If the board of directors is the Barnum & Bailey of the cooperative or condominium, the manager is the ringmaster. The board finances the show and books the talent, but all eyes are on the manager.
“Everything falls on you,” says Don Skupinsky, managing agent for several buildings in New York for Orsid Realty. “You are the guy, the gatekeeper. You’re running the show. And in order to do that there are lots of factors involved that might keep the building from moving smoothly.”
For “factors,” read “people.” Managers learn early in their careers that keeping buildings running smoothly is mostly about managing people—particularly staff, because especially in financially-trying times, which require maintenance increases and assessments, owners want to feel the service in their building is good and employees do their best with whatever resources the community has.
New Cop on the Beat
Hopeful that they will bring better skills and new ideas to the community, residents are usually happy to see a brand new manager. “The building staff,” however, observes Skupinsky, “is always very nervous because I’m coming in as there as their boss. They never know what is going to happen.”
The new relationship is likely to be challenging for the manager as well. “Often the staff hasn’t been watched for many years and have gotten set in their ways,” explains Skupinsky. “And those ways may not be acceptable.”