How much authority should be given to management, and its impact on a community, varies.
Condo boards are made up of unique individuals each with their own working style, mindset, skills and knowledge. This makes each board unique.
Some condo boards prefer a hands-off approach. They give more control and decision-making authority to the condominium manager. Others prefer to be more active in the management of their home. At one extreme is the dictatorial and autocratic condominium board. This can be effective when owners are uninterested in how their home is managed, don’t want to be on the board nor do the work expected of owners. Only a few owners are interested in managing their community and are able to do so without conflict.
Some condo directors are engaged. Others may be overly engaged, or disengaged. For a manager, disengaged boards are easiest to deal with on day-to-day issues. They choose to be barely involved in the management of their home. Getting the board to make difficult decisions is hard. It requires extra work to educate and re-educate them on issues and important matters. Deferred maintenance is common if the manager is not given both authority and budget to manage the property.
An overly engaged board is the most difficult to work with. They get too involved in day-to-day operations, and lose the perspective needed to focus on bigger issues. Boards should not be involved in managing staff; selecting flowers, wallpaper or carpeting; or choosing furniture. Micromanagement is a problem even if well intentioned and based on past experience. The board’s responsibility is to make policy and procedure. The manager is responsible for management and implementation.
The best management style for a board, arguably, is collaborative. Board members want to be there. They are open to opinions and make decisions by consensus. This works best if the board focuses on the “big picture” and leaves details for the condominium manager to address. It may take longer to for a collaborative board to come to an agreement but their final decision is well thought out. This type of board doesn’t spend hours discussing wallpaper or flowers. One-hour board meetings don’t expand to two or three hours because of details. They find it best to let others make most decisions so the board can focus on larger matters such as controlling costs and understanding where money is spent.
Board management styles evolve as people improve their management skills and better understand their community, and director turnover. It happens when a trusted condominium manager coaches, listens and engages the board.
Condominium managers don’t select the board they work with. They adapt to work with what is presented to them.