In today’s world of association management this is what homeowners and board members generally ask themselves. The answer will even change depending on the situation. Much like any other relationship, when a positive interaction occurs - the answer is “Friend”, and on the other side - if it’s negative, the result is “Foe”.
In the association management industry, community association managers (or CAMs) are battling this issue on a daily basis. Often the reality of the law and personal opinion conflict. As a strong service-oriented person, we want to follow the rule of ‘the customer is always right’. Unfortunately, that is not always true. A board member going against the association-governed documents, based on his own personal feelings, will lead the Association down a path that not only could be legally incorrect but also costly in the litigious society in which we live.
A recent example: a few long term board members wanted to waive assessments for owners that had hit hard times but had never been late in over 15 years. While the thought was understandable, the manager had to make them aware this could not be done. If allowed, it would have to be offered to the entire membership, setting a precedence that the association could not afford, nor legally could do.
The manager (with legal explanation in hand) presented to the Board at the next meeting. Those Board members who strongly wanted to offer the waiver felt that the manager was not being a partner and had now become the enemy against the community, the Board and the membership. Of course this was not the case. From that point on, the manager was met with hostile, argumentative behavior.
Once this occurs, it is very difficult to move forward. The broken relationship will need to be repaired first. By further explaining the legal point and offering other ways to accomplish this goal - the manager can work to achieve common ground.
To not take it personal, but yet care personally, is a fine line to walk. Managers are the complaint department and not friend or foe, but the neutral mediator. A manager is a partner to all. The ground could be full of land mines or beautiful wild flowers and on occasion both. No matter the land, we must walk confident whether or not we are liked or disliked on any particular day.
We are service minded experts and those that truly get this ideal are successful. Doing what’s right for all is right!