Getting Back on Track The Art of Managing a Board of Directors

Managing a cooperative or condominium apartment building in New York would be a piece of cake… if weren’t for all those people.

“The bricks and mortar is easy,” says Margie Russell, managing director of the New York Association of Realty Managers (NYARM). “The managing of conflicting relationships is the most difficult part.” And when those conflicting relationships are among the people who are on the board of directors, a.k.a. your boss, managing them is particularly tricky.

An experienced managing agent taking command of an established co-op or condo building can usually sense that a board is dysfunctional the first time they attend a board meeting. “It’s instinctual,” says Russell. “Every hair on the back of your neck will stand up.”

A board clearly has problems, observes real estate attorney Phyllis Weisberg of Manhattan-based Kurzman Karelsen & Frank LLP, “when they can’t get anything done, they scream and holler, or it’s clear that there are factions on the board and they can’t make decisions.”

Really, it doesn’t take much to derail a board meeting. “I’ve seen boards where one or two people demand that all you talk about is their pet issue,” says Weisberg. “They will talk over anybody else and force you to revisit issues that have already been solved. It can make the business of the board grind to a halt.”

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