOA, there will most likely be a set number of sessions and agendas that must take place to run the organization properly. Scheduling meetings with a consistent agenda will be a vital part of providing all members with a clear understanding of what is expected of them and anyone else involved.