Understanding the Important Distinction Between Community Association Managers and Property Managers

By John Ganoe, CAE, CAMICB Executive Director

A common mistake in state legislatures considering community association manager licensing – and among the general public – is to lump community association managers and property managers into the same bucket. While both are very important roles, they are distinctly different professions with functions, skill sets and responsibilities specific to each.

A community association manager can manage every type of community: condominium associations, homeowner associations, resort communities and commercial tenant associations.  A community association manager works directly with prcommunity-property-managementoperty owners and homeowners.

Property managers oversee individual rental units or a group of rental units, such as an apartment complex. They’re responsible for managing the entire property while community association managers are responsible for common areas – not individually owned properties.

“From a legislative standpoint, this incorrect categorization occurs because state legislators misunderstand the nature of community association management,” said Matthew Green, Director, State Affairs for the Community Associations Institute (CAI).  “They believe that community association management skills are identical to those of a property manager without recognizing the vastly different responsibilities of these two positions.”

This misunderstanding of the two professions often bleeds into more general conversations occurring in this space. Compounding this is the reality that there’s a slight overlap in a couple of the duties performed. For example, both property managers and community association managers supervise certain maintenance activities, such as swimming pool upkeep and trash removal. But it’s important to understand that community association managers oversee and direct all aspects of running the business operation. This means, they authorize payment for association services; develop budgets and present association financial reports to Board members; direct the enforcement of restrictive covenants; perform site inspections; solicit, evaluate and assist in insurance purchases; and, even supervise the design and delivery of association recreational programs.

Property managers are responsible for managing the actual property and therefore handle the physical assets of the unit at the owner’s request. Property managers generally oversee rental units and leases. Their responsibilities might include finding or evicting tenants, collecting rent and responding to tenant complaints or specific requests. If a property manager is responsible for a vacation or second home, he or she may arrange for services such as house sitting or local sub-contracting necessary to maintain that property.  Alternatively, an owner may opt to delegate specific tasks to a property manager and choose to handle other duties directly.

Stephanie Durner, CMCA, AMS, who is the Director of Community Management at River Landing, a private gated golf course community in Wallace, NC, views the distinction this way,

“While property managers are generally charged with overseeing physical structures that are used by people who are not the owners of the property, association managers represent the property owners themselves and are involved in just about every aspect of the overall community. For instance, if a garage door is broken at a rental house, the tenant would call a property manager or owner/landlord. But if there’s a pothole that needs repair or if a neighbor’s dog is running loose through the neighborhood, that’s a task for the community association manager who both maintains the common areas and upholds the governing rules. To me, community association management is a more holistic approach that contributes to the overall quality of life for all the owners in a community.”

Green emphasized, “While some job responsibilities are similar, community association managers have additional functions. It’s critical that community association management be recognized as distinct from property management, because association management requires a wider variety of knowledge and skills.”

“Because of this, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) offers and maintains the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential, the only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives,” added Sara Duginske, MS, CAMICB’s Director of Credentialing Services. “Earning the CMCA credential means an individual has taken and passed the rigorous CMCA examination, proving they have a solid understanding of the business operations involved in being a community association manager.”

For community association managers, the bottom line is they understand and are experienced and knowledgeable in the many facets of running a business operation, assuring they provide the best possible service to the associations for which they are responsible.

CAMICB was established in 1995 to develop and administer the CMCA program. CAMICB insists on high ethical standards for community association managers because it not only strengthens the CMCA program, but protects consumers and associations that hire community association managers.

7 types of words you need to stop capitalizing

Look, I don’t want to rain on NASA’s interplanetary parade. In 2014, NASA scientists did send the new Orion spacecraft 3,604 miles beyond Earth as they prep to one day put humans on Mars.
Remarkable achievement. Bravos all around. Yet even an historic flight into outer space doesn’t excuse writing errors.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. called the space mission “Day One of the Mars era.

Let’s examine Bolden’s words. He capitalized words that feel important to him (“Day One” and “Mars”). As for “era”? Meh, not as notable. Lowercase!

The corrected version: day one of the Mars era. The only proper noun in the phrase is “Mars.”


Capitalization matters. When you handle upper and lowercase words like a pro, it shows poise, smarts and maturity. Proper capitalization is one more way to distance yourself from the competition (just like a storytelling cover letter).

Here are seven types of words we need to stop capitalizing.

1. Job titles

Incorrect: I am a Marketing Coordinator at Acme Industries.

Correct: I am a marketing coordinator at Acme Industries.

Explanation: Job titles are lowercase unless they come before your name (ex: Marketing Coordinator Jane Doe is …).

More on job titles and capitalization.

2. College majors

Incorrect: In college, I Majored in Political Science and Minored in Religious Studies.

Correct: In college, I majored in political science and minored in religious studies.

Explanation: College majors and minors are lowercase. Uppercase comes into play if you describe the actual program/school (ex: I studied political science at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin).

3. Special occasions

Incorrect: Classic Facebook post — Thanks to everyone for the Birthday wishes!

Correct: Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes!

Explanation: Words like birthday, anniversary, reunion and gala are lowercase. If you describe an event with a proper name (Lizzy’s Surprise 30th Birthday Bash), then it’s uppercase. Also, Happy Birthday is capitalized if you write, “Happy Birthday, Zack!” It’s lowercase when you write, “I hope you have a happy birthday!”

Incorrect: Common phrase in a resume objective statement — Experienced Team Leader with strong Organizational Skills and a Successful career in Management.

Correct: Experienced team leader with strong organizational skills and a background in management.

Explanation: We don’t capitalize non-specific career words no matter how important they seem (“Successful”). If you attend the Acme Team Leader Training Seminar, then the words are uppercase because they’re part of a proper title.

To make your resume objective statement to be even more correct (and impressive), remove adjectives like “Successful” altogether. Read this post — I’ll explain.

5. Seasons

Incorrect: I began at Acme Industries in the Fall of 2012.

Correct: I began at Acme Industries in the fall of 2012.

Explanation: Seasons are lowercase unless part of a proper title (ex: Fall Fling Art Show).

6. Directions

Incorrect: After college, I headed West to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

Correct: After college, I headed west to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

Explanation: Directions are lowercase. If you write about a specific part of the country, then it’s uppercase (“I live on the East Coast.”)

7. Any other word that feels special but isn’t a proper noun

Your time at the political internship made a big impact on your career. Awesome. That doesn’t mean you had an Internship. Nope, still an internship. It’s not a proper noun.

However, if you write about your experience in The White House Internship Program, then “Internship” is capitalized.

See the difference?

Capitalization is a small detail, I know. But then again, the little stuff often makes the biggest difference.

Talking Tech: The ABCs of SOPs

(Michail_Petrov/iStock/Getty Images Plus) 

Whether you’re onboarding new staff or implementing a new tech project, a good set of standard operating procedures ensures continuity and efficiency.

Justin Burniske, director of enterprise solutions at fusionSpan, explains how to build a great process document.

Why should associations document standard operating procedures?

Standard operating procedures ensure that staff turnover doesn’t impact your association. SOPs give the new staff a reference point while they are being onboarded. SOPs are also important documents for new technology initiatives. When adding or replacing technology, organizations need to address two key questions: What are the critical business processes in place? And why are those processes in place? Good SOPs will ensure your organization can answer both questions.

What are some tips for creating SOPs?

Ideally, your organization should set aside time to conduct a thorough analysis to identify the most efficient processes. Then, your team should commit to those processes going forward. If time is limited, see if you can divide and conquer: Have each department develop their own SOPs and bring them back to the group. If it’s all on you, get in the habit of asking how something is done.

How often should SOPs be reviewed and updated?

SOPs should be a living document that gets tweaked daily as processes are changed and improved, but that’s a habit only a few associations keep. Alternatively, any time you bring new staff on board, have them conduct an SOP review as they start to work through your processes. SOPs give the new hire great insight into the organization, and the new employee is a fresh set of eyes more likely to identify when crucial steps are missing.

By   Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

The Art of Practical Automation

(NicoElNino/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

You may hear a lot these days about how automation kills jobs. But automation isn’t all bad—the right tech tools can help make you more efficient so you can get away from busywork and focus on the bigger picture.

Elon Musk is the kind of guy who probably has gotten further than most out of a desire for automation, and even he’s willing to admit that sometimes he takes things too far.

“Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake,” Musk wrote in a tweet to a Wall Street Journal reporter last week. “To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

Big thing of you to say, Elon! And certainly, there’s some truth to this point. But I do think that there’s a lot of room for automation to benefit those pesky humans you have on your staff.

As I noted last week in my recap of a new Conference Board study, automation is just one of many solutions that organizations are looking at to ease the growing talent crunch that faces their organizations.

Automation need not be something nefarious. It can simply be a matter of cutting down on busywork that gets in the way of broader strategic thinking.

While a lot of folks have images in their heads of robots stealing their jobs or algorithms replacing people, automation need not be something nefarious. It can simply be a matter of cutting down on busywork that gets in the way of broader strategic thinking.

How I Personally Use Automation

As a journalist, I often deal with a lot of things that are effectively busywork, such as resizing and cropping images.

For a while, I used a set of Photoshop keyboard shortcuts to help speed up what can be a repetitive process. But, at some point, I realized that most of the images I uploaded often used a basic frame size, and that, while there are times I needed to do more aggressive cropping or illustration, in many cases, a dead center crop often does the trick.

On top of this, Getty Images added a Dropbox integration, meaning I could set a specific folder for images to land.

So, I used these features to automate my upload process. Now, whenever an image hits a certain folder in Dropbox, the automation tool Zapier will push that image to Cloudconvert, a file-conversion service that it supports, to resize and scale the pictures as needed. After the picture is properly cropped, it then goes to WordPress, where I can choose the image. If I decide I want a different crop, I just grab the original file in Photoshop and adjust accordingly.

Likewise, I often find that there are certain types of text that I’m dealing with on a daily basis that have a very specific form—such as text with straight quotes instead of curly quotes, or repetitive phrases I have to keep typing in. On my Mac, automation often saves the day for me in these situations.

One tool I use is called Rocket Typist, which allows me to set a key command so that when I want to type in tomorrow’s date, I just write “tomo” and hit the tab key, and “April 18, 2018” shows up.

Apple’s own MacOS interface also has a feature called App Shortcuts that allows for some text replacement or modifications of this nature; I’ve set it up so when I run into A LINE OF TYPE IN ALL CAPS, I can use a key command to lowercase it or set it in Title Case.

But often the biggest pain in the neck I run into is when I have a lot of text and it’s not as clean as it should be—say, spacing is off, or it’s organized in an inefficient way. One tool I’ve found helpful for this is called TextSoap, which allows me to take a passage of text and clean it up so I’m not getting extra formatting I don’t want, or it’s in a format I can actually use. I use this tool, for example, to convert credit lines from Getty Images into cutlines for the pictures I upload.

Often, I combine TextSoap with a popular launcher tool called Alfred, which I’ve set up to offer me access to specific TextSoap commands when I need them. Together, these tools probably save me a lot of time that allows me to focus on writing and all the other crazy stuff I do with Associations Now.

Automation for Yourself

All these automations work great for me and my workflow, but your mileage may vary. In fact, you may find that it doesn’t work for your needs at all.

Maybe your flow looks like something else entirely—maybe you use IFTTT to schedule tweets, or you have a great Chrome extension that supercharges the way you use Gmail. Or maybe you find all these extra tools drive you nuts and you’re really into knowing every nook and cranny of a more common piece of software like Microsoft Excel. To each their own.

But I will say this much: No matter your role at your association—whether you’re the CEO, the CIO, the person in charge of membership or communications, or someone working your first gig in the nonprofit world—you likely have ways of speeding up and simplifying your processes. You should spend time analyzing your own work habits, finding ways to improve things, and when you’ve found something good, sharing it with your coworkers or peers.

It might not be easy to find what works, either—all of my little automations came out of a desire to minimize my busywork, the stuff that gets in the way of storytelling and research. Are there things in your daily routine that are like that? Find ways to whittle them down.

Automation shouldn’t be seen as the thing that’s going to lead us to our future robot CEOs. It could be the thing that makes you more effective at your work, so that you can focus on the bigger picture.

There’s no reason that automation can’t make humans better at what they do.

By for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

How a Board Chair Leads Best

 

(PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images Plus) 

A board chair wields a lot of power, but the role demands that power be shared.

The board chair may be the most peculiar leadership position in any organization. It’s arguably the most powerful role available, heading the group that sets direction and has firing power over the CEO. But the chair wields virtually no control over day-to-day operations and commands a group of people that is routinely replenished with new faces. And you can’t get too comfortable in the job, since you’ll eventually be termed out as well. You’re the boss. But you’re not.

“Leaders have to shift away from defining team norms and building trust.”

So it’s no surprise that board chairs themselves are often at sea about what their job is, and how to do it. A 2016 study by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management found that half of nonprofit board chairs had no leadership training, and that nearly 80 percent said they sometimes or often feel frustrated in their role.

The nature of the board-chair role will always make it something of a challenge. But that doesn’t mean the chair lacks real opportunities to lead. In Harvard Business Review’s “How to Be a Good Board Chair,” INSEAD business professor Stanislav Shekshnia, reports on the results of a study of a few hundred chairs, board members, and other stakeholders to better define success in the role. Much of the findings boil down to old-fashioned professionalism—poise, attentiveness, preparation, not filling the agenda with snoozy and irrelevant material, and so forth. But in one case Shekshnia identifies a novel and valuable way to approach the job.

The first step, Shekshnia argues, is to get out of the mindset that the board-chair job in any way resembles a traditional leadership role. “To be effective, chairs must recognize that they are not commanders but facilitators,” he writes. “Their role is to create the conditions under which the directors can have productive group discussions.”

However, that facilitation doesn’t involve trying to create a sense of community with a board the same way you might with a staff, he argues. Board members won’t be around for as long as the average staffer, and only see each other a few times a year. And the typical board member’s commitments to other jobs (and boards) is so broad that such gestures toward unity will likely be only moderately effective anyhow.

So instead, Shekshnia prescribes a task-oriented mentality, not a team-building one. That’s because boards aren’t traditional teams; they are gatherings of “experts in a temporary group to solve problems they may be encountering for the first and only time,” he writes. “To enable it, leaders have to shift away from defining team norms and building trust, and focus on quickly scoping, structuring, and sorting the collaborative work.”

For any volunteer leader who’s had it up to here with trust falls, hot-coal-walking, and other icebreaking/teambuilding shenanigans and just wants to get to work, a line like that is a cool breeze on a summer’s day. But it does make the board chair’s job more time consuming: The leaders quoted in the piece talk about the importance of one-on-one interaction with every board member, before meetings to make sure they’re up to speed on the issues, and during the meetings to make sure they’re engaged. One board chair said he makes a point to get a general gloss on where the board stands on an agenda item before the meeting, and will raise the issue himself if the board member won’t. This “often triggers a direct contribution,” Shekshnia writes.

Well, of course it does—nobody wants to be caught napping for fear the teacher will call on them. And the approach will test a chair’s people-person skills: Done wrong, it can come off as paternalistic. But done right, it can highlight one critical and peculiar element of the board chair’s job: Though you’re the person in charge, what you’re in charge of is making sure everybody feels like they’re in charge.

That distributed-leadership approach is one that Judy Freiwerth of Nonprofit Solutions Associates recommended in 2016 in light of that report on board disengagement. “The traditional ‘heroic’ model of leadership is for the board chair to hold all of the leadership responsibility as one individual,” she told me. “Research suggests that shared leadership produces higher quality governance decisions and should be considered by boards.”

If you’re not sure you’re distributing leadership well enough, Shekshnia offers a useful metric: A successful board chair, he suggests, takes up no more than 10 percent of the airtime during a board meeting. And in that, as in most things involving board chairs, there’s another irony: It’ll take a lot of time and a lot of conversations to make it look like you’re not the center of attention.

By for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

This Is How You Follow Up After You Send a Rude Email (Template Included!)

rude email

Leadership Lessons from Fear and Cancer

Dan Shorr, the founder of Vice Cream, spent his college summers driving an ice cream truck. After college, he followed a typical career path. He went to work at a large consumer products company and started to climb the ladder.

Then, it all changed. Newly married, a first-time homeowner, Shorr was told that he had cancer. He was given a grim diagnosis.

Thankfully, he won his battle and is healthy today. Cancer changed his outlook. No longer did he want to simply live life, he wanted to indulge in it.

His brand is the embodiment of the indulgence. Cancer has also shaped his leadership and helped him overcome his fears.

I left our conversation inspired and a bit hungry for some ice cream. I hope you have a similar experience in reading what he shares below.

Why are you doing this crazy thing?

“My first reaction is in our mission and our purpose. It’s not just a bumper sticker. Our mission is to bring smiles to the faces of consumers, specifically cancer patients and their families.”

“On a personal level, I always wanted to start my own thing and, without sounding too much like Tony Robbins, I believe in the power of fear. I think fear holds people back in life, whether it’s asking a girl or guy out or moving across country. Even with my experience in building the PowerBar brand and working at Pepsi, I was still scared to start my own thing.”

What got you over that fear?

“Two big events that kicked my ass. One was being around the finish line at the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. That was a very scary day and it made me re-evaluate what I wanted to do. Then I got diagnosed with cancer. I was told that I had 12 weeks to live. I beat it, I’m 100% fine, but both those things were enough of a kick in my ass to blow through that wall of fear.”

How do you deal with fear and doubt?

“I must say and it’s not [BS], that I interviewed somebody recently, and this candidate, this 27-year-old asked me about fear and failure, and what’s the chance of failure. I honestly have never thought about it. I have a very clear vision of our success, I have a very clear vision of where we’re going. This kid spooked me. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I’ve never thought about failure once. Now I’m like, ‘oh my God, I should never have met this kid,’ he totally got me out of my zone.”

What have you learned about leadership?

“Probably my favorite teaching — I saw Tony Robbins at a small MSNBC conference in L.A. a few weeks ago and he had a great phrase. I think it’s really cutting-edge. What he said, which I really believe in, is that we need to be leaders and not managers. If we must manage, we have the wrong people. That’s critical to where I am right now. It’s my job to lead, to build the strategy, to build our plan, and to do what I’m uniquely poised to do, which is hire great people, sell, raise capital. I don’t know if managing people drives revenue. If I find that I am managing the team, I think I have the wrong team as a small company. We all need to be doing heavy lifting, and I need to hire people that I empower, and who can execute.”

How do you make time for you, and for your family?

“My answer is that I’m still learning. I think it’s building one building block at a time.”

What advice would you offer to an aspiring entrepreneur or leader?

“What I call BST and AST, Before “Shark Tank” and After “Shark Tank.” I never miss an episode, but I think a lot of people see the excitement of an Airbnb being valued at $50 billion and Justin’s or RX bar exiting at $650 million. Getting into the business for an exit may not be the right reason. Because, it’s hard.”

“I think the other advice I’d probably give people is something I’ve learned lately. You don’t necessarily go with the team that you started with, and that’s sad. It’s not negative sad, it’s just that my vision was we’re all going to do this together, but not everybody is built for this startup life.”

What would your current self tell your former self?

“You’re going to lose your hair and be a little bit more patient.”

He ended our interview by sharing, “At the end of the day, I go back to what we started with, I really do tap into my cancer experience. My team may be tired of hearing about it, but we had a really difficult situation with our co-packer yesterday — you can print this — where we were treated with incredible disrespect, and I leaned across the table and said, ‘we’re not curing cancer here, we’re making ice cream.’ Coming from me, it’s not a cliché, so it makes the room stock still.”

By Elliot Begoun, for SmartBrief.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS The CMCA Credential: Celebrating 20 Strong Years

“In Their Own Words” commemorates the 20th anniversary of the CMCA credential.  We’ll hear from CMCAs who’ve reached important milestones this year:  their 10th, 15thand 20th anniversary of earning and retaining the Essential Credential. It’s a snapshot of who we are as a community and a glimpse into how some CMCAs entered the profession, what they love about their work and some of the challenges they face.

By Stephanie Durner, CMCA, AMS

Stephanie is the Director of Community Management at River Landing, a private gated golf course community in Wallace, NC.  She has held and retained the CMCA credential for 10 years.

Becoming a community association manager was a big career change for me.  I spent 20 years in television working as an anchor, reporter and producer, primarily covering NASCAR racing.  I quickly discovered when I got married and had children that a schedule which involved racing more than 36 weekends per year was not very conducive to family life. When my husband had a business opportunity near his hometown and away from the heart of NASCAR, I decided it was time to follow a different path.

During my time in NASCAR I had been serving as a volunteer representative for my community association near Charlotte, NC. When my family moved, that experience led me to apply for a job with River Landing. I found my background and skills in communications really helped and supported my role as a community association manager. But as a newcomer to the industry, I still had a lot to learn.

I joined CAI and took advantage of all of their resources. I quickly decided to earn the CMCA credential as it’s a critical element of the profession. Earning the credential 10 years ago helped launch my career but it continues to help me today.  Like the TV industry – things move very quickly and change is inevitable. I love taking advantage of the CECs offered and I utilize the wealth of other resources available on a regular basis.  Whether I’m tapping into the network of peers, participating in an industry event or reading a new research study – I feel I’ve got the support system needed to enhance my role as a strong CMCA.

Homeowners benefit every day from the work we do. Whether it’s managing daily operations and budgets to ensure things are operating smoothly, to troubleshooting a water, sewer or architectural issue, or coordinating a wildlife seminar to help our homeowners co-exist with nature in this rural community, we touch all aspects of their lives. It’s very satisfying to see the work I do appreciated and to see my commitment to my career, demonstrated by the CMCA credential, recognized. I know this is a career that, with the resources available through both CAI and CAMICB, I’m well trained to do.

 

Master these 7 grammar tips if you want to sound smarter

As the executive editor of Avenue Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication based in New York City, I see the importance of proper grammar every day. But you don’t have to work in publishing to realize the necessity of good writing. Misplaced commas, an incorrect spelling, or a missing hyphen can change the meaning of a sentence.Language rules exist for clarity. A classic example is the sentence “Let’s eat mom,” which reads much differently from “Let’s eat, mom.” In the first, the writer is having her mom for dinner. In the second, she is urging her mom to eat with her.

Don’t get caught up in an email chain of miscommunication. Read on for seven tips on how to improve your English expertise.

Read frequently

Writing well can become second nature to those who also read well. Pay attention to how authors structure their sentences and how they use commas and sentence length to adjust tone and cadence. Reading can help to increase vocabulary. If you don’t know where to begin, ask colleagues for reading suggestions specific to your field, or browse best-selling book lists (here’s a great list of business books).

To write well, you must also understand the basics of the English language — how sentences are composed, the different parts of speech, subject/verb agreement, tense, and punctuation. Pick up a copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing” for a fresh take on writing rules.

Memorize homophones

There’s no way around it — many rules in the English language require memorization. Among the most frequently committed grammatical errors are misused homophones, which are words that sound the same but have different meanings.

“You’re/your,” “there/their/they’re,” “its/it’s,” and “then/than” are all commonly confused. An easy tool to help with contractions is to remember that they are derived from two words. “You’re” is “you are”; “they’re” is “they are”; and “it’s” is “it is.” “Then” is used to indicate time, whereas “than” is used as a comparison.

Learn first-person singular pronouns

Sentences often call for choosing the correct first-person singular pronoun — either “I” or “me.” Remember that “I” is a subject pronoun, whereas “me” is an object pronoun. A helpful way to determine word choice is to remove any other subjects.

For example, consider the sentence “My roommate and I/me went to the store.” If you think about the sentence as “I went to the store” or “Me went to the store,” it’s more obvious that “I” is correct.”I” is the subject of the verb “to be.”

Learn how to use commas

As a very broad rule of thumb, commas are used to indicate pauses in a sentence. They should not be used in place of a period. For example, “We went to the baseball field, it was fun” is incorrect.

But “We went to the baseball field, and it was fun” is correct, as commas can be used to separate two independent clauses when joined by coordinating conjunctions like “and,” “or,” or “but.” Commas are also used to separate three or more phrases in a series, after an introductory clause or phrase, and to set off nonessential clauses or phrases.

Beware the dangling modifier

A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that doesn’t have a clear subject. “After reviewing your notes, the conclusion remains elusive” contains a dangling modifier. Who is reviewing the notes? The sentence should be rewritten to say, “After reviewing your notes, I am unable to come to a conclusion.”

Stay active

All sentences are identified as being either active or passive. In an active sentence, the subject performs the action. “The girl ate the salad” is an active sentence.

In a passive sentence, the subject of the sentence is also the subject of the action. “The salad was eaten by the girl” is a passive sentence. Though both are grammatically correct, passive sentence structures often lead to more errors, including dangling modifiers, misplaced commas, and run-on sentences. Sticking to the active voice will help ensure clarity.

Proofread, and read your piece out loud

A common cause of poor writing is time, as writers often power through emails and memos, giving a document a cursory glance before sending it to colleagues or clients. Step away from your piece before you submit it, and give it a thorough proofread.

Reading your writing in a new form — for example, on paper instead of on a screen; in a different font; or out loud — can be helpful in finding typos or grammatical errors.

By Kelly Laffey, for theladders.com

3 Tips for Responding to Sexual Harassment at Meetings

(oatawa/iStock/Getty Images Plus) 

Ensuring the safety of your event is important, but if a sexual harassment incident comes up at your event, due process needs to be considered as well.

1. Make sure the person who was targeted feels safe. “We might need to move their hotel room, provide any additional security, help them travel home earlier, and help them file a police report,” says Entomological Society of America Director of Meetings Rosina Romano, CMP. Following up with them to let them know action has been taken is also important.

2. Decide who has the final say. Sherry Marts, president and CEO of S*Marts Consulting, LLC, advises setting up a system that can decide what to do about a harasser quickly. The board could delegate the responsibility to the executive director, or it could be handled by a small group of designated officials, such as the executive director, president, and president-elect. “This is, to some extent, a safety issue,” she says. “If you’ve got someone doing this at your meeting, you want them out of there.”

3. But don’t be too hasty. Julia Judish, special counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, warns against acting without establishing procedures and providing notice of those procedures to members. “There can be—with the best impulses—the desire to be responsive and take action when something is reported,” she says. But under basic concepts of due process and fair procedures, associations need to give the person who’s affected notice and an opportunity to respond before imposing discipline.

By for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.