The relationship between boards and management is, by its very nature, a deep and complex one. The two sides rely upon one another to ensure the smooth oversight of their co-op and condo communities. Both are dedicated to doing everything possible to create a stable and welcoming environment for residents while at the same time, handling the day-to-day and big picture aspects of management, from dealing with vendors to ensuring a solid financial bottom line. With so much at stake, it is vital for everyone involved to be functioning at an optimal level. For boards and for the managers who work with them, building that well-oiled management machine is key to that success. So what can be done to ensure that everyone involved is performing at their optimal level and what role does a healthy dose of good communication play in that success? That’s where evaluations come into play.
There are two types of performance evaluations relevant to management success: the evaluation that individual managers undergo with their respective firms and the evaluations that take place between co-op and condo boards and their management firms.
For most boards and management firms, the process of evaluation starts before the contract is even signed when the two groups sit down together to discuss expectations and responsibilities. “Expectations and performance requirements are usually discussed at the onset of any contract,” says Dawn Carpenter, president of Dawning Real Estate Inc., based in Staten Island, and past president of the Greater New York Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). “Then those expectations will be reviewed each year or every two years, based on the contract. All expectations should be written. If there are problems, though, the board will bring them to the manager’s attention immediately.”
Establishing that early level of understanding can go a long way toward building a healthy long-term professional relationship. “The more information the manager has about a building in the beginning of the relationship, the better,” says Mara Goodgold, a manager and director of operations at Midboro Management, Inc., based in Manhattan.
In addition to the previously decided upon expectations and requirements, there are other aspects of a manager’s performance that boards may look at to determine their satisfaction. These may include “responsiveness, follow-through, reliability, general knowledge, specialized knowledge, leadership, management skills, writing skills, communication skills, diplomacy and clarity,” says Goodgold.