As a Condo Association Board, your job is to set the policy and direction for your Association. You are the executive board for the Condo, and that means you need to assign out work to be done – whether it is to Management for the operations of the Condo, to each other for specific tasks, or to Committees. Managing people is always a challenge, and a Condo Association presents a few unique issues on top of that. That said, with clear language and clear direction, you’ll learn to clearly assign work in a Condo Association.
Know What the Board Wants
The first thing you need to do is decide amongst the Board what it is you actually want. Are you looking for bids? Are you looking for a research report? What is the tangible output that you are expecting? This seems simple, but it is the first area where you will see the failure to correctly task work in a Condo Association. If the Board doesn’t know what it wants, it can’t effectively assign the work, end of story. As we all know, Boards can make the easiest things hard, so make sure you know as a group what you want before sending a Committee or Management off on a project. If you’re Management – you can help manage this by presenting actionable information to your Board.
To facilitate this process, I recommend the Board do as much in writing as possible – write the work you want done, and make sure everyone on the Board agrees. For example:
“We are going to task our Event Planning Committee to investigate catering options for our New Year’s party. They will get back to us with their three best recommendations within the budget we have assigned them.”
Further, make sure you have a majority of the Board in favor of the work as written so you have a mandate. If you don’t have a majority, the dissenting Board members can claim it wasn’t legitimately assigned work and further slow the process.
Clarify What the Deliverables Are and When You Want Them
Make sure you are clear about what the deliverables of your tasking are going to be. Going to our previous example of our New Year’s party, you might specify the following to your Event Planning Committee:
“Please prepare for the Board a report on catering options. The budget for the event is $5,000 and 200 people. Please provide us the best three options that can meet the budget and the quantity. Please include at least one bid for American style food, the other two bids can be whatever the Committee believes is best. For each option, provide the name of the vendor, the price of their bid, and a review by the Committee of the strengths and weaknesses of going with that option. A one-page review per vendor is sufficient. Please have this report ready one month from today, submitted at least five days before the next Board meeting.”
This may seem overkill, but remember, if you aren’t specific, you’re going to get whatever the Committee feels like giving you. They might decide, for example, to give you three Indian restaurant bids. When you ask why they did that, the answer will be, “Because you didn’t specify a food type, we decided on Indian food, and we got three bids around Indian food.” Now you’re pissed off because they went after Indian food and you wanted something else, and they’re pissed off they wasted their time. Whether it’s a volunteer on a Committee or your Management who is paid, no one likes wasting time. You also want to make sure you’re getting the right type of product. For example, if you’re doing preliminary landscaping work, you don’t want people running around getting bids – you want research. If you don’t specify, your Committee might run off and get bids you have no intention of following up on, which can hurt your relationship with local vendors.
You also want to specify a deadline for the work product, because typically any bid needs to be voted on at the next Board meeting, and you want time to read them. Without specifying a deadline, you risk the information being wasted and useless. Failed deliverables means you are being ineffective in your efforts to task work in a Condo Association.
If something is important, follow up with the people you tasked on it. Make sure they’re actually doing what you told them. The more important it is, the more often you need to ping them. A good rule of thumb for most tasks is to check in at the halfway point (i.e., if you gave them four weeks to do something, check at two weeks). If the tasking is indefinite (like, “go find out the answer to X as soon as possible”), check weekly. Don’t want until the next Board meeting to find out, “Oh we weren’t sure if the Board really wanted us to do that, so we didn’t do anything.” That’s bad and slows things down. Condo Associations are slow enough as is. Follow this advice doubly when dealing with your Management company – make sure they know what’s a priority and are acting on it.
The key to effectively task work in a Condo Association is to take nothing for granted. Make sure that your priorities are clearly reflected in your behavior and taskings. If you’re Management or a Committee member – or even another Board member – push the Board to be firm in their requirements. If they won’t’ give you firm requirements, it’s a sign that they don’t know what they want to do, which is never a recipe for productivity or success.