Disaster Preparedness

With more than 68 million Americans living homes governed by community associations, emergency planning has become an essential skill of HOA managers. Community managers play a key role in any emergency response effort. HOA managers must understand what types of disasters are likely to occur in their community, develop emergency response protocols, practice them and then communicate them. For that reason, HOA and condo boards must choose CMCAs to manage their communities.

Disasters range from summer wildfires to hurricanes, tornados to blizzards. Their impact on communities varies, depending on their size and location, the age of the housing stock and a community’s degree of preparedness.Emergency Management

According to the American Red Cross, writing a disaster preparedness plan has six steps:

  1. Committing to preparedness for the community or property. This means getting the HOA board and other top leadership committed to disaster planning.
  2. Conducting a hazard vulnerability assessment. George Sullivan, an expert in disaster preparedness for the American Red Cross says, “A lot of people write an emergency response plan based on something that happened to someone else.”
  3. Developing an emergency response plan. “If you already have one, now is the time to revisit it and ask all the big ‘what ifs,’ such as ‘what if we’re no longer able to operate in this location?” Sullivan says.
  4. Testing your plan. An untested plan is not a real plan – so go ahead and plan those drills.
  5. Communicating about preparedness. Managers must make preparedness top of mind in their communities, through newsletters and bill inserts.
  6. Helping others. By definition, a commitment to disaster preparedness is a commitment to helping others – so some communities consider adopting a local school or church or hosting a blood drive.

Share your planning tips and tricks in the comments section.

Safe Winter Driving

driving snow.jpgDo you residents have a checklist for safe winter driving? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a helpful list of tips:

  • Get your car serviced
  • Check your battery
  • Check your cooling system
  • Fill your windshield washer reservoir
  • Check your windshield wipers and defrosters
  • Verify floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference
  • Inspect your tires
  • Know your car
  • Plan your travel and route
  • Stock your vehicle
  • Learn what to do in a winter emergency

Download the PDF for your community: https://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/WinterDrivingTips2012.pdf

 

 

Stay Current with Smartbrief!

smartbrief

Did you get the Community Association Management SmartBrief this week? CAMICB provides a free, weekly e-mail newsbrief specifically designed for community association managers. Sign up here.

This complimentary resource is aimed at bringing you a quick, two-minute read that will help you keep up-to-date with the latest news and trends in our profession. SmartBrief will provide short summaries of the news articles that will be of interest to you as a community association manager. We know it will save you time, keep you informed and add to your success. I hope you will subscribe.

 

A Study on Workplace Fun

By Chad Brooks

Letting your employees have more fun around the office could them make them better at their jobs, new research suggests. A study recently published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior discovered a link between informal learning, which is a common way employees pick up new skills that improve their job performance, and having fun at work. Michael Tews, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at Penn State University, said informal learning includes most unstructured, nonclassroom forms of education.

“Most learning at the workplace occurs independently at the desk, or with a few other people, not necessarily in a classroom,” Tews said in a statement.

The study’s authors believe it’s not necessarily the fun activities themselves that teach the new lessons to employees. Instead, they think it’s the fun atmosphere that creates a better learning environment. [See Related Story: ‘Learners’ Make the Most Effective Leaders]

Tews said employees in fun work environments are more willing to try new things and not stress about mistakes they may make.workplace-fun

“It’s easier to make the connection between fun and retention, or fun and performance to the extent that it leads to creativity, but fun and learning doesn’t seem connected at the face of it,” Tews said. “The gist of this argument, though, is that when you have a workplace that is more fun, it creates a safe environment for learning to occur.”

The study’s authors said the research revealed that while fun could be considered a distraction, it actually has the ability to improve employee resiliency and optimism, which in turn leads to better attention on tasks.

Fun also has the potential to bring co-workers together, which can help learning among colleagues.

“It creates this group cohesion,” Tews said. “So, when there’s fun, then the co-workers may be able to get to know each other, have better connections, and be more apt to help each other.”

For the study, the researchers surveyed 206 managers from a chain of casual dining restaurants. The surveys had the managers rate fun activities, their own bosses’ support for fun, their attitude and informal learning at their restaurants.

The questions were designed to help determine if fun activities were supported by management, such as team-building activities or recognition celebrations, and how much overall support there was for fun on the job.

The study’s authors discovered that fun has more of an impact on employee learning than whether not an employer has created a climate for learning.

“What we’re showing is that this fun on the job actually matters as much as ― or even more ― than that support for learning,” Tews said.

The study’s authors note, however, that fun cannot cure everything that is wrong with workplace performance. Previous research from Tews found that while fun can increase employee retention, it also has the possibility to hurt productivity.

Based on the current and past research, Tews believes employers should be selective in how they use fun to encourage learning and productivity.

“With most management tactics, there are always going to be pros and cons,” Tews said. “There’s never going to be a perfect workplace, there’s never going to be a perfect management intervention, so you have to choose your battles.”

Although Tews believes moving forward it would be beneficial to examine other groups of employees, he does think that this current study does support the notion that fun has instrumental value in the workplace.

The study was co-authored by John Michel, an associate professor at Loyola University, and Raymond Noe, a professor at Ohio State University.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter. – See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9640-fun-at-work.html#sthash.HuIcq6we.dpuf

CMCA Recertification

CAMICB sent reminder notices this month to individuals who need to recertify and/or pay their annual service fee by April 2017. Here are a few helpful links:

recertificationA few things to note:

  1. It is the responsibility of each CMCA to provide documentation of their 16 hours of continuing education at the time of recertification. CAMICB does not track your CEs. If you took a class with CAI, please log into their website (caionline.org) to print out a certificate of completion.
  2. Only courses completed between April 1, 2015 and April 1, 2017 present will count as continuing education.
  3. If you have held an active AMS, PCAM, FL CAM, NV CAM or NAHC-RCM for at least a year, this will satisfy your CMCA continuing education requirement.
  4. Credit hours may be earned only for education that meets either of the following criteria: It pertains to community association operations or management and/or it contributes to the professional development of the CMCA.
  5. The CMCA Annual Service Fee is $105.00. Oftentimes this fee is confused with CAI’s individual manager membership. Recently, CAI increased the rate of the individual manager membership from $130.00 to $134.00. While CAMICB maintains an affiliate relationship with CAI, we are an independent credentialing body: separately incorporated, governed by an independent Board of Trustees, and guided in the administration of our program by the standards of our accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. We are not a membership organization; we do not collect membership dues. We assess our credential holders an annual maintenance fee which is used to support the development and delivery of our core exam and the operation of our program in accordance with best practices in professional credentialing.

Rachel LaCroix, Certification Assistant, is happy to assist you with the recertification process. Contact Roland at rlacroix@camicb.org with any questions.

Are You Wasting Your Time at Work?

By Joel Garfinkle

You’d like to take on that critical task or project that will really get attention. You’ve got the skills, the connections and perhaps you even have the experience, but do you have the time? If you’re like most North Americans, the day is an endless string of distractions in which you struggle to get some real work done. Studies show we’re interrupted up to eight times an hour – how is anything ever accomplished?

You may be trying to cope by working longer hours, and stressing out about how there must be some way you should be trying harder. Productivity, surprisingly is not about more time or harder effort. Skip the stress and the long nights; start practicing these skills to make the most of your time.make-today-a-productive-day.

Skill No. 1: Prioritize

It may seem basic, but the first step is to determine what you actually need to do to accomplish your goals. Whether the plan is for a day’s tight deadline, a short-term project, or a longer spanning objective, consider these questions:

What exactly must be done?

What are the sub tasks?

Which tasks need prep work and/or lead time?

Who will I need to help me?

How soon do I need to engage them?

Prioritize advanced practice: Consider just saying no. It may seem crazy, but sometimes saying no can be the right choice. Does this assignment or opportunity grow your skill set? Advance your career? Earn you goodwill or notice? Unify your team? If not, consider whether it’s possible to say no.

When we overwhelm ourselves with too many things, we lose the ability to give an enthusiastic yes to the opportunity that will really inspire us.

Skill No. 2: Delegate

It can be tempting to try to do everything single-handed, especially when what you’re working on is critical or high-profile. Rest assured, however, that your superiors are watching that you get a job done (and done well), not that you do it all yourself. Determine how you can effectively divide up the work. Delegation starts by asking these questions:

What is the scope of the work?

How can the work be divided into multiple tasks?

Who has the right skillsets?

Are there barriers to completing tasks?

Can I, or my boss, eliminate those barriers to keep things moving?

Delegate advanced practice: When you’ve settled into the role of delegating and bringing it all together, step up your game by adding an even more critical eye to the way you divide up work. Often, there is at least one task on our own lists that we could give away, but keep for emotional or personal reasons. It not only robs our time, but robs opportunity from others.

Identifying and surrounding yourself a great team is as much a talent as possessing the ability to do anyone task. Give yourself and others the chance to grow by assigning responsibility and then following up.

Skill No. 3: Focus

Many otherwise stellar leaders have claimed they just couldn’t focus. Usually, this led to a lot of negative self-talk and frustration, and an inability to make traction on critical tasks. If you have trouble focusing, especially under pressure, take a step back, and set yourself up for success by asking the following questions:

What is my plan for the day/week? (Hour by hour or 15-minute increments if necessary)

What tasks/distractions can I ignore? (meetings, phone, my door)

What time-wasters will I give up for the duration (checking email, checking stocks)

Focus advanced practice: While it may seem counterintuitive to some, but the next level can be simple – quit multitasking! Studies show that very few of us are actually any good at performing multiple tasks at once; trying to do so just makes us less productive. If you want to truly step up your game, work on ways to concentrate on just one thing at a time.

How do you waste your time at work? What hurdles to you need to overcome to be more productive? What tricks have you learned to keep you on task and successful at the end of the day?

Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 executive coaches in the U.S., having worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Oracle, Google, Amazon, Deloitte, The Ritz-Carlton, Gap and Starbucks. He is the author of 300 articles on leadership and 7 books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level.

 

By Jason Tchir

Bonuses are on the minds of many employees and managers, who are watching their companies’ metrics to see what fortunes this year might bring. But while bonuses might seem like a sure-fire way to motivate employees, the truth is more complicated.

“They’re a part of rewarding employees for achieving and overachieving – but they’re not just driven by sales for everybody,” said Jason Greenspan, chief executive officer and founder of Whbonusoosh Inc., which makes screen cleaners for mobile devices. “If it’s just about sales, it can create this toxic, competitive culture where I just hit my number and I’m done.”

Whoosh allots bonuses based on individual and company performance targets, which vary depending on the employee’s role, and says they’re just part of a fair compensation package.

 “I think bonuses are important. We have corporate targets that have to be met for there to be a bonus pool for everybody,” Mr. Greenspan said. “But they’re not the be-all and end-all for us.”

Small businesses, especially in the early years, may consider giving employees bonuses instead of committing to higher salaries. But there are risks, says Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“Bonuses can be helpful, especially in an environment where you’re just not able to build up that base pay because you can’t be confident sales will be there. The problem is, you can underbonus and won’t get the growth you need, and you can overbonus – and if you hit the gas too hard in the bonus side, you’re left with little money to pump back into the business.”

A bigger question you need to answer is why you’re giving the bonus in the first place. Research shows that bonuses – and other incentives – only make employees work harder if they understand exactly what they need to do to get it, said Marc-David Seidel, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resources at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

“It has to be clear,” said Dr. Seidel, who has a PhD in organizational behaviour. “If you don’t do it the right way, it can create competition and resentment – like if you have a team of 10 people and five do all the work, but they all get bonuses equally.”

Not only that, giving people a bonus for parts of their job that they’re already “intrinsically motivated to do,” can actually make them less likely to work as hard, Dr. Seidel said.

Employees care about more than money – and cash alone won’t make them drive a small business to succeed. Small businesses need to recognize that they may not be able to afford to pay the “top drawer” compensation that a large firm may offer, the CFIB’s Mr. Kelly said. But they have other advantages over big businesses.

“Studies show employees rate working at a small business very well on many indicators – access to decision makers, interesting work, flexibility, less bureaucracy – but compensation isn’t the highest,” Mr. Kelly said. “Our advice is [for small businesses] to try and focus their offerings on non-monetary parts of compensation, like flex time, an extra week off at Christmas and the ability to work from home where relevant.”

Giving employees future ownership potential in the company – through profit-sharing, stock options or options for future stocks – can “get them lined up with the goals of the organization, and you don’t need to offer money or a reward,” Dr. Seidel said.

“The benefit of stock is that it doesn’t cost the business owner a lot in those early days,” Mr. Kelly said. “And it gives employees a stake in the future of the companies.”

Weever Apps Inc., which makes an app that lets companies track workers in the field, pays competitive salaries but does not give out bonuses.

“If everyone feels that they’re in this together, then seeing the company make progress should matter – and not an explicit dollar amount tied to a perceived performance,” said Andrew Holden, Weever’s chief technology officer. “There are specific roles, like a salesperson, where tying a bonus to performance makes sense – but when you’re working with engineers, a lot of the most intractable problems are the most hidden ones where they’re taking ownership of processes and making them work better.”

Generally, bonuses tend work to motivate employees in financially oriented companies, but not necessarily in creative fields, Dr. Seidel said.

“If you say, ‘If you’re more creative today, I’ll give you a $100 bonus’ – it doesn’t really work,” Dr. Seidel said. “If you say, ‘I’ll give you more flex days where you can work from a café or from home’ – that might matter more to them.”

If you’re trying to decide whether to offer bonuses, you should ask employees whether they want them – or want that same amount, say $2,000, to spend on things like braces for their kids or massages, Dr. Seidel said.

“They can be really up front. Say, ‘Look, we’ll have this much of a budget to spend,’ and give as much flexibility as you can to let employees decide what they want,” Dr. Seidel said. “Certain employees will be motivated by every cent of a bonus that you give them and others will care more about being respected and good perks.”

 

Snow Removal and You

From Thanksgiving until the end of winter (and sometimes even later), snow may fall in area community associations and create issues of safety and parking that can escalate and become dangerous. The biggest concern and perhaps the biggest complaint that boards struggle with is snow removal. This is usually a no-win situation for the manager (think Snowmaggedon).

snow

Despite what individual owners may think, boards of directors have no control of the snow, but they are responsible for snow removal (or lack thereof). In an effort to meet their legal obligation and to diminish the amount of callers, the board and management should hire a competent, properly insured snow removal company that is reliable. Hiring at the last minute the guy who shows up with the plow at the end of his truck is a mistake waiting to happen. Hiring someone who you are assured will show up as required pursuant to a written contract will go a long way towards goodwill of the owners for the entire year. Aside from the inconvenience and chaos it creates in the community, the removal of snow can be filled with liability issues, so having a competent properly insured contractor in place before the first snowfall is vital.

One favorite issue in a blizzard is when an owner (especially in townhouse communities) cleans a parking space and returns 20 minutes later to see a neighbor has taken over the “common area” parking space. Wars sometime start with this process. Your association may wish to send a reminder at the beginning of the season that all spaces are common spaces and that they may not be reserved.