Transparency Trend Reaches HOAs

A Must-Have for HOA Homeowners and Managers: A Fair, Unbiased Records Disclosure Policy.

Written by Marianne Schaefer for Read full article here.

Nov. 16, 2017

The trend toward greater transparency in cooperatives, condominiums and Homeowner Associations (HOA) continues its relentless march. On October 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law amending the state’s Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. This new amendment expands the rights of homeowners in HOAs to inspect the association’s invoices, ledgers, bank accounts, reconciliations, contracts, and any documents related to the expenditure of HOA dues.

“Generally speaking I see a trend to more and more transparency and a full disclosure of just about all documents,” says attorney Marc Schneider, a managing partner at Schneider Buchel. “I was very surprised that the legislature did not simultaneously amend the Business Corporation Law, which covers co-ops. But I think that, too, will come.”

[R]ecent court decisions have granted co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners greater access to documents. And the new law on HOA documents follows a recently enacted law requiring co-op and condo boards to prepare annual reports on all awarded contracts, plus any financial stake a director had in those contracts. Even if there was no conflict of interest, boards must prepare and distribute an annual report of all contracts.

“I think this is all going a bit too far,” Schneider says of the new HOA law. “It opens up the door for unnecessary scrutiny. The people who want access to these documents might have good intentions and want to help. But anybody who is looking at these documents will come up with their own interpretations….”

Cynthia Lovecchio, board president at The Legend Yacht & Beach Club (LYBC), a 47-unit HOA in Glen Cove, Long Island, is not worried about the current trend in laws and court decisions. “Even though I haven’t read the legislation, I’m a big advocate for transparency,” Lovecchio says.

Alvin Wasserman, director of asset management at Fairfield Properties, which manages LYBC, says, “I think increased transparency will take some of the mystery out of how boards conduct business.”

Schneider emphasizes that “review” does not mean a homeowner has the right to copy documents or take them out of the office. “The law says ‘review,’ which by definition means examine and not copy,” he says. “At best, the homeowner is allowed to take handwritten notes. This will protect boards somewhat from the improper dissemination of the information.”  He advises having someone present during document inspections to make sure no electronic devices are used.  Non-disclosure agreements are not required under the new law. The law does require that the requesting member must have been a homeowner of record for at least six months immediately preceding the inspection request.

Will the new law be a burden to boards and their management companies? Wasserman doesn’t think so. “As for extra work,” he says, “all boards have to do is post their monthly financial reports on the password-protected HOA website.”

Preparing Young Professionals for the Workforce

“Although they sometimes appear uninterested … young professionals may actually be frustrated by how much they don’t know.”

Excerpts from Closing the Competence Gap: Preparing Young Professionals for the Workforce, written by Nick J. Howe and published in The CET Connection, a publication of The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

The use of the word “incompetence” is not meant as an insult but merely to recognize a lack of knowledge or experience in particular areas. Incompetence is a two-fold challenge. The first is conscious incompetence, when people are aware of what they don’t know. Young professionals, in particular, can be overwhelmed by how much they don’t know or understand, which makes them unproductive. Although they sometimes appear uninterested, these young professionals may actually be frustrated by how much they don’t know, as well as the fact that they are not being effectively trained and have no idea how to reach out for help.

The second is unconscious incompetence, when people assume that they know something but, in fact, they do not. Ironically, this type of incompetence can set in just as young professionals begin to learn about the company, its products and services, and how to perform their jobs. Training that consists of cramming as much information as possible is not only ineffective in promoting knowledge retention, but it can also trigger a bigger danger: Having completed the training, young professionals (and experienced employees, as well) may incorrectly believe they truly know the information. Instead, they are unconsciously incompetent, which can lead to serious errors, dissatisfied customers and even safety issues.

When Training Does More Harm Than Good

The obvious answer to addressing incompetence is more and better training, but here’s the tricky part: Far too often, training consists of rote memorization of the company handbook or product materials, or it focuses on the basics of HR processes at the expense of more meaningful development. Online training that involves nothing more than putting static material online undermines engagement and does not assess how much learners have truly grasped.

The Adaptive Solution: Building Competence and Confidence

More young professionals are entering the workforce, equipping this group with the skills they need requires a proven approach that builds competence and confidence.

Adaptive learning uses a questions-first approach, probing what learners already know, where they have gaps in their knowledge and their confidence in what they know. When gaps are uncovered, the platform provides resources that are personalized to the learner. In addition, adaptive systems ask learners to rate how well they know a piece of content (measuring their confidence) before the correct answer is revealed. This self-assessment data can be used to further adapt and individualize the learning experience. As a result, learners become more proficient and more confident in their knowledge.

“For young professionals, adaptive learning may very well be the difference between success and failure.”

Holiday Vacation Headaches

From The Muse By CEO Coach Kim Scott

Dear Candid Boss,

With the holidays just around the corner, I want everyone to be able to take the time off they need—but we also have work to do. How can a manager account for everyone’s holiday plans while still making sure the work gets done?

Don’t Call Me Scrooge

Dear Don’t Call Me Scrooge,

It’s that time of year when many of your employees want time off.

For lots of companies, this is also the busiest part of the year. At this point, you need extra hands on deck—not everyone disappearing. And yet declining vacation requests is hard. You don’t want to feel like the Grinch, after all.

Your goal is to find a solution that’s fair to all of your employees. Here are a few tips to make sure your team’s to-do list gets accomplished—while still letting your employees enjoy a well-deserved holiday break.

1. Let Employees Make Trade-offs

You can’t possibly know all the different plans everyone on your team is making over the holidays. Moreover, you don’t need to know—it’s far too exhausting and time-consuming to keep track of.

So, explain to everyone on your team what the coverage needs are, and then let employees figure out who will take care of what. Your job is to create a system that makes it really clear what is needed and when it’s required by—and then let your employees work out who covers for whom.

If you design a system that’s transparent and flexible enough that employees can swap out with each other without creating chaos, things will run much smoother for everyone.

Once you’ve done that, resist the urge to get dragged into the middle of every trade that employees make. Set the expectation that they need to work those things out fairly and amicably between each other. (Of course, if things start to go off the rails, you will have to step in.)

2. Don’t Assume

Remember, not everyone wants to celebrate the same holidays. Plenty of people were raised in other traditions and religions, meaning they might not even want the time off that you’re expecting they would. Additionally, there are people who simply dislike the holidays and would rather work.

If you can, offer people who don’t mind coming into the office during the holidays extra time off at a less busy time of the year. Let people who work on Christmas Eve, for example, take an extra day and a half or even two days off when things are less frantic.

3. Show you Care

Unfortunately, your entire team can’t take vacation at the same time—which means you’ll have the unpleasant task of needing to deny some time off requests.

When an employee’s disappointed that you’ve said no, don’t act like it’s no big deal, or assume that he should just suck it up, or behave as if his feelings are not your problem.

Put simply, eliminate the words “be professional” from your vocabulary. People have emotions. It’s part of your job as a boss to deal with them. You get paid in part for doing this emotional labor.

To help show you care, frame your “no” in a kind way. Perhaps, think about a time when you had to miss an event that was important to you and share that story with the employee. Or you could offer something else to show that you truly care. A half-day that doesn’t count against his PTO in January? A full day off? Drinks on the company? How about lunch?

A good response looks like this:

“I’m sorry, but I need you to work then. I know it sucks to have to work over the holidays. I remember a time when I [example]. If there’s something I can do to make it a little easier let me know. How about an extra day in January?”

Remember: A little compassion goes a long way.
Lastly, remember that as the leader, you should be the one to work when nobody else wants to. Not all the time. But not never or almost never either.

I know, this isn’t the most fun time of year for managers and having to decline vacation requests certainly adds a layer of stress to the holidays. But if you’re fair, kind, and flexible with your team, they can’t act like you’re insane for not wanting everything to burn down over the holidays.

More About Kim Scott
Kim Scott is the author of the NYT & WSJ bestseller Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity and co-hosts with Russ Laraway the podcast Radical Candor. Kim led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google and then joined Apple University to develop and teach the course “Managing at Apple.” Kim has been a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and several other tech companies. Follow her on Twitter @candor or Facebook.

Start Planning Now for the Company Party


Excerpts from Tips for Planning Your Association’s Year-End Celebration, written by Emily Bratcher, Contributing Editor, for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Read full article.

The end of 2017 is drawing near, which means it’s time for organizations to start planning their year-end celebrations. The Society for Human Resource Management offers a few tips.

  1.  Consider your culture – [I]t’s more important for the celebration … to be perceived as genuine and sincere.
  2. Consider an activity – Sometimes planning a staff outing is a refreshing change of pace.
  3. Consider family – If your workplace touts itself as family friendly … then end-of-year celebration could be a good time to show it.
  4. Consider timing – End of year is busy for everyone. If you’re behind the eight ball with planning, consider a celebration early in the new year.
  5. Consider liabilities – Consider whether or not serving alcohol will be a party pleaser or a party pooper.


No Such Thing As A Dumb Question

Excerpts from The Cultural Challenge of Board Orientation from Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Read full article here

There may be no such thing as a dumb question, but new board members aren’t always trained to understand that. Orientation should cover the importance of openness along with the nuts and bolts.

That’s one of the helpful pieces of advice that comes from a new book, Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector. In it, Stanford business professors William F. Meehan III and Kim Starkey Jonker address matters of mission, strategy, team-building, finance, and more. We’ve covered their research on board effectiveness and term limits here before, and a theme tends to emerge in their writing regarding governance—if the people you have on your board are incurious, or only narrowly curious, you don’t want them on your board.

That’s easier said than done, though, for at least two reasons. First, they write, board meetings are often structured in such a way as to close off conversation, not encourage it. “The agenda of a typical nonprofit board meeting consists of pre-baked committee reporting that is designed to preclude discussion—and, truth be told, nonprofit staff often like it that way because it keeps board members from suggesting ideas that might be unrealistic or generate unnecessary work.” A second reason it’s difficult is that board members may not be well-oriented enough about their duties to even recognize the virtue of asking questions.

[A] recent study on association board service by the consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles and the George Mason University law school, which found some serious orientation gaps at associations. According to the study, only 45 percent of board members surveyed said their organization had a “defined onboarding process,” and only 46 percent say their onboarding experience prepared them to be an effective board member. And when board members aren’t sure what they’re doing, that timidity risks spilling over into their decision-making. “When people are uncertain about what’s expected of them, they probably tend to be reluctant to be more engaged,” Dr. David K. Rehr, who was interviewed for this article.

The board leads the association, but it needn’t be expected to take successful orientation into its own hands. Ultimately, staff leaders need to establish a tone that makes clear that they are encouraged to bring their ideas, to ask questions (even stupid ones!), and focus on mission. “Senior leadership needs to ensure that each board member understands expectations,” write the authors of the Heidrick & Struggles/GMU report. “Open lines of communication are critical to establishing a culture of honest discussion and confirming board members are prepared and willing to contribute before, during, and after formal board meetings.”

The crucial question for those charged with orienting board members is: How well am I helping them do that?

What Impact Will Generation Z Have on the Workplace?

Oct. 27, 2017 – This article is reproduced from Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and was written by social media journalist, Ernie Smith.

Click here to access the original article.

To hear it from one recent survey, a lot of managers in the HR department and beyond are concerned about what generation Z—aka people born since 1994—will bring to the workplace.

According to the survey, released by the employee communications firm APPrise Mobile, up to a third of managers worry that employees in gen Z will be a handful.

On top of that, around 26 percent say they foresee communication problems with the younger generation, while 29 percent worry about issues with training, and 16 percent worry about cultural effects.

(Technical skills are likely to be a plus side, though—something 44 percent of respondents noted.)

Certainly, a new generation of workers has the potential to change a lot about your workplace. But is it all bad? A few insights from the world of HR worth keeping an eye on:

Benefits will shift. Here’s how. You may have heard about the increase in interest in certain esoteric benefits such as pet insurance and student loan repayment programs, and there’s a case to be made that gen Z is driving the growth in these programs. A recent article from Employee Benefit News [registration] suggests that those benefits and others will become more common as younger employees, who are less interested in traditional benefits like health insurance, start to fill seats in the office. Additionally, the report notes that this group is likely to be the first generation native to social media and will expect HR departments to offer more tools clearly inspired by social media, such as video services and real-time feedback programs.

Think of them as a generation of entrepreneurs. Since gen Z-ers grew up during an era in which a lot of the technology they use was created by startups, there may be a stronger focus on workflow among the younger generation as it enters the workforce. In a Society for Human Resource Management article with his father, David Stillman, gen Z-er Jonah Stillman argued that streamlining will be a common theme among younger employees. “We will constantly look for ways to streamline processes and procedures. One thing we hear from a lot of gen Z-ers is that we think the other generations overcomplicate things,” he said in the article. “We have grown up in a time where often the middleman has been eliminated, so we will look for ways to do things more efficiently when we show up at the office.”

Expect changes in recruiting. In comments to Human Resource Executive, Randstad North America’s Jim Stroud, who leads that company’s sourcing and recruiting strategy, says that while he sees old-school recruiting strategies making a comeback, generation Z may prove somewhat resistant to these strategies, as millennials have. “Getting passive candidates to talk to you requires a bit of salesmanship, which is something many baby boomers take for granted but does not appear to come naturally to millennials and members of generation Z,” he told the magazine.

HOA Homefront: 11 sure-fire ways to frustrate HOA elections

This recent article from The San Diego Union-Tribune written by Kelly G. Richardson, Esq., Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers, demonstrates the need for trained, qualified community managers, like a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA). Read the Full story here. A synopsis follows:

11 mistakes that can take down your Community Association elections:

    1. Ignore procedure. Check your state’s civil code for the guidance on the process … homeowner associations that either intentionally or ignorantly do not follow the process leave their elections vulnerable to challenge.
    2. Abandon the election rules. Again, check your state’s civil code for guidance on HOA election rules which have been put in place for a reason … organized, fairer elections
    3. Forget to appoint an inspector of elections. Whether paid professionals or homeowner volunteer, the official should be appointment during an open board meeting and given instructions on the specifics of the job.
    4. Allow proxies. HOAs should send ballots prior to the election giving everyone a chance to participate, leaving the need for proxies moot.
    5. Skip vote counting in uncontested elections. If your state requires the process of opening and counting ballots, even if the number of candidates equals the number of open seats, then you must do it.
    6. Allow the election inspector to make legal decisions. Whether or the election inspector is a lawyer by trade is irrelevant. The purpose of the election inspector is to validate the election, not to render legal advice.
    7. Don’t include a full copy of a proposed CC&Rs (covenants, conditions & restrictions) with the ballot. If your state law requires the text of a CC&R or bylaw amendment, then it must be included with the ballot.
    8. Ask your manager to be the inspector. Even if your state allows it, an astute Community Association Manager would suggest the practice could raise eyebrows and problems.
    9. Allow the manager or vendors to lobby for or against candidates. To do otherwise could raise ethics questions.
    10. Don’t announce election results. Check your state civil code for guidance, written results to the community should be made within the specified period of time.
    11. Don’t participate. Failed quorums damper, not only elections, but homeowner morale and attitudes. Encourage participation and give homeowners a voice.


Advance Your Career with the CMCA

Job prospects in the field of community association management are excellent and the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA®) credential is key to building a successful career in this field.

Are you ready to show that you have the skills needed to manage a community association? The CMCA credential recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the fundamental knowledge required to manage community associations. For a small investment in time and money, you can earn this certification and be recognized as a committed professional.  In this session you will learn what the CMCA is, required prerequisites, how to apply for the CMCA exam, and how earning the CMCA credential can help advance your career.  The presenter, Robert Felix, Associa Regional Vice President – West, is a dynamic leader with over 35 years of experience in community association management. Mr. Felix is a past CAMICB Board of Commissioners Chair and is currently the CAMICB Exam Development Committee Chair. He will provide you with the information you need to get started on your path towards earning this valuable credential!

Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: FREE

Click Here to Register Now

CMCA and the CAM Career Path


Very Positive Outlook for the Career Path of Credentialed Community Association Managers

Community association management remains a strong career path, both in the U.S. and abroad. The job market here at home has dramatically changed over the last decade, with many once-secure positions having shifted out of the country. For the foreseeable future, community association management’s person-to-person focus will protect it from automation, robots, or companies moving overseas, making it a great career choice.

The Community Associations Institute (CAI) estimates that as of 2016, there are approximately 342,000 to 344,000 community associations in the United States housing over 68 million residents. This is a significant increase, up from 222,500 community associations and 42.5 million residents in 2000. As the number of people living in community associations increases, so does the number of jobs for community association managers.

Career Outlook
Job prospects in the field of community association management are excellent. According to CAI’s Community Association Manager Compensation and Salary Survey, it’s estimated that 24% – 26% of all ownership housing is in one of the three basic types of community associations. Many new job opportunities will open for those interested in the field, while others will arise from the need to replace community association managers who transfer, retire, or leave the field. As of May 2016, the median annual wage for community association managers was just over $57,000.  Employment in the industry is projected to grow eight percent from 2014 to 2024.

As job prospects and wages vary from state to state, it’s a good idea to check out your area’s particulars.

CMCA – The Essential Credential
The Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential is key to building a successful career in community association management. It signifies to employers that you are competent in specific management practices and are committed to professional excellence, ethical business standards, and continuing education. Employers are always on the lookout for dedicated professionals, and the CMCA certification after your name can often make the difference between whether or not you land the all-important first interview.

The CMCA credential is highly accessible:

  • It can be achieved with a minimal investment of time and money on your part.
  • It takes just a few days of prerequisite course work, one day for an exam, and some time for study in between.
  • It’s relatively low cost is a great investment in your future.

Obtaining the CMCA credential is a great first step in building your professional expertise and image. It opens the door to earning additional credentials and higher earnings – on average 18% more than non-credentialed community association managers.

Is a Certified Manager of Community Associations Career Right for You?
This may be an excellent career choice for you if you have a strong interest in working for community associations, providing the management activities they need to keep residents satisfied. As a certified manager, you should have a thorough knowledge of the policies of the community association you hope to work for.

Attention to detail, flexibility, good organization skills and, as previously mentioned, that all-important patience, are essential characteristics that good community association managers possess. There’s more! Community association managers must also have excellent interpersonal skills, be able to effectively communicate with a diverse range of people, and be able to deal with a variety of unrelated tasks at once.

All Work and No Fun?
Not at all! The best parts of life as a community association manager are also built into the job itself. Not only do you earn a decent living, but you are constantly learning new things, and meeting interesting people from all walks of life. The odds of becoming bored on the job are slim – there are just too many different and interesting things to do.

That said, community association management is not for everyone. If you prefer a more laid-back work life with fixed hours and minimal or no job-related stress, you might want to pursue another career. But if you’re a real people person who gets excited about staying up to date on frequent community management regulatory changes, possess a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards life, and can keep your wits about you when others around you are stressed, you can’t ask for a more engaging and stimulating career!

Becoming a certified manager of community associations is not merely a certification – it can be the journey of a lifetime. It elevates your credibility as a community association manager and makes employers more confident in hiring you. Finally, it offers you a wealth of opportunity, stability, and growth in an exciting career that shows no sign of slowing down.

Get a $5 Starbucks Gift Card for Your $.02

But, you’ll need to act FAST! The Foundation for Community Association Research’s Technology Survey closes Oct. 13! Everyone who participates gets a $5 Starbucks card and becomes eligible to win a $50 Visa gift card!

<>>CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY Take the Foundation's Technology Survey, administered nationally by Strategic Research Partners and Research Now.

Just 15 minutes is all it takes to share your insights and ensure that community associations worldwide are adopting innovative technology and privacy safeguards to manage threats and achieve success!

Got questions about the survey? Contact Jake or Melinda