EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION TOOLS The Key To An Association's Success

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					EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION TOOLS:
The Key To An Association’s Success                                 Marcy L. Kravit, CMCA, AMS
April 2007

If you've ever had a miscommunication, then you know that words mean different things to
different people. Every day those differences in communication can cost your association a lot of
time, energy and money.

Bridging those differences takes effective communication: this is the foundation for excellence in
leadership, performance and management.

Learning how to utilize these essential tools are the key to effective communication. Accurate and
respectful ways of communicating can help to prevent costly miscommunication in addition to
time consuming misunderstanding.

The flow of information between people is the lifeblood for communication in community
associations. For communications to be effective in an association, we must learn and practice
these skills with clarity, consistency and caring. These skills are especially important when working
with conflict and transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs. There are many forms of effective
communication used in associations today.

Online technology is an innovative tool that allows many associations to provide timely
information relating to the community. Web design pricing has decreased in the last couple of
years. There are several companies that specifically cater to designing association websites. The
web is an excellent form of communication. Rules and regulations, newsletters, minutes, budgets,
monthly and annual meeting notices, surveys and announcements can be posted for easy
reference. Posting forms online allows the resident to submit in a timely manner and saves a trip
to the manager’s office. Account balances can also be viewed utilizing a password issued to
residents. Absentee owners can benefit from this source of communication.
Email has opened the door providing another form of communication for Board Members,
managers, residents and vendors in order to keep the communication flowing. It is recommended
to use a signature to sign your name at the bottom of the message. Utilize the “read receipt”
feature if you require confirmation that the recipient has received the email. In addition to
sending a letter, email allows for attachments of documents in a timely manner. It also cuts down
on the costs involved with paper and postage.

Newsletters can provide official communications of the association and can clearly outline the
rules and regulations, official notices to owners, surveys for owner input and upcoming events.
When designing a newsletter, it is recommended to keep it simple, legible and orderly. Align
columns and graphics for easy reading. Visuals attract the reader’s eye. Photos make it personal.
Consider a president’s message, give credit to a staff member, profile a resident, recognize the
efforts of a committee and highlight the Board of Directors accomplishments. Include a calendar
of events. The newsletter should not be used in expressing political views.

When managing community associations, good customer service and communication involves
proper telephone etiquette. Promptly answer the phone and focus your attention on the caller.
Greet the caller with an upbeat, courteous and polite manner in your voice. Practice looking in
the mirror and smile as you answer the phone. Ask the caller for the spelling of their name, if you
failed to listen to the caller as they initially spoke. Return voicemail messages within 24 hours.
Limit the use of a speakerphone. It is very impersonal and often difficult to hear the caller on the
other end.

Weekly management reports provide a summary and accountability of all activities, events,
meetings and maintenance that was performed in the community. This tool is very effective when
communicating with the Board of Directors.

Bulletin boards are a great way to post notices. This provides a simple way to get the message
out. Residents become accustomed to looking for updated notices. The location of a bulletin
board is critical. The mailroom is a convenient location for notices to be posted.

Welcome packages supply information to new owners that include governance, emergency
information, architectural guidelines, use of common areas and facilities, policies and frequently
called numbers. This is an excellent tool in establishing a new owner in the community in order to
acquaint them with the many aspects of community living.
 
Many associations have the option of installing a public service channel that can be accessed on
the local cable channel. The equipment can be purchased or rented. Advertising and public
service announcements such as meeting notices, reminders, emergency information and member
information can be broadcast.

Phillip Zerof, Manager of the Carlton Towers Condominium located in Fort Lauderdale explains,
“One method we have which is in the process of being updated is our in-house channel. We are
either updating the character generator or installing a separate computer with graphics. I think
the layout and design of the buildings or property have a great deal to do with communicating
effectively. We also use plastic bag door hangers when notices or letters are sent to residents. I
believe educating the residents how you are going to communicate with them and consistency is
the key.”

Managers know good communication skills are necessary for team building when it involves their
staff. Develop an appreciation and communicate the strengths your staff gives to the team.
Identify specific actions to manage your time and identify the staff’s ability to communicate to you
and each other. Communicate and convey your appreciation to your staff in recognizing their
skills and you will achieve better results based on clear goals and improved communication.
Always let them know that you are open to listen to them, and value their input in communicating
their ideas.

It is important to understand that team building is a process that requires leadership. Know how
to motivate your staff to get the best results. Taking appropriate action to communicate what is
important in the operations will assist in managing your time and reduce stress.

The goal of communicating is to build a trust and respect among the members of the association.
Staying informed, sharing ideas and posting of events in the community eliminates rumors,
conflict, misconceptions and misunderstanding. Community building involves effective
communications and is essential for optimal performance in establishing a community’s goals
and objectives. The ability to communicate comes from being willing and able to see, hear and
feel the essence that captures each and every member of the community. If you want to
accomplish more, more effectively, these are some suggested tools you can use to improve
communications in your association.