The Dark Side of Condo Property Management: The Secrets to Handling Negative People in Your Board of Directors

If you are currently on the board of directors for your condo association, you are probably familiar with the various personalities you have to deal with on a regular basis. As a condo property management company in Toronto, ICC® is familiar with these individuals as well.

All-in-all, many board members are people who simply care about the community in which they live and who sincerely want to do what is right for the condominium residents. They are often fairly well organized and willing to help out and take on any issues that they are equipped to deal with. The proof is in the statistics:

  • 92% of residents of condo communities have indicated they have had a positive or neutral experience.
  • 88% of residents of condo communities say that they feel their elected governing boards do the best they can to serve the best interests of their communities.
  • 81% feel that their association assessment provides them with a great or good return.
  • 76% feel that the rules put in place and enforced by their associations serve to enhance their property values.

Sometimes, however, you get board members who do not show up to meetings, which can create problems when voting or trying to decide certain important issues. Other times, meetings drag on for hours due to a dispute with a disruptive board member who refuses to cooperate with others. There may also be a pessimist on your board who simply wants to cause trouble and arguments for the sake of being negative.

If you are contending with any of these types of personalities, don’t worry: you are not alone. We here at ICC® Property Management have been helping boards of directors operate for many years, and are experts at condominium management in Toronto. Through our extensive experience, we have developed some effective strategies for dealing with difficult board members.

Note that helping a board of directors run smoothly is not necessarily the purview of a typical condo management company, but ICC® focuses on assisting these board members for the benefit of our resident customers, as a better board often means a better community overall.

Know your position and your board rules

One of the first things you can do to help manage a difficult situation is to be aware of your condo board’s policies and procedures as detailed in the bylaws and the rules and regulations. Knowing the rules is half of the battle when it comes to this side of condo property management.

You may find that your position contains some inherent power to settle a dispute without requiring the approval of other board members, or you may find the answer to a question about policies and enforcement right there in the rules, which would save you and your association a great deal of debate if the issue is already settled.

Recruit nay-sayers

You may find that a newcomer enters the association arena with an agenda and a list of complaints to deal with. Some of them you may disagree with. Others you might find appealing. However, these individuals may often become abrasive if they feel they are coming up against resistance, and they may also be unfamiliar with what they can and can’t do as part of condominium management in Toronto.

Rather than trying to fight these individuals head-on, you might try redirecting their energy, and even taking advantage of it to get things done that you do agree with. If this individual wants to undertake the monumental task of restructuring the association’s budget, then perhaps they should work with the property management company to see if it can be done.

Turning these individuals’ complaints about your community’s condo property management into action and having them go from “someone should do something” to “you will be the one to do something” can have one of two effects:

  • The member gets to address their own concerns, or
  • The member starts to understand the complexity surrounding certain issues and becomes more willing to compromise.

Learn the art of handling difficult people

If procedure, policy or a proactive approach all do not seem to help, you may simply be in a situation where you must learn to cope with a difficult individual.

Unfortunately, condominium management in Toronto is not immune to having these types of individuals on the board, and it can become highly frustrating. For your own sanity, you need to come up with strategies for handling this person.

Try being understanding at first. The individual in question may have a long-standing concern that he or she is simply frustrated about. These issues may get resolved with time if it is something over which there is a major disagreement and no easy answer.

If the person has a tendency to become angry and temperamental, try making it clear that such behaviour is not appropriate at an association meeting. Maintaining a professional atmosphere may help deter this kind of behaviour, and you can help by indicating to the person that you empathize with their concerns but would prefer to talk about them in a more reasonable and rational manner once they have calmed down.

There are other techniques you might try for diffusing difficult situations, such as humour and empathy. If these techniques are still ineffective, you may want to enlist the help of someone in Toronto property management or someone skilled at mediation in order to get things done. Ongoing issues may be addressed at election time as well, and you may be able to enlist the help of your community if you truly feel that someone is being disruptive as a board member.

Are you the member of the board of directors for your condo community? How do you deal with negative individuals on your board? Post this article on your Facebook page or with your condo group and start a discussion to get even more ideas.

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