Communication Chain of Command

October 2020

Well managed communities establish a communication process intended to ensure resident concerns are addressed without placing an unmanageable burden on management and directors.  Condo owners and residents will, at times, attempt to have their concerns addressed by circumventing this process.  Unless the matter is of true urgency, these efforts are unlikely to be effective.

One of the more important matters for a condo board is to establish a clear communication chain of command.  Residents should know who to contact about any issue or concern, how to do so, and when to expect a response.  Condo management software offers an easy solution to this challenge.  Having all communications come through an established management system makes it easy to document, forward and deal with matters that arise.  The technology reminds management of outstanding issues.  It keeps residents apprised of the status of their queries and retains a complete history of communications.

The condo board, elected by condo owners, is not the point of contact for most concerns.  They employ management to handle day-to-day business of the corporation including resident matters.  Few resident concerns are brought to the attention of the board because this would be inefficient.  Matters can be addressed more quickly by following an established process thus allowing the board to focus their volunteer time on activities requiring their involvement.

Volunteer directors are residents with their own lives doing unpaid work.  When not acting in their official capacity directors are not there for the convenience of residents.  Confronting a director in a hallway, lobby, elevator or parking lot to address personal concerns is inappropriate.  Knocking on their door is an inappropriate disruption of their personal life unlikely to be viewed favourably.

The volume of activities in a community is such that concerns must be brought to the attention of management.  A community of hundreds can generate thousands of e-mail communications each month plus telephone calls and visits to the management office.  Effective management will document and deal with those communications and issues as quickly as possible.  When an issue can be resolved by management without involving the board, it is done.  The end result is communicated to the board.  Matters that need to be brought to the board’s attention will be prioritized and addressed by the board as time allows.  Condo boards tend to focus on policy, finances and project execution before dealing with individual resident concerns.

Residents working around the process create delay and confusion.  Bringing concerns to the attention of the condo board can be a two or three month process by the time personal matters are added to an agenda to be addressed at an upcoming board meeting.

  • A communication chain of command exists to ensure resident complaints and queries are expressed without confrontation, and addressed.
  • There should always be a way to reach someone for true emergencies. That individual may be the condominium manager, management office, concierge or superintendent.
  • Put all complaints, concerns and issues in writing, preferably via e-mail and through your condo management communication system so that records are automatically maintained. This forces the individual to fully explain their problem or concern.  The manager can respond  to the problem or concern, or seek clarification before responding.  Anyone wanting to bring a concern to the attention of the board should understand this is the only way to do so.
  • For nearly all matters and concerns the condominium manager or management office is the first point of contact. They are most aware of building issues and have the resources available to deal with whatever needs to be addressed.

When communications are poor residents may seek another outlet.  They may post messages in hallways or elevators, harass directors, post an online blog or establish a Facebook forum.  While these approaches may seem empowering, they fail to get a clear message to management about their concern and tend not to help resolve concerns.