Peace of mind comes from knowing that not only do you have the right people doing the right job, but also knowing that those people work and respect each other personally and as a team.
Having been a building superintendent for almost 30 years, I can honestly say that I have seen it all. More importantly, I have seen many changes over the years in how buildings are run and how building staff and management interact. Back in the "good old days," the super was king of the building. What he said went. He hired and fired whom he wanted, and rarely felt compelled to listen to the managing agent or the board, running the building as he saw fit. Back then, supers even rented apartments. Today, it's rare for supers to have such direct influence. While some supers may have some discretion in running their buildings, others are kept on a relatively short leash.
Teamwork is at the top of the answer list; teamwork between the managing agent, the superintendent and the board is vital to any building. Dick Koral, director of the Apartment House Institute at the New York City College of Technology and secretary-treasurer of the Superintendents Club of New York, has been involved with building operations for over 30 years and is considered a guru amongst people involved with real estate. According to Koral, "For a co-op/condo building to be maintained effectively, there needs to be close and respectful collaboration among a troika consisting of the board - represented by one person designated as chair of the building and grounds committee - the building site manager, and the building's superintendent. A good analogy might be a three-legged stool: If one leg is weak, the stool is not very useful."
Ask any cook what makes a dish great, and she might reply that it's all in the right proportion of ingredients. So what makes a building well run? Well, it's all the ingredients coming together, in the right proportions. Just as in cooking, if you leave one ingredient out or change the proportion, it changes the dish - and not always for the better. Teamwork, trust, and devotion should be a credo in your building and not just words. Is it super-versus-managing agent in your building, or is it super-and-managing agent?
Sometimes, a super and a managing agent are bound to butt heads - I've been there myself. In that scenario no one wins, least of all the building. Some board members think that it's healthy to have the super and managing agent at odds with each other all the time - as though conflict stimulates new ideas and productivity. Perhaps in some cases, that's correct in the short term, but in the long term, it never works. Ask any building that has a high turnover with supers or managers, and you will find disorder, neglect, and even outright chaos.