How To Say Thank You To Your People

Gratitude doesn’t have to be complex to be powerful. Dr. Bob Nelson, author of 1,501 Ways to Reward Employees, offers seven simple tips.

By Bob Nelson for Chief Executive Magazine

1. It isn’t about money. “Money is compensation,” says Nelson. “Compensation is a right, recognition is a gift. Part of why recognition means so much is you don’t have to do it.”

2. Timing is everything. Nelson urges leaders to lose no opportunity to praise swiftly, sincerely and proactively. “You can do a great praising in 10 seconds in the hallway. The sooner you can catch people doing something right, the more you reinforce it, the more likely they’ll be repeated. So, if you see something, say something.”

3. Be sincere. “It has to come from the heart to be sincere, which sometimes is a difficult thing to teach someone. Some of the sincerity comes from specifics. Use specifics. Tell them what you heard, what you saw, what came to your attention. That gives it more credibility.”

4. Make it personal. “Which of course is tough because you can’t be everywhere all the time. But when you can add the personal touch, when you can do it face-to-face or with a direct phone call, that’s going to have more power.”

5. Praise, then stop. “A lot of executives…they’ll say something nice and then, they’ll take it away with what was wrong with the project, that there were typos or whatever it might be. My advice is to just stow that for now. Keep it 100 percent positive. Managers and leaders do this so infrequently—so don’t mess it up when you do it, keep it pure.“

6. Make it a habit. “I like to think of ways you can work it into your daily pattern, for instance, at a staff meeting Monday morning, that type of thing. You can use that initial start time to call out recognition of good things individually for the team, for the company. That’s very powerful.”

7. Be proactive. “You’ve got to actually look for opportunities to acknowledge and be grateful for people. If you’re just reactive, you end up being reactive around the mistakes. If you’re an executive, it has more punch, more power. Often it’s more symbolic, and it sends a message to other people that this is something we all need to do.”

Better Ways To Communicate Tough Decisions

By Barry O’Reilly

Communicating unpopular but critical decisions is challenging for new and experienced business leaders alike.

From financial cuts and project delays to salary freezes or increased workloads, communicating tough decisions is a challenge that all leaders face throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

It’s a hard skill to master, and an important lesson to learn. Yet if you crack the code of better ways to communicate tough decisions, it becomes a force multiplier and competitive advantage for companies dealing with the daily challenges of leading a business in our busy world.

What Makes Tough Decisions Hard To Communicate?

We all have been in companies where tough decisions were made yet communicated poorly.

Sadly I’ve spent too many times wondering where a product pivot, strategy shift, even change of direction came from? I’d sit there in my seat, scratching my head wondering “What the hell?” Blindsided wondering where the boss got such an idea from.

Other times I’ve been on the other side. Delivering bad news, telling a team they’re getting shut down. We’re refocusing our people and resources elsewhere, and all a team’s hard work has come to nothing. It sucks.

Yet what I have learned is there is a way to communicate tough decisions in a better way—and getting it right can have a positive lasting effect even if it initially involves pain.

Bringing people into your world, showing your work, and how you got to your conclusions matters.

By providing clarity on what call needed to be made and why, context for others to know how you got there and the choices considered makes all the difference.

Yes, we live in a world where situations are ever evolving and change quickly. The volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) of our business environment is only accelerating.

Similarly the timing of when to share, and what to share is an art in itself.

Yet too many people in the business industry, from senior executives to middle managers, and front-line workers freeze in the face of figuring out how to tell their teams a tough decision. When we should be acting, we’re hesitating. Hence hard to communicate calls get put off, endlessly reviewed, and key decisions postponed—we need to overcome this.

There are steps you can take to help you arrive at and communicate tough decisions that surpass the limitations set by VUCA, or more importantly, ourselves.

3 Characteristics of Tough Decisions

Tough decisions are hard to make, never mind communicate, because they are complex in nature.

With a lot of moving parts, perspectives to consider and people to be heard sometimes piecing everything together and knowing how each dot connects can take all your energy in itself.

Thankfully, communicating decisions can be less tough when you know the right technique to use, like these 3C’s for tough decisions.

As a leader, having these considerations in mind will land your message, even in difficult situations—I know personally from taking this approach numerous times.

Clarity

Clear, crisp, concise communication is a skill all leaders must develop—especially as the bearer of bad news.

Yet clarity in this instance is not how you talk. Clarity is what decision needs to be made, and why it matters.

When people are clear of the direction, goal or objective of a business it sets the scene for how decisions are made, the purpose and focus up for debate.

If the goal of our business is to grow the company by 25% this year, clearly defining what decision needs to be made and why it matters aligns people’s thinking and focus. —Tweet this

We could launch a new product line, or we can double down in a new market we’re seeing early signs of traction in.

Being told a decision with no aim or clarity regarding the goal causes chaos.
Lack of clarity gives birth to misunderstanding and conflict, with many of your team members assuming wrong things, which could have been avoided by simply stating the decision that needs to be made.

“We’re here today to decide how to grow the business.” Simple, clear and concise—be it.

Context

When we have clarity on what decisions must be made, the next step is to add context.

Misunderstanding often arises when people don’t know how the decision is made—most commonly because information is missing.

Context is painting a picture for people. What information matters? Where did you source it? How did you tie your data points together?

For senior leaders, it often involves giving team members a wider view of where the business, industry or company is going beyond their current scope or focus.

For team members, it is often about providing real time insights from interactions with customers, partners and situations at the front-line of the business.

It’s the decision maker’s job to create context and set it for others when they communicate.

If you lack the skills to communicate the context to your team members, they will see you as an impersonal leader with no empathy toward the people affected by the decision. But with context, it will ground them in knowing that a particular cause has resulted in the tough decision.

I always remember the CEO of one of the startups I work with explaining how he learned the tough skill of letting people go. He shared his system for showing people the perspective he had as the main leader of the business. How sales were looking, challenges ahead, trade offs and opportunities to enrich the receivers view of the world.

Such rich context of what a CEO must look at, consider and choose, allowed people to follow the flow of his thinking, and conclusions—to the point that many stopped him often before he would finish and say, “I get it. It’s a tough situation but I understand”.

Context is what gives meaning and clarity to the tough decision being made. You must understand that everyone in the company operates and understands the decision based on their contexts. So the challenge is how you can communicate the context of the decision to their already existing contexts.

Choice

As a team leader, your responsibility is to make choices, whether simple, celebratory, or tough.
Sometimes, your choices as a team leader will be questioned. In such circumstances, how will you react? How can you show people your decisions were the best choice in that moment with the information to hand—and not affected by your personal biases or poor rigor?

It is essential to understand that you should not treat choices as binary decisions—the job is to generate numerous viable options to critique.

Creating optionality even when it feels like the walls are closing in matters to gain buy-in and acceptance that you considered the decision deeply—and didn’t make a snap call off hand without considering the consequences, pros and cons of different possibilities or paths through the maze.

If the rule of 3 ever mattered it’s in moments like these, and using better ways to communicate tough decisions.

Most of the time, choices are made, but people forget to share all the options that were taken into account. Thus, the smart move is to always share the options you considered—three at a minimum—to demonstrate the rigor built into how you came to the conclusion.

Share the options and choice with the people involved, so they will understand how you have arrived at that decision without letting them guess or assume how you go there. It’s a coaching moment for leaders to showcase how your decisions are made—and what you expect of others when they face their own difficult moments.

The True Pressure Test of Your Decision

Providing clarity on the decision to be made, what it is and why it matters sets the scene for better ways to communicate tough decisions.

Adding context brings life and insight to the information you sourced and mattered for making tough decisions in your role as a leader or contributor to a team.

Showing your work, the choice you made based on all the options you considered helps people see the thought process and rigor you committed to the process of making that tough call.

And the best way to test if your tough message landed, if you hit all the points of clarity, context and choices is to end with the questions.

Can you see how I got here? Does my conclusion make sense?

See what reaction you get. My bet is you won’t just be surprised. You’ll be more confident to make tough decisions more frequently—because communicating them won’t be harder, you’ll be better at it.

Co-op Boards Can Claim Fraud When a Buyer Lies

Andrew P. Brucker in Legal/Financial on November 10, 2022 For Habitat Magazine

In 2014, Gene Vilensky submitted an application to purchase an apartment at Trump Village Section 4, a large cooperative in Brooklyn. Although Vilensky signed an agreement that he “would not permit persons other than those permitted by the proprietary lease to live in the apartment,” he began to list the apartment on Airbnb.

The board sued Vilensky. It asserted fraud, alleging that he never intended to reside in the apartment and had bought it with the intention of using it for “commercial purposes.” The board sought cancellation of the stock certificate and occupancy agreement, as well as legal fees and a permanent injunction stopping Vilensky from leasing the apartment. 

Vilensky disagreed, of course, and moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that it was vague, devoid of facts, and failed to specify what was false or fraudulent. He then counterclaimed that he was physically prevented from entering the apartment, suffered emotional distress, and that the warranty of habitability was breached.

Motion denied, appeal filed. The court held that Vilensky’s motion to dismiss the fraud claim must be denied, since Trump Village 4’s complaint sufficiently alleged that his application fraudulently represented that he would be living in the apartment. The court further upheld a fraud claim because the false representation on the application led the board to waive its option to purchase the apartment. The court also dismissed all of Vilensky’s counterclaims, and he appealed the court’s decision that he had committed fraud.

The appeals court held that allegations that a party entered into an agreement while lacking the intent to perform it are insufficient to support a claim of fraudulent inducement. However, the board alleged a misrepresentation of facts that served as an inducement for the board to approve the sale and waive its option to purchase the apartment. In that situation, the defrauded party may have a cause of action for fraud. The court therefore held that the trial court had properly permitted Trump Village 4’s first cause of action — fraud — to proceed.

The legal lesson. It’s instructive that the trial court and an appellate court allowed a cooperative to bring a fraud action in this case. It is not uncommon for an applicant to claim he will move in and instead install an adult child in the apartment, or to sublet the unit. In the past, boards have had little recourse. This case is virgin territory. It tells us that if a board can prove fraud, it may be able to collect major damages or even terminate the lease. Therefore, it’s imperative for co-op boards to follow such disputes to their legal conclusion.  

Andrew P. Brucker is a partner at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale. The statements and views in this article are his own and not necessarily those of the firm.

Research Roundup: How Technology Is Transforming Work

By Danny Dukach for Harvard Business Review

From AI recruiting tools to industrial automation and robotic assistants, new digital technologies are transforming the modern workplace. Many of these systems promise to improve efficiency, productivity, and well-being — but how are they actually affecting the people who interact with them every day?

It’s a complicated question with no cut-and-dry answers. But a growing body of research has begun to explore the nuanced ways in which technology is influencing the workplace and the workforce, shedding light on both its many benefits and substantial risks.

How Is AI Transforming Hiring?

One of the most significant areas in which technology has transformed the workplace is before new candidates even get in the door. AI tools can help recruiters sift through resumes, review cover letters, and even conduct virtual interviews. But these tools can also introduce new complexities and biases into the hiring process.

AI hiring tools can influence who applies: In one study, researchers asked more than 500 U.S.-based adults to imagine applying to a job through a system that used AI. They found that candidates who were already excited about the prospective employer and felt positively about AI in general were more likely to complete an application,. Candidates who were anxious or distrustful of AI, or who were less enthusiastic about the employer, were less likely to complete their applications if interaction with AI was required. This suggests that incorporating automated tools into the hiring process can affect different candidates’ experiences differently, influencing who ends up applying in potentially surprising ways.

Automated screening can perpetuate bias: While the potential for AI-based systems to perpetuate human biases is well-known, a new study found that even when explicitly gendered information (such as names or pronouns) is removed, today’s sophisticated machine learning models can still accurately determine a candidate’s gender. Furthermore, the study found that after controlling for job-relevant traits, when elements of a candidate’s resume did not line up with their gender — i.e., when a woman’s resume included traditionally masculine characteristics — they were less likely to get called back for an interview.

People are less offended by algorithmic than human discrimination: Given the prevalence of AI-driven bias, will companies feel pressure stop using these tools? At least one paper suggests they might not: Through a series of eight studies, researchers found that people tend to get a lot less mad when they learn that an algorithm discriminates than when a human makes the same discriminatory decision, meaning they’re less likely to blame an organization for discrimination if it’s perpetuated by an automated tool.

How Does Digital Monitoring Impact Employees?

Of course, the hiring process is hardly the last time that a new employee is likely to find themselves interacting with a digital system. The last several years have seen an explosion in employee monitoring tools, from keystroke tracking apps to wearable GSP monitors. And while proponents praise these tools’ potential to boost efficiency and transparency, recent research has painted a more nuanced picture.

Electronic monitoring can harm both workers and employers: A team of researchers conducted a meta-analysis of results from more than 50 different academic studies and found that being monitored electronically reduces employees’ job satisfaction and increases their stress levels. They also found that monitoring has no effect on performance, but that it does slightly increase the chances that an employee will engage in counterproductive behaviors, such as working less than expected, wasting resources, or mistreating coworkers and supervisors. This is in line with other recent research suggesting that monitoring workers makes them more likely to break rules, because it reduces their sense of responsibility for their own actions.

Being monitored may also boost engagement: That said, effective monitoring can also have a positive effect. A study that looked at data from more than 200 employees in higher education found that electronic performance monitoring could boost workers’ engagement. This is at least in part because digital tools are often perceived as more fair than traditional monitoring systems, leading workers to identify more strongly with their organizations and thus feel more invested and engaged in their work.

What Is It Like to Work Alongside a Robot?

Beyond simply being monitored by digital tools, employees are also increasingly likely to work with, take advice from, or even be managed by an automated system. On an individual level, research has identified a number of factors that can influence how people react to their new robotic colleagues.

People react better when automated systems feel authentic: When working with an automated tools such as chatbots or a recommendation engines, authenticity is key. Across a series of five studies, researchers found that people react much more positively when a tool is presented in an authentic manner, and in particular, when its human origins are highlighted. Conversely, anthropomorphizing autonomous technologies by giving them human-like qualities actually makes them seem less authentic, worsening people’s experience when interacting with them.

Another study found a similar effect in the context of algorithmic management: If workers are managed by an algorithm (such as the Uber algorithm, which automatically assigns work, gives performance feedback, and makes other supervisory decisions), they are more likely to react angrily to negative feedback if the robotic interface is anthropomorphized. This is because we subconsciously attribute more agency to human-like systems, and as a result, we’re more likely to feel they are “responsible” for giving us negative feedback.

People prefer to take advice from algorithms for certain kinds of decisions: Three other recent studies explored the contexts in which employees are more or less comfortable accepting advice from an automated tool. One paper found that for predictions or estimations, people prefer to take advice from algorithms than from humans — but when it comes to making decisions based on those predictions, people prefer to take advice from humans. Conversely, another series of experiments found that when it comes to delegating decisions over which people really want to retain control, they are often more willing to cede decision-making power to an AI than to a human.

In addition, research suggests that people want to understand why and how an AI makes its decisions. In a field study examining the use of AI diagnostic tools at a major hospital, medical professionals were less likely to incorporate input from an AI if it diverged from humans’ initial judgements without providing a clear reason. But when AI-generated diagnoses were accompanied by an explanation, doctors were much more likely to listen to them.

Workplace automation comes at a cost: Alongside the impact on individual workers’ experiences, rapid growth in automation has also had a substantial effect on macro-level social, political, and economic trends. An analysis of 14 years of U.S. census data cross-referenced with county-level growth in industrial robots found that automation of previously human jobs is associated with increases in drug overdose deaths, suicides, homicides, and cardiovascular mortality rates. Moreover, beyond direct health outcomes, workplace automation can foster negative sentiment in surprising ways. For example, data from more than 30,000 Americans and Europeans suggests that as people become more worried about automation threatening the security of their jobs, they tend to develop more anti-immigrant sentiment.

How Is Automation Changing the Composition of the U.S. Workforce?

While automation certainly has the potential to improve workers’ lives, this common fear — that automation poses a threat to job security — is far from baseless. Indeed, the data suggests that growing investment in AI and other automated technologies may have a substantial impact on the makeup of the workforce.

Automation boosts demand for educated workers and flattens org charts: On a firm-by-firm level, researchers have found that investment into AI tends to correlate with hiring more highly-educated workers. In addition, companies with more automation tend to have flatter organizations, with more junior workers and fewer mid-level and senior employees.

Automation reduces low-wage, non-service jobs: On an economy-wide level, an analysis of U.S. employment data found that increases in automation have led to a decrease in the availability of automatable, low-wage jobs. Interestingly, this shift has been accompanied by an increase in non-automatable low-wage jobs (i.e., service jobs in which humans cannot be replaced by robots). But this increase has not been sufficient to counteract the decrease in jobs that don’t have an interpersonal component. Moreover, the study found that job losses due to automation are largest among non-Asian people of color, shedding light on the complex interplay between racial equity, economic trends, and technological advances.

***

As with growth in any new technology, the recent explosion in digital workplace tools is neither all good nor all bad. Rather, optimism and enthusiasm for progress must be balanced with an acknowledgement of the very real — and not always positive — impact that these tools can have on the people who interact with them. As new research explores these varied effects, leaders must continuously check their assumptions, avoid oversimplification, and work to ensure that their decisions are driven not by knee-jerk reactions or gut feel alone, but by the latest data and evidence.

How to grow a reputation as a thought leader

By Becky Robinson for SmartBrief

As a leader, your biggest responsibility is to the people in your organization. As you serve your team, you may wonder about the possibility of sharing your expertise more widely with larger audiences to create greater reach for your ideas and a lasting contribution. You could write a book to capture your knowledge. Or, if you’d like to start on a simpler, but also influential path, you could become a thought leader by sharing your ideas online.  

When you purposefully choose to share content in online spaces to advance ideas around important topics, you become a thought leader. A thought leader, according to Peter Winick, is someone who has both thoughts and leadership, a point of view to share. Your act of sharing content is an act of leadership.

If the thought of creating content to grow thought leadership online is overwhelming, consider that you likely have a wealth of content to reshape and repurpose.  

Leaders of organizations of any size regularly communicate vision and values to their teams and may also share their subject matter expertise or business acumen with internal and external audiences in a variety of ways: in email messages, internal documents, one-on-one interactions, internal team meetings, meetings with customers, in training materials or through presentations at industry events. It’s also possible your company already creates content on your team’s core areas of expertise through a blog, podcast or video series. 

Here are five steps to follow to make the most of the content you already have (but may not recognize.) 

1. Identify the content you want to share

On which topics are you best positioned to share? Do you want to share about your company’s vision, values and approaches to establish thought leadership around organizational culture, leadership, team building or collaboration? Or do you want to share content on the topics related to your organization’s subject matter expertise? 

Throughout my journey, I’ve shared content online directly tied to my company’s areas of expertise in digital marketing and book marketing. I’ve also shared my journey as an entrepreneur and my ideas about leading a remote team and shaping our culture through shared values.

Identify and clarify your key topics, themes and areas of expertise, whether related to the way you work or the work you do. 

2. Figure out what content you already have and create a content catalog

A content catalog is a listing of all your existing content assets, organized to identify the theme of each one, its location or link and its format. I recommend using a spreadsheet to capture these assets. (I like Google Drive for its ease in sharing and updating in real time.)

  • Do you have slide decks from speeches or presentations?
  • Have you written articles or blog posts?
  • Have you published any articles?
  • Have you written any FAQs about your areas of expertise?
  • Have you sent any email answers to commonly asked questions?
  • Have you delivered any webinars?
  • Have you written any newsletters?
  • Have you created any videos? 

3. Create a content calendar

Once you complete your content catalog, organize it according to the key themes and topics you outlined previously. This will help to identify any gaps with your existing content and give you creative ideas about places you can create new content, when time allows.

Create a yearly content calendar to guide your thought leadership content creation. Include your key themes in the calendar so it can drive your content focus. Your audiences will not likely pick up on the themes, but the themes will provide structure, giving you or your marketing team a roadmap for supporting your content sharing. 

Where new content is needed, think about the everyday activities during your work when you are speaking or writing to others about your core areas of expertise. Be present in your day and think about the stories you tell again and again. What are the questions you always get asked? What are the frameworks you share? Are there any unique differentiators that cause people to come to you instead of someone else? Those are the clues to the content you should be creating.

If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over, record your answers and get a transcription. (Otter.ai automatically transcribes Zoom calls, and you can easily cut, paste and edit content from transcripts to use in other ways.) 

4. Flex to repurpose your content

Remember that content is flexible. Consider the various ways your audience may consume your content. If you have content in a written format, like a blog post, consider taking three minutes to talk about that content on a video to be shared to YouTube or on Instagram as a reel. If your audience prefers audio content, investigate turning your written content into a podcast series or audiogram

Any longer content can be made into shorter forms for sharing on social media, and any shorter form content can be bundled to create a longer form content asset.

5. Bundle it up!

As you continue to develop content, move toward creating content bundles on your core topics and themes. For example, take a question you get asked all the time, and then create a variety of different content types that can reach people in different ways over time. You don’t need to create these various content assets at once, and you would not share them all at once. But, they will give you a content pipeline for the future.

As you create content to share with external audiences, people in your organization will benefit in two ways. First, your team will benefit by learning from the content you’re creating. Additionally, as you grow your thought leadership, you’ll expand awareness of your organization and its expertise, increasing your company’s success. 

Becky Robinson is the founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in digital and integrated marketing services and public relations for authors, business leaders, coaches, trainers, speakers, and thought leaders. Becky’s first book, Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause (Berrett-Koehler Publishers), shares how to create the biggest possible audience for an idea, book, business, or cause.

You bought an EV and want to install a charger in your condo. Now what?

For some HOA and condo residents, installing EV chargers can be a months-long process, with barriers from board approval to costly infrastructure upgrades.

By Kristin Toussant for Fast Company

Joy had been living in her Los Angeles condo for eight years by the time she bought a Tesla Model 3 in 2018. Her parking spot wasn’t near any electricity meters, which meant that installing her own EV charger would have required electricians to trench the ground, and would have cost her about $12,000—before the price of the charging system.

That expense didn’t seem worth it, nor did moving just so she could have a home charger. Joy, who asked to go by her first name for anonymity, could get by by visiting Tesla Supercharger sites in her area. (California has the most Supercharger locations of any state, and has an extensive charging network in general.) But in 2020, a neighbor also purchased a Tesla and reached out to Joy about installing a community charger on the property, which meant getting the HOA (homeowners association) board’s approval.

Joy thought that was unlikely. Their complex is large—14 buildings and 530 units—and at that time, the number of households that owned EVs was in the single digits. But more neighbors had been expressing interest in electric vehicles, though they were worried about charger access. Ultimately, Joy ran for a spot on her HOA board, campaigning on a community EV charger project. She was elected in the spring of 2021 and that year got approval to install EV chargers (and even a $25,000 budget from the HOA).

But that didn’t make the process easy. What followed was a year and a half of snags and setbacks as she tried to navigate the power company’s approval, the red tape of California’s rebate application, the intricacies of her HOA (including where to even put the chargers), and the details of finding installers who fit the budget. More than a year after Joy got approval, the community chargers still aren’t installed.

Joy’s story is just one example of what can be a long and frustrating process to modernize HOA communities for electric vehicles. Whether it’s getting board approval and the bureaucracy that follows, or infrastructure challenges on properties that weren’t built with EVs in mind, those in condo communities, HOAs, and other multifamily properties face barriers to home charging, which experts say will be crucial to EV adoption. As EV sales boom, with 26.4 million electric vehicles expected on U.S. roads by 2030, these residents may spend months and even years dealing with contractors, power companies, and HOA meetings to push forward projects themselves.

OLD BUILDINGS WEREN’T DESIGNED FOR EVS

Those in single-family homes can, somewhat easily, install EV chargers in their garage or driveway. But for those in condos or townhouses, where parking spots may not be near outlets or meters—or in rental units where parking may be shared—home charging becomes much trickier. This is further complicated for properties with HOAs—self-governing organizations that dictate rules on everything from what sorts of lawn decorations are allowed to how many cars residents can have on their property to whether they can rent out their unit; board approval is often needed for exterior home upgrades or installations on community property.

A handful of states, including California, have “right to charge” laws, which give residents at multiunit buildings or planned communities the right to install a charging station for their own use. But those laws don’t require the community to cover the cost, which instead becomes the responsibility of the individual who wants a charger. And for older, existing communities, the specifics of a property—and its electrical infrastructure or parking layout—may be prohibitive to affordable upgrades.

“Because of the age of the property, it was not planned for EV charging installation,” Joy says of her 50-year-old condo community. “Ninety-nine percent of the residents here would not be able to install their chargers, even though there’s a law allowing it.” (Some new HOA communities are being developed with EV cars, and their charging systems, in mind—whether by requiring charging infrastructure at every unit or making spaces “EV ready” for residents to get their own systems.)

Roughly 29% of the U.S population lives in a community association, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. That includes an estimated 358,000 community associations, and 74.2 million residents. EV ownership isn’t that large yet, but it’s growing: nearly 1.5 million electric vehicles were registered across the U.S. in 2021.

Though a nationwide charging system will be crucial to supporting that influx, the ability to charge an EV at home is important to mass adoption, too. Right now, about 80% of EV charging happens at home, says Ben Prochazka, executive director of Electrification Coalition, a nonprofit working to advance electric transportation. The convenience of charging your EV while doing something else is one benefit of home charging; there’s also a need to fill in the gaps of a fractured charging network. While some states offer EV charging on about every 5 miles of highway, others are more spread out—Montana, for example, has about 359 miles between charging ports.

In older HOA communities, the task of installing EV chargers may not only be an issue of board buy-in, but of architectural logistics: Can the current electrical infrastructure handle the load of multiple charging cars? Do new meters or outlets need to be installed? Is there a communal area where charging ports can go, and is it ADA compliant? (In Joy’s case, requirements for ADA accommodations at the site her HOA picked created another delay in the process; trees would need to be removed and a new walkway installed before they could move forward; she chronicled the entire process, and its multiple setbacks, on her YouTube channel.)

EV CHARGERS AS AN ESSENTIAL UTILITY

Those questions are what can make adding EV chargers a challenge, even when residents and board members see the value in having them. “At this point, we’re seeing [EV charging stations] more as an essential utility,” says Kelly Dougherty, president of FirstService Energy, which advises multifamily buildings within the property management group FirstService Residential on energy-related projects. “It’s more about when is the right time for our associations to put in chargers.”

Within FirstService Residential are more than 8,600 associations, including HOAs, condo associations, and coops, and Dougherty says many are currently having conversations about EV chargers. Dougherty says the boards she’s talked to are open to installing chargers, but they often have questions. “They have a responsibility to all the owners in their building to do their research and make sure they’re doing it in the right way,” she says. “It’s definitely very different from a single-family-home situation where you can use an outlet from your own house. This affects other people.”

How a community installs chargers can look different depending on the type residents are looking for—which can vary by voltage, charging speed, cost, and installation—and if a property has public parking spaces or not. Community chargers can also be an income opportunity, which is how Joy first pitched her project to her fellow board members. The board could set its own rate on top of what the local power company charged for electricity, eventually breaking even, and even generating revenue.

“Where it gets a little bit more complicated is if they want to put infrastructure in place for every single deeded parking spot,” Dougherty says. “If they don’t have public spots, how would you make that decision of who gets the infrastructure and who pays for the actual unit? These are some of the questions that have to be asked at the board.”

Another is whether they’re looking for a short-term solution, like providing chargers just to the residents who currently have EVs, or if they want to plan for the long term, Dougherty says, “understanding that primarily everyone’s going to have EVs in the future, so does it make sense to put the infrastructure in place?”

In other words, there’s a lot of research to do to understand how a board wants to go forward with EV charging. And often, it’s the residents who already own EVs who have to do that work. “The person who’s pushing the project has to be the advocate for this,” Joy says. (As of mid-October, the power company had finally approved the installation designs, and the next step is to place the order for the chargers.) “I think if I weren’t on the board, I probably wouldn’t have pushed it,” she says of the project.

PLANNING FOR AN ELECTRIC FUTURE

That was true for Robert Cole, too, who rents from an owner in a condo complex in Nashville, where he has a deeded space in the community’s 50-car garage. Cole had to find contractors, pay for the installation, and educate his board on why this kind of upgrade was important, and what needed to happen to make it a reality.

“We’re in a building that’s going on 100 years old, and the electrical infrastructure in the garage is probably from the ‘40s or ‘50s, so that complicated things a little bit,” he says. Cole is a civil engineer who has worked in power plants, so he knew what upgrades might be needed, and had a “reasonable idea,” of what they might cost. But unlike Joy, who got HOA funding for her project, Cole had to finance his charger installation himself, together with a neighbor who was interested in buying an EV and split the cost, which came out to a little over $7,000 total. “The HOA [was] adamant that this needed to be zero cost to them,” he says.

Even though it came out of their own pockets, Cole and his neighbor still thought beyond their own individual needs; their installation allows for at least 32 charging spaces in the future. They wrote up a memorandum of understanding that covered how they would reimburse the HOA for the power their chargers used (the panel connects to a meter paid for by the condo association), and what to do if a future EV owner wants to tap into the panel they paid for (they would pay a fee to Cole and his neighbor for bearing the initial cost).

Just making the upgrades for one or two chargers would have been cheaper, “but it’s not going to be fair to people who come later and decide they want to put in electric charging,” Cole says. Because the garage has limited power capacity, they installed chargers that can do load sharing, which automatically adjust how much power a car uses if another EV plugs into the system.

That kind of forethought will be necessary in order to be ready for an EV future, Dougherty says—and planning for even more chargers could further benefit communities by attracting new residents. Though navigating the installation process can be complicated, there are also rebates and incentives that can help get these projects in place, she adds (and resources from advocacy groups like Plug In America and Electrification Coalition).

To Prochazka, of the Electrification Coalition, the important thing is that HOAs don’t limit access to chargers. “Our hope would be that HOAs understand that providing their homeowners or their apartment owners access to charging is something that should be just as important as providing access to sidewalks, access to playgrounds,” he says. “Transportation electrification . . . is no longer a question of if, it’s now a question of when.”

Looking to take your career to the next level? Here’s what you should know about the CMCA credential!

The field of community association management offers great potential for professionals who have experience in people-centric roles. If you’ve worked in the hospitality or service industry, this might be a career path to consider. And whether you’re new to the field or have been working as a community association manager for some time, it’s worth learning about how the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential can help you take your career to the next level. 

The Community Associations Institute (CAI) estimates that as of 2018, there are approximately 355,000 community associations in the United States housing over 74 million residents. That’s 11 million more residents than just a decade ago. In fact, one in four people in the U.S. lives in a community association. There are approximately 8,000 community association management companies and up to 60,000 off and on-site community association managers in the U.S. alone. As the number of people living in community associations increases, so too does the need for community association managers. 

Job prospects are excellent, especially for community association managers who hold a professional designation. It’s estimated that up to 26 percent of all ownership housing is in one of the three basic types of community associations. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for community association managers was just over $59,500. 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 key to building a successful career in community association management. It signifies to employers you’re 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 credential after your name often makes 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 limited investment of time and money on your part.
  • It takes a few days of prerequisite course work, some time for study, and one day for the exam.
  • Its relatively low cost is a great investment in your future.

Earning the CMCA credential opens the door to higher earnings—on average 20 percent more—than non-credentialed community association managers. It is also a great way to build your professional expertise and image.

The CMCA program is dual accredited. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits the CMCA program for meeting its U.S.-based standards for credentialing bodies. The ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) accredits the CMCA program for meeting the stringent requirements of ISO/IEC 17024 Standard, the international standards for certification bodies. The program’s dual accreditation represents compliance with rigorous standards for developing, delivering, and maintaining a professional credentialing program. It makes the CMCA credential one of a small number of dual-accredited credentialing bodies and the only accredited certification for community association management professionals around the world. It is a great source of pride and a strong testament to the strength and value of the CMCA credential.​

An Exciting Career Path with A lot of Potential

Life as a community association manager can vary day-to-day. Managers work closely with residents and Board members, make site visits to the community, hire and supervise vendors, interact with community leaders, and so much more. Not only do you earn a decent living, but you’re 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!

Becoming a Certified Manager of Community Associations is not merely a designation; it can lead to the career 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 potential in an exciting career that currently shows no sign of slowing down.

For further information, please visit camicb.org or email us with any questions at info@camicb.org.

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Condo Boards Have New Weapon to Correct Construction Defects

By Bill Morris in Legal/Financial For Habitat Magazine

Construction defects are nothing new to the buyers of New York City condominiums. What is new is that New York State recently revised its century-old rules on what’s known as fraudulent conveyance. The new Uniform Voidable Transactions Act, which went into effect on April 4, 2020, has just produced its first court ruling — and it’s good news for condo boards and unit-owners battling to recoup the cost of fixing construction defects.

In the recent decision, Justice Andrea Masley of the Commercial Division of New York State Supreme Court ruled that the sponsor of the condo conversion at 11 Beach St. in Tribeca must set aside $1.1 million — what’s known as a “pre-judgment attachment” — to satisfy any future awards to the condo board in an ongoing lawsuit over defects in the renovation work. The 11-story building was built in 1900 as offices, and the sponsor, HFZ Capital Group, began the condo conversion in 2014, with prices starting at $5.3 million.

“This decision was very good for us,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, a partner at the law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, which is representing the condo board in the ongoing litigation. “Our clients still have to show that they’re entitled to the money, but the purpose of the pre-judgment attachment is to preserve a share of the proceeds from the sale of apartment 3-B. If the sponsor had been allowed to get rid of that apartment, that would have resulted in us not having any money to pursue. That asset would have been gone.”

BOARD OPERATIONS

HOW CO-OP/CONDO BOARDS OPERATE — Simple Steps to Avoid Co-op/Condo Board Election Mistakes

Andrew P. Brucker in Board Operations for HABITAT magazine

When mistakes are made in co-op and condo board elections, the whole process can be tainted and litigation can result. That’s what happened in the case of Roberts v. WVH Housing Corp.

WVH, a New York City cooperative, has a seven-member board, and at the 2021 election four positions were open. Shareholders were able to vote in person, by proxy, by directed proxy or by online ballot. The entire process was administered by MK Elections, and a few hours after the meeting, this contractor emailed the official results to the candidates and all shareholders. 

The board president, Julia Rosner, reviewed the results and recognized something was wrong. Although she had tendered 65 undirected proxies from shareholders to MK Elections and had received ballots for voting, she realized she had inadvertently neglected to cast the ballots. 

The day after the election, Rosner handed MK the ballots she still had in her possession. When MK recalculated the results, three of the four announced winners had lost, and other candidates were elected. Initially, the board was inclined to accept the new results from MK, but there was resistance from a number of the directors. Looking to quell any controversy, the board decided that a new election should take place, and it sent out notices to that effect. However, two shareholders opposed this and took the matter to court, asking that the candidates originally announced as winners be allowed to take their seats, and a new election be prohibited.

The court found that the “the election should only be set aside where it is so clouded with doubt or tainted with questionable circumstances that the standards of fair dealing” require it to take action. The court held that no such doubt or taint had been established at the WVH election. A mistake in voting is not considered an impropriety.

This is consistent with the position of numerous New York courts, which have held that there can be no change once the polls are closed and the winners are announced. If a mistake is noted the next day, the announced results cannot be changed, and the court will not intercede. 

The reason these disputes happen is the rush to announce the results the evening of the annual meeting. This is asking for trouble. In many cases, if there was a simple comparison of the number of shareholders who signed in (either by proxy or in person) and the number of ballots, discrepancies might be discovered before it’s too late. Perhaps an adage should be created just for elections at cooperatives and condominiums: Check twice, announce once.

Andrew P. Brucker is a partner at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale. The statements and views in this article are his own and not necessarily those of the firm.


Workers see inflation as biggest obstacle to retirement savings goals: Schwab

According to a new survey from Schwab Retirement Plan Services, investors consider inflation the biggest obstacle to saving for a comfortable retirement

By Alan Goforth for BenefitsPro

Investors consider inflation the biggest obstacle to saving for a comfortable retirement, according to a new survey from Schwab Retirement Plan Services. Forty-five percent of respondents cited inflation, followed by monthly expenses (35%), stock market volatility (33%), and unexpected expenses (33%).

“Workers have been through a lot over the past two years, and it’s only natural that recent economic and geopolitical turbulence has continued to fuel financial concerns,” says Catherine Golladay, head of Schwab Workplace Financial Services. “While plan participants can’t control inflation or the markets, the good news is they are taking steps to manage their finances with an eye to the future.”

For more go to: https://www.benefitspro.com/2022/07/29/workers-see-inflation-as-biggest-obstacle-to-retirement-savings-goals-schwab-survey-finds/