New CMCAs Share Insights On Preparing For the CMCA Exam During A Pandemic

As CAMICB Board of Commissioners Chair, Drew Mulhare, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, said in a letter to CMCA credential holders in May, “ The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has impacted our businesses, our communities, our educational institutions, our families – every aspect of our lives – each of us has been faced with the challenge of defining new ways to work, interact with our colleagues, protect and serve our client communities, and keep our families safe and connected. I believe we are all realizing that our futures will, in many ways, be shaped by meeting the challenges of the present. And the stories of perseverance, courage, commitment, and compassion that are emerging all around us are powerful and heartening.”

Six months later, those words continue to ring true.  

Also during this time, hundreds of CMCA exam candidates felt the weight of the pandemic through a different lens that meant preparing, studying, and taking the CMCA examination under extraordinary circumstances.

CAMICB caught up with a few CMCAs who recently took and passed the CMCA exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. They generously shared their experiences during this time: how they prepared for the exam in the pandemic environment, the experience of actually sitting for the exam amid pandemic restrictions, and the advice or tips they would offer current candidates who are studying and preparing to take the exam.

While many missed the opportunity to study at libraries or with colleagues at coffee shops, each of the new CMCAs we spoke with navigated a new normal to earn their CMCA credential.

Cathy Baldwin, CMCA, Owner of Baldwin Management Resources on the resources she found most useful in preparing for the exam:

“For starters, the M100 text book was a great resource. However, I wanted more detail on Risk Management & Governance, so I took an M200 level class to supplement my knowledge. In addition, the CMCA practice exam was an excellent way to determine my areas of weakness. Finally, the CMCA exam Quizlet was also a useful resource.”

Cathy also recommends, “scheduling to sit for the exam well in advance, as changing conditions during the pandemic may cause a delay. Then, I suggest allowing one hour a day, five days a week, for several months to get ready. When testing, be sure to take your time and read and re-read the test questions.”

Bruce Hill, CMCA, Community Manager for Elite Management Professionals, AAMC made the most of the extra unplanned study time:

“I was prepared to take the exam and felt I was ready in early March. As things went into lockdown around the country, I searched for a testing site near me and they were all closed for the foreseeable future.  At that time, I was only 5 months into my job, though I come from years in Real Estate and Property Management. It turns out the additional months waiting for test centers to reopen enabled me to study more, and allowed my portfolio to grow. I was able to dig deeper into the different types of communities – so the extra study time was beneficial to me – both academically and applying the concepts in real life scenarios.”

“The CMCA Practice Exams were a huge help in switching from the test questions in the preparation/study guide to what the actual test questions would look like. I’d recommend the practice exams to anyone who is preparing to take the exam. I spent $40 for the pair of tests, and took one in March, then I saved the next for the week before my exam so it was fresh in my mind. It worked out very well!”

Wade O’Hara, CMCA, Association Manager, Classic Property Management AAMC echoes Bruce’s sentiment on the practice exams:

“The practice exams were very informative. They familiarize you with the wording and language as the exam uses similar phrasing. You have a year after registering to take the exam, so make sure you’re ready – there is no need to rush in unprepared.”

Marla Elkon, CMCA, Community Manager, Clagett Management WV VA, LLC found herself as busy as ever during this time:

“I’ve been just as busy during the pandemic between taking on new house projects and balancing the needs of my kids. I really had to make time for myself. I would carve out very specific blocks of study time and my husband and kids were terrific and supportive. For me, the key was using multiple resources to prepare including the M100 textbook, the CMCA study guide, the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning course modules, and the CMCA practice exam – twice online and once written!  I also reviewed the Community Association Management Best Practice Reports and the CMCA Exam Quizlet was excellent – it was a different way to keep the material current and fresh in my mind.  The variety of resources each had different approaches and angles, which was helpful.”

CAMICB has recently added a brand new resource for exam candidates – the CMCA Exam Preparation E-Learning course. The course is a free on-demand resource designed to strengthen test strategies and prepare candidates for the CMCA exam. It offers constructive test taking tips, examines the composition of exam questions, offers study tips, and provides an interactive self-assessment tool to help candidates develop a study plan specific to their needs. To learn more and get started – go to: https://www.camicb.org/Pages/CMCA-Online-Learning.aspx

As Cathy, Bruce, Wade and Marla have demonstrated – along with hundreds of other exam candidates who recently earned their CMCA credential – there are a variety of tools and resources available to help candidates properly and successfully prepare for the CMCA exam even in the midst of a global pandemic. This latest cadre of CMCAs have passed a rigorous exam, demonstrating they have a proven and solid understanding of the many diverse business operations involved in being a community association manager.  Despite an extremely challenging environment, they’ve earned this internationally-recognized credential that serves as the cornerstone of their career as a professional community association manager.

Is The CMCA Retired Status Program For You?

The CAMICB Retired Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA®) program is available to community association management professionals no longer actively employed as a community association manager but interested in highlighting their continuing commitment to professionalism in the field. This program allows individuals retired from active community association management to display this new designation with no obligation to meet continuing education requirements.

Retirement Doesn’t Mean Walking Away From The Profession

For the many retired community association management professionals who obtained their CMCA and maintained it over the years, staying active in the industry is an important – and fulfilling – phase of retirement.

“I decided to apply for retired status rather than just walk away from maintaining my CMCA because it’s an honor I wasn’t ready to part with,” said Judy Rosen, CMCA (Ret.), AMS, PCAM (Ret.). “Even though I retired from full-time work as a community association manager more than five years ago, it was important for me to remain actively involved in the industry.” Rosen is currently a member of the CAMICB Exam Development Committee and a member of the CAI National Faculty.  “Displaying my CMCA (Ret.) is especially important to me, particularly when I facilitate the PCAM Case Study; the students should know I earned my CMCA credential.”

Rosen added, “The value in maintaining this new designation is the world recognition I enjoy. No matter where I go for a faculty assignment, or what CAI Chapter asks me speak at a local conference, these audiences know I’m one of them with experience and expertise in the profession.  And I believe this is particularly important to managers!”

In short, the benefits of obtaining CMCA (Ret.) status include:

  • A meaningful way to honor your commitment and years of service to the profession;
  • The ability to showcase this new designation, CMCA (Ret.), with no obligation to meeting continuing education requirements;
  • A way to stay connected to an expanding group of committed professionals; and,
  • The ability to remain active in the industry in rewarding and fulfilling areas of your choice.

Applying for CMCA (Ret.) status is simple!

  • Complete a retired status application.
  • Pay an annual fee of $25.
  • Continue to abide by the CMCA Standards of Professional Conduct.

For more on obtaining CMCA (Ret.) status, go to www.camicb.org.

New CMCAs Share Insights On Preparing For the CMCA Exam During A Pandemic

As CAMICB Board of Commissioners Chair, Drew Mulhare, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, said in a letter to CMCA credential holders in May, “ The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has impacted our businesses, our communities, our educational institutions, our families – every aspect of our lives – each of us has been faced with the challenge of defining new ways to work, interact with our colleagues, protect and serve our client communities, and keep our families safe and connected. I believe we are all realizing that our futures will, in many ways, be shaped by meeting the challenges of the present. And the stories of perseverance, courage, commitment, and compassion that are emerging all around us are powerful and heartening.”

Six months later, those words continue to ring true.  

Also during this time, hundreds of CMCA exam candidates felt the weight of the pandemic through a different lens that meant preparing, studying, and taking the CMCA examination under extraordinary circumstances.

CAMICB caught up with a few CMCAs who recently took and passed the CMCA exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. They generously shared their experiences during this time: how they prepared for the exam in the pandemic environment, the experience of actually sitting for the exam amid pandemic restrictions, and the advice or tips they would offer current candidates who are studying and preparing to take the exam.

While many missed the opportunity to study at libraries or with colleagues at coffee shops, each of the new CMCAs we spoke with navigated a new normal to earn their CMCA credential.

Cathy Baldwin, CMCA, Owner of Baldwin Management Resources on the resources she found most useful in preparing for the exam:

“For starters, the M100 text book was a great resource. However, I wanted more detail on Risk Management & Governance, so I took an M200 level class to supplement my knowledge. In addition, the CMCA practice exam was an excellent way to determine my areas of weakness. Finally, the CMCA exam Quizlet was also a useful resource.”

Cathy also recommends, “scheduling to sit for the exam well in advance, as changing conditions during the pandemic may cause a delay. Then, I suggest allowing one hour a day, five days a week, for several months to get ready. When testing, be sure to take your time and read and re-read the test questions.”

Bruce Hill, CMCA, Community Manager for Elite Management Professionals, AAMC made the most of the extra unplanned study time:

“I was prepared to take the exam and felt I was ready in early March. As things went into lockdown around the country, I searched for a testing site near me and they were all closed for the foreseeable future.  At that time, I was only 5 months into my job, though I come from years in Real Estate and Property Management. It turns out the additional months waiting for test centers to reopen enabled me to study more, and allowed my portfolio to grow. I was able to dig deeper into the different types of communities – so the extra study time was beneficial to me – both academically and applying the concepts in real life scenarios.”

“The CMCA Practice Exams were a huge help in switching from the test questions in the preparation/study guide to what the actual test questions would look like. I’d recommend the practice exams to anyone who is preparing to take the exam. I spent $40 for the pair of tests, and took one in March, then I saved the next for the week before my exam so it was fresh in my mind. It worked out very well!”

Wade O’Hara, CMCA, Association Manager, Classic Property Management AAMC echoes Bruce’s sentiment on the practice exams:

“The practice exams were very informative. They familiarize you with the wording and language as the exam uses similar phrasing. You have a year after registering to take the exam, so make sure you’re ready – there is no need to rush in unprepared.”

Marla Elkon, CMCA, Community Manager, Clagett Management WV VA, LLC found herself as busy as ever during this time:

“I’ve been just as busy during the pandemic between taking on new house projects and balancing the needs of my kids. I really had to make time for myself. I would carve out very specific blocks of study time and my husband and kids were terrific and supportive. For me, the key was using multiple resources to prepare including the M100 textbook, the CMCA study guide, the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning course modules, and the CMCA practice exam – twice online and once written!  I also reviewed the Community Association Management Best Practice Reports and the CMCA Exam Quizlet was excellent – it was a different way to keep the material current and fresh in my mind.  The variety of resources each had different approaches and angles, which was helpful.”

CAMICB has recently added a brand new resource for exam candidates – the CMCA Exam Preparation E-Learning course. The course is a free on-demand resource designed to strengthen test strategies and prepare candidates for the CMCA exam. It offers constructive test taking tips, examines the composition of exam questions, offers study tips, and provides an interactive self-assessment tool to help candidates develop a study plan specific to their needs. To learn more and get started – go to: https://www.camicb.org/Pages/CMCA-Online-Learning.aspx

As Cathy, Bruce, Wade and Marla have demonstrated – along with hundreds of other exam candidates who recently earned their CMCA credential – there are a variety of tools and resources available to help candidates properly and successfully prepare for the CMCA exam even in the midst of a global pandemic. This latest cadre of CMCAs have passed a rigorous exam, demonstrating they have a proven and solid understanding of the many diverse business operations involved in being a community association manager.  Despite an extremely challenging environment, they’ve earned this internationally-recognized credential that serves as the cornerstone of their career as a professional community association manager.

Celebrating Its 25thAnniversary, CAMICB Launches The CMCA Exam Preparation E-Learning Course

Free Online Resource Helps Candidates Successfully Prepare For The CMCA Exam

By Madeline Hay, CAMICB’s Manager of Exam Administration

Underscoring a quarter century of commitment to professionalism and excellence in community association management, CAMICB is excited to continue to celebrate the organization’s 25th Anniversary with the launch of a free, interactive online CMCA Exam Preparation e-Learning course. 

The three-hour course, featuring a series of eight modules, is divided into two components. The first component features four learning modules focused on creating an examination review and preparation plan. The second component includes three scenario-based learning modules that are designed to put several of the knowledge areas tested on the CMCA examination in context using real-life scenarios. The three modules address knowledge areas that are challenging for many CMCA candidates: Risk Management & Insurance; Financial Controls; and Governance, Legal & Ethical Conduct.  A final module is intended to offer some perspective on the exam preparation process and next steps.

Said Chair of the CAMICB Board of Commissioners Drew Mulhare, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, “CAMICB is always working to identify new tools to help CMCA candidates succeed on the exam. We’re excited to launch the CMCA Exam Prep e-Learning course – a free resource intended to put candidates on the path to the CMCA credential.”

The Course Modules

The exam preparation modules offer constructive test taking tips, discuss the composition of examination questions, give preparation advice, and provide an interactive self-assessment tool to help a candidate develop a study plan specific to that candidate’s needs and goals. The content-based modules ask the candidate to solve problems and answer questions using downloadable sample documents. 

Each module takes approximately 10-25 minutes to complete. The course is designed to accommodate busy schedules and to allow candidates to work at their own pace, so they may stop and resume the modules as their schedule permits. Below is a brief description of the different modules and what candidates can expect.

Module 1: An Introduction

Learn what it takes to pass the CMCA exam. Get advice from working CMCAs about what worked for them as they were preparing for the test – and what didn’t. Find out some common misconceptions about the CMCA exam and uncover the key for understanding how to approach the exam questions.

Module 2: Devising a Study Plan, Part 1 – Prioritizing Topics 

Discover how to establish and follow a solid study routine that’s tailored to your experience level. Get an in-depth look at the topic areas covered on the test and participate in a self-assessment exercise to determine which topics should be prioritized in your study plan. 

Module 3: Devising a Study Plan, Part 2 – Strategies and Tips 

Find out how to put your study plan into action. Learn practical tips and tricks to make the most of your prep time and take a closer look at some of the study resources available to you. 

A recent course participant shared, “The study resources provided in the CMCA exam prep course are excellent. It gave me a much better understanding of what material to really focus on.”

Module 4: Test-Taking Strategies

Learn how to maximize your potential on exam day. Find out how taking practice tests can improve your performance on the exam, get some guidance on strategies to overcome test anxiety, and see what to expect when you go to the testing center. 

Modules 5 and 6 use real-life scenarios that help you learn from detailed feedback. They also make use of downloadable sample files including Lakeside Terrace’s insurance declaration and financial documents to inform your decisions. 

Said one course participant, “For me, the CMCA exam prep course was so much more effective than simply reading different texts.”

Module 5: Risk Management & Insurance – Refresher Content 

Apply your knowledge of risk management and insurance topics by putting yourself in the shoes of the community association manager for Lakeside Terrace Condominiums. 

Module 6: Financial Controls – Refresher Content 

Revisit your role as Lakeside Terrace’s community association manager as you encounter some scenarios that test key knowledge about financial controls.

Module 7: Governance, Legal & Ethical Conduct – Refresher Content

Another real-life scenario allows you to visit Willow Grove Estates, where you have been hired as the association’s first community manager. 

Module 8: Looking Back and Looking Forward

An opportunity to recall what you’ve learned and consider what you want to keep working on. 

At CAMICB, we’re committed to offering a combination of study tools to enhance candidate performance.  Therefore, we encourage exam candidates to develop a personal study plan incorporating a wide range of resources and reference materials. CMCA preparatory materials are all available online – most at no cost – to managers employed anywhere in the world. We’re thrilled to add our newest offering, the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning Course, to our portfolio of resources. 

Earning and maintaining this internationally-recognized credential propels a manager’s career forward, allowing for more advanced career opportunities and salaries that, on average, are 20 percent higher than non-credentialed managers. To get started and to learn more about the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning course, visit www.camicb.org.

What HR needs to know now about COVID-19 vaccine policy

As a COVID-19 vaccine appears closer to reality, this is the time for employers to weigh the options and make decisions about vaccination policies.

By: Andrea M. Kirshenbaum | November 9, 2020 For Human Resources Executive

As Pfizer moved closer to a COVID-19 vaccine with news this morning that its early trials are widely effective, employers and employees alike remain hungry for a return to “normal.” Yet, until a vaccine is widely available, many businesses continue to manage a largely remote workforce. The hope is that a potential COVID-19 vaccination will usher employees back to work.

But recent polls have shown continued skepticism surrounding a potential COVID-19 vaccination. A September poll by the Pew Research Center found that 49% of respondents “definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time.” Another study undertaken by the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet found that only 50%-59.9% of U.S. respondents agree that “vaccines are safe.”

For employers depending on widespread COVID-19 vaccination as a precursor to a return to pre-pandemic, on-site operations, the potential resistance to a vaccine presents significant challenges.

While only time (and data) will tell the safety and effectiveness of any potential COVID-19 vaccine, employers should be assessing whether they should mandate a COVID-19 vaccine (with exemptions for religion and disability) as part of a larger COVID-19 mitigation strategy.

Assuming that employers can get access to the vaccine, they have several options.

  • Follow the typical influenza vaccination approach of many non-healthcare employers, i.e., offer the vaccine to employees free of charge on a strictly voluntary basis. In a Pandemic Preparedness guidance document issued by the EEOC in 2009 during the H1N1 virus (and updated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of this year), this is the approach suggested: “Generally, ADA-covered employers should consider simply encouraging employees to get the influenza vaccine rather than requiring them to take it.”
  • Create a “hybrid” approach, that is, mandate the vaccine for certain employees (for example, those who cannot work remotely or cannot fully socially distance in the workplace).
  • Mandate the vaccine for all employees who do not qualify for an exemption due to religion or disability.

Assuming that a safe and effective vaccine will become available in the next few months, now is the time for employers to weigh the various options and decide which approach they would follow.

The Foundation of a Program

If employers mandate the vaccine for any category of employee, they need to create an exemption process for religion and disability. Since at this point, we do not know the components of any future FDA-approved vaccine or potential medical contraindications, the disability exemption protocol will need to take place after approval.

Employers can, however, develop their religious exemption process now and evaluate all requests in advance of FDA approval. That way, if the vaccine becomes available, employers will be poised to immunize their workforce following the disability exemption process.

Employers looking to put in place a COVID-19 vaccine program need look no further than to the case law and guidance developed in the influenza vaccination context to guide their path.

The Legal Framework

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination because of religion, among other protected categories, and requires employers to reasonably accommodate religious observance and practice, absent undue hardship. Under Supreme Court precedent, employers can establish “undue hardship” under Title VII if they can demonstrate that the accommodation would require “more than a de minimis cost.”

The Third Circuit’s seminal decision in Fallon v. Mercy Catholic Medical Center provides employers with a road map to implement a COVID-19 vaccination program.

The hospital at issue in Fallon mandated the influenza vaccination absent a religious or medical exemption. As part of the exemption process, Fallon was asked to explain his views so that the hospital could assess whether his refusal to receive the influenza vaccination was “because of … religion” and therefore protected under Title VII (and state law). In support of his exemption request, Fallon submitted a detailed essay describing his views. After reviewing his essay, the hospital concluded that Fallon’s views were not religious, and he was terminated because he refused to receive the influenza vaccination.

To evaluate Fallon’s claim, the Third Circuit set out a three-part test defining religion and ultimately ruled that Fallon failed on all three fronts: His beliefs did not address fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters and were not comprehensive in nature. The Third Circuit also held that Fallon’s views were not manifested in formal services and rituals associated with traditional religions.

While the Third Circuit reasoned that “certain anti-vaccination beliefs are not religious,” it recognized that anti-vaccination beliefs can be protected if they are part of “a broader religious faith” and offered Christian Scientists as an example. In its opinion, the Third Circuit also made clear that employers cannot require a letter from a member of the clergy in order to consider an employee’s request for religious exemption. In addition, the Third Circuit affirmed that, consistent with Supreme Court precedent and EEOC guidance, non-theistic beliefs can satisfy Title VII’s requirements.

The EEOC also has offered guidance both generally and in the influenza vaccination context that employers should be aware of as they enact COVID-19 vaccination programs. The EEOC’s Compliance Manual states that “the Commission will define religious practices to include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.” However, in a 2012 Informal Discussion Letter regarding the influenza vaccination, the EEOC indicated that, “[i]t is unlikely that ‘religious’ beliefs would be held to incorporate secular philosophical opposition to vaccination.”

In its Compliance Manual, the EEOC also has taken the position that an employee can have a valid exemption even though “no religious group espouses” the beliefs of the employee and even if the religious group to which the employee belongs does not accept that belief.

Applying the Framework

Armed with the Third Circuit’s three-part test and EEOC guidance, employers should evaluate the religious exemption requests of employees. If an employer finds that an employee’s exemption request was because of his or her religion, employers then need to consider potential reasonable accommodations. Employers should be guided by science and data in evaluating these requests while also keeping in mind the particular workplace and the role and work environment of the specific employee.

Park Avenue Co-op Board Prevails in Battle of the Books

Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on November 5, 2020 For Habitat Magazine

Lenox HillManhattan

Nov. 5, 2020

The seesaw battle for access to co-ops’ and condos’ books rages on. In the latest skirmish – a major victory for co-op boards – Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Nancy M. Bannon has ruled that a disgruntled shareholder’s request for access to corporate books and records was “overly broad” and was supported “only by speculation” of mismanagement by the white glove Park Avenue co-op’s board of directors.

In the lawsuit, Cayne v. 501 Park Ave. Corp., shareholder James Cayne, the former chief executive at Bear Stearns, claimed that the co-op board’s president had “personal animus” that led to the rejection of several prospective purchasers of Cayne’s 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom apartment between 2016 and 2019, and the denial of the ability to sublet the apartment while it was on the market. (The alleged animus dated back to 1999, when a dispute arose over Cayne’s desire to buy a maid’s room.)

Under Section 624 of the Business Corporation Law (BCL), co-op shareholders have the right to inspect board meeting minutes, a roster of shareholders, and financial statements. In July 2019, as a way of investigating “potential wrongdoing, mismanagement and breaches of fiduciary duty” by the board members, Cayne demanded to inspect eight categories of documents, only two of which fell within the scope of inspection authorized by the BCL – the shareholder roster and meeting minutes. The remaining categories included “all books and records” pertaining to the board’s consideration and rejection of the prospective purchasers of Cayne’s apartment; the board’s consideration, approval, or rejection of prospective purchasers of all other apartments in the building; the rental of any apartment in the building; the market value of the co-op corporation and each of its units; the recusal of any board member from any board deliberations; and any proposed or adopted modifications to the proprietary lease.

In her opinion, Justice Bannon wrote: “The fact that a cooperative board has denied a shareholder permission to sell their shares does not alone justify a shareholder’s attempt to litigate around the sound exercise of the board’s judgment. Consistent with the foregoing, the [co-op’s] governing documents, by which all shareholders are bound, expressly reserve the board’s ‘right to grant or withhold consent, for any or no reason, absent unlawful discrimination’ any purchase application. . . . As such, the petitioner has not established a proper purpose to support his petition to access the respondent’s books and records.”

Not all co-op and condo boards fare so well in the battle of the books. In 2011, Linda Pomerance brought a lawsuit against her condo board at 310 W. 52nd St., seeking extensive access to board documents. The appellate court reiterated that, under existing law, condo unit-owners have the right to see financial reports, invoices, minutes of board meetings and redacted legal invoices “so long as [it is] in good faith and for a valid purpose … at the managing agent’s office, during convenient weekday hours.” The court went a step further and granted Pomerance the right to see a roster of unit-owners and make electronic copies of the documents – while granting the board the right to demand that she sign a nondisclosure agreement.

In a similar case, Armand Musey, a shareholder in the co-op at 425 E. 86th St., sued for access to board documents after a dispute erupted over the rooftop terrace outside Musey’s apartment. The court ruled that co-op shareholders also are allowed to copy documents, which they could not do before, and that boards can require a confidentiality agreement. After the Musey ruling, attorney Jesse Schwartz of Kagan Lubic Lepper Finkelstein & Gold told Habitat: “I think the courts have been going in this direction for a while, allowing broader inspections, consistent with common law.”

And then came Justice Bannon’s decision in the Park Avenue case, which sent the seesaw battle of the books in the opposite direction. As Bannon wrote: “Even under the liberal discovery standard, a shareholder may not engage in ‘an intrusive probe into the confidential financial records’ of other shareholders, let alone attempt to delve into a prospective purchaser’s finances well beyond the contemplated scope of the BCL.”

Are You Looking For Online Education Opportunities While Many Of Us Remain At Home?

CAMICB recognizes that during the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person education opportunities have halted with the worldwide shift to social distancing. To assist in this transition, CAMICB offers a number of online continuing education opportunities.

We have a helpful list of On-Demand webinars available here for managers to view that are free or low-cost, and CAI Headquarters has an entire library dedicated to webinars available for continuing education credit available here. All of CAMICB’s continuing education opportunities can be found here

CAMICB also offers the option for managers to seek out online opportunities that work best for them, and unapproved online options can be e-mailed to info@camicb.org for approval consideration.

For any questions, please reach out to CAMICB at info@camicb.org

3 Ways to Create a Virtual Watercooler for Your Remote Team

Posted on October 29, 2020 by Karin Hurt David Dye 

One of the most frequent concerns we hear from leaders and teams (where remote-work is the foreseeable norm) is the lack of a virtual watercooler. That metaphorical place where people exchange ideas, build connections, and spontaneous innovation thrives.

The informal exchange of ideas is critical for innovation and building relationships.

Fortunately, you can create spaces and interactions that simulate or improve upon the accidental connections that happen when you’re in the same building.

But it does require different ways of thinking and interacting.

As you’re thinking about how to re-create these interactions, it may be helpful to reflect on why watercoolers have become shorthand for these dynamics. The prosaic watercooler wasn’t designed as a place for team members to build relationships and share ideas.

But it works. Well.

Why? One reason is that it feels easy … no pressure … just chatting.

It’s the same reason people tell us the best conversations that happen at conferences happen during the coffee breaks.

So, how can you bring people together to cultivate spontaneous connections and new ideas?

3 Ways to Create that Virtual Watercooler

1. Create a standing “watercooler room.”

One of the most straightforward ways to re-create that gathering space is to build an online version. A Zoom or Teams video meeting that stays open, where people can drop in to say hi, take breaks, and talk about whatever they want.

To get people used to its availability, it may help to have a natural reason people would want to stop by. Perhaps a different daily resource, fun prompt, or shared activity or whiteboard.

Standing “break room” Slack or Teams channels can also play this role. We’ve seen organizations create dedicated spaces for work-related free-form discussions as well as personal topics like exchanging recipes, following sports, and many more.

2. Use quick parallel conversations

We’ve been inspired by teams around the world who come together quickly to solve problems, get creative, riff on ideas, and chart strategic action–in minutes, not days.

The secret to this rapid creativity and strategic problem-solving?

Breakout rooms.

There are so many ways to use the power of breakout rooms for fast parallel thinking.

You can seed the conversation with one meaningful, specific “How can we?” question and have each room address it – or give each room a different question or aspect of the challenge ahead. Or hold a quick standup meeting where people address one current challenge, then design a rapid-breakout session to address solutions for the three most common issues.

Create groups of 4-6 people, create a time limit that feels slightly too short, and get out of the way to let people engage with one another. The secret is to make these conversations relevant and fast. The best result is if one group says, “let’s keep talking” and then does.

3. Get personal with meaningful prompts.

It is possible to build and nurture human relationships remotely. We know because we’ve done it with clients and friends around the world. Whether you’re starting a business meeting with human connection or facilitating a virtual social hour, how can you be intentional and increase everyone’s understanding of one another?

The key is to use meaningful prompts. You might introduce the process with easier topics like hobbies, but over time, move to more meaningful conversations.

One of our favorites is “What are you most proud of?”–either in life, work, or any other aspect of life. This gives everyone quick insight into a person in a way that’s safe and not too vulnerable.

We’ve also worked with teams who have used questions like “What has been your source of strength or inspiration over the past months?” “Can you show us a picture or object associated with your source of strength and inspiration?”

Your Turn

It takes intentional effort to rebuild these informal exchanges, but the rewards are worth it. Your virtual watercooler will help to build connected teams and facilitate better ideas.

We’d love to hear from you. What are the most effective ways you’ve seen remote teams rebuild informal gatherings?

6 questions to ask to find out if you’re an ethical leader

The director of Ethical Imperatives contends that ethical leaders possess six traits that command, not demand, loyalty.

10-27-2020 Leadership Now

BY YONASON GOLDSO

Unlike the purely ceremonial royals of today, kings of old were absolute sovereigns. They answered to no one. Their word was law. And they held unchecked power over life and death in their hands.

If so, what distinguishes kings from despots? Only this: the way they appear in the eyes of their people.

A despot is merely a tyrant, whose decrees and edicts may be irrational and capricious, without regard for individual rights or the common good. Subjects serve a despot out of fear alone, secretly wishing and waiting for their demise.

In contrast, kings—despite the absolute power they hold—can be benevolent dictators, ruling with enlightened wisdom, guiding their kingdom with a balance of justice and compassion. Kings may not need their subjects’ approval, but a vote among the governed would nevertheless return such a ruler to power by near-unanimous consent.

In the workplace, bosses and managers may hold absolute power. But how they wield that power will determine the loyalty and, by natural consequence, the productivity of their employees.

If you want to be respected as a king and not reviled as a despot, you need to command, not demand, loyalty. And the way your employees see you will depend on whether you conduct yourself according to the principles of ethics.

In these complicated times, acting ethically is not as simple as it once was. Social norms change seemingly every day. Often, even the right choice produces collateral damage to real or perceived inequity.

What is a leader to do?

Loyalty is not acquired by merely making ethical decisions. More fundamentally, it comes from being recognized as an ethical person. The qualities that describe an ethical leader can be enumerated using a convenient acronym: E.T.H.I.C.S. An ethical leader asks the following questions to determine if they exhibit these qualities.

EMPATHY: WHAT IMPACT WILL MY WORDS AND ACTIONS HAVE ON THOSE AROUND ME?

The first step toward acting ethically is to see actions and situations through the eyes of others. As an ethical leader, you need to discern the individual circumstances and challenges of your people, feel their joy and pain, recognize their hopes and fears, be sensitive to their wants and dreams. Empathy requires knowing others. With that knowledge, you can anticipate how your decisions will affect them and ensuring that they feel understood, valued, and appreciated.

TRUSTWORTHINESS: DO I TRUST OTHERS, AND HAVE I EARNED THEIR TRUST?

Only by demonstrating integrity in every aspect of your personal conduct will you earn the trust of those around you. What’s more, you need to show trust by allowing your people to do their jobs without micromanaging them, to shoulder responsibility, and to occasionally make mistakes. Only with trust will relationships flourish. Only with trustworthy leadership will any community thrive.

HUMILITY: AM I INTERESTED IN WHAT BENEFITS MY COMMUNITY OR IN WHAT BENEFITS MY PRESTIGE AND MY EGO?

Leadership is a gift and a privilege, one that carries with it a responsibility to your followers. The best leaders, recognizing that they are not infallible, encourage constructive disagreement. This produces deeper insight, greater clarity, and a culture of partnership. Admitting when you’re wrong, or when you don’t know, builds your credibility for the future when you assert that you are right.

INQUISITIVENESS: DO I WANT TO KNOW AS MUCH AS I CAN, OR DO I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I KNOW IT ALL?

Never indulge the illusion that you know enough, that you understand enough, that you are wise enough. Seeking knowledge and insight requires a mindset of curiosity and constant improvement. Promoting intellectual diversity is the key to understanding. Displaying intellectual arrogance is a certain formula for disaster.

COURAGE: AM I MORE AFRAID OF LOOKING WRONG OR OF BEING WRONG?

It’s hard to ask for help. It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong. It’s hard to do the right thing when there will be hell to pay for doing so. Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s doing battle with fear. When you calculate the potential cost of taking what appears to be the safer course, you will often find that doing what’s right is not just the better choice, it’s the only choice.

SELF-DISCIPLINE: WHAT DO I NEED TO IMPROVE TODAY SO I CAN DO MY JOB BETTER TOMORROW?

How much time, effort, and energy do you put into your work? How much have you put into yourself? Building your character is foundational to building your business. Nothing worthwhile comes without a determined effort. Only by setting rigorous standards of personal conduct for yourself can you expect those around you to set the bar higher for themselves.

As an ethical leader, you see your choices through a different lens and recognize that the culture you create will determine your bottom line. Most of all, you naturally command the loyalty that inspires others to join you in your purpose, to share your passion, and to commit themselves to your vision. By promoting a culture of success all around you, the rewards of that success will inevitably follow.

Are you an ethical leader?

Yonason Goldson is director of Ethical Imperatives, LLC. His most recent book is, “Grappling with the Gray: An ethical handbook for personal success and business prosperity.”


Different Tools for Enforcing the Rules in Co-ops and Condos

William D. McCracken in COVID-19 on October 20, 2020 For Habitat Magazine

We have all seen clips on social media and news outlets of people ostentatiously refusing to wear a mask in public spaces, including the South Lawn at the White House. What happens when one of these so-called “anti-maskers” lives in your co-op or condominium? Although the vast majority of co-op and condo residents have dutifully complied with COVID-19 safety requirements, some residents adamantly refuse to follow the rules. These situations can be a tough test of a building’s culture and governing documents – and a board’s fortitude.

When the coronavirus ravaged New York City back in March, co-op and condo boards instituted new house rules to comply with the flurry of executive orders and other public health guidance being issued on a near-daily basis. These rules included not just mask requirements, but also restrictions on visitors and use of building amenities, among many other things. These protocols were (and are) essential to protecting a building’s residents and staff, and board members understandably want to come down hard on anyone who refuses to abide by those rules. This can be more difficult than it might seem.

First, if they’re going to be effective, COVID-19 house rules need to have been validly enacted. Generally speaking, house rules can be instituted by a majority of board members. However, if a house rule is inconsistent with an express provision in one of the building’s governing documents, it may not be enforceable. The analysis can be complicated when a building’s governing documents give residents the right to use common space – for example, a gym – but the COVID-19 house rules, in compliance with current law, restrict that right by keeping the gym closed.

When a shareholder or unit-owner (or a subletter) violates a house rule, the most common enforcement mechanism is a monetary fine. But there are pitfalls for the unwary: it is not unusual for boards to belatedly learn that their governing documents do not give them the authority to levy fines. Even if the authority is there, boards have to be careful that such fines would not look unreasonably excessive in the eyes of a judge.

Of course, if residents are willing to put their own health and the safety of others at risk by refusing to do simple things like wearing a mask or observing social distancing, levying fines may not be enough. If a resident refuses to pay, boards can pursue action against them in court, although that can be time-consuming and expensive. Boards may wish to consider imposing other, more immediate, consequences for failure to follow the rules. For example: restricting the use of amenities.

The availability of remedies may depend on whether a building is a co-op or a condo. In co-ops, boards have the power to terminate a shareholder’s proprietary lease for objectionable conduct. Even the most ardent “anti-maskers” might think twice about defying COVID-19 house rules if it could result in the loss of their homes.

Condo boards cannot evict unit-owners, but they do have the power to seek an injunction against violations of building rules. The Condominium Act also expressly authorizes boards to require a “sufficient surety” to ensure future compliance if a unit-owner has engaged in “flagrant or repeated” violations of building rules. Although this provision of the Condominium Act has rarely been invoked, condo boards should be prepared to use every tool at their disposal to ensure compliance with COVID-19 house rules. As difficult as these individual cases may be, boards must act to protect the well-being of all of their residents and staff. It could be a matter of life or death.

William D. McCracken is a partner at the law firm Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer.