Communication, Etiquette and Excellence in Management

March 2022

The expansive role of a condominium manager differs from that of a property manager who is more focused on the mechanical and physical aspects of the building.  A good condominium manager must be equally focused on the condominium declaration, condo rules, and effective communications.  This greater focus is infinitely more challenging.

In a world with easy access to spellcheck and grammar technology, there is no excuse for poorly worded, disjointed e-mails.  Likewise, lengthy and arduous pieces of detailed explanation can be too bulky to be properly absorbed when read, or may get pushed aside completely.

Creating effective and well-written communications — letters, e-mails, reports and minutes — can be a difficult skill to master, particularly in our digital age where most messages are limited to e-mail messages or blasts, and social media posts which typically lack complete explanations or even full sentences.  Many lack the skills to explain and interpret critical information that is fundamental to being an effective condominium manager.  Financial communications are particularly important when working with condo directors and owners who have a financial stake in the well-being of their home.  Presenting monthly manager and financial reports with insights that are written in plain, easy-to-digest language is not easy.

It is important to understand the fundamentals of etiquette in communication – how to communicate clearly and concisely; and importantly, how to adapt communication strategies dependent on the audience.  It is not enough to send a chargeback letter demanding payment for reimbursement of costs incurred from a contractor.  The owner deserves to understand why reimbursement is being requested, where it states within the declaration that the cost is their responsibility, when that payment is due, and what the consequences are if they refuse to pay.

When communication fails completely, results can be tragic.  Ninety-eight lives were lost in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida — lives that could potentially have been saved if the board of directors had fully comprehended the urgency behind the engineering reports provided to them.  Although occurrences such as the Champlain Towers collapse are rare, the disaster shows clearly the importance of establishing clarity and assertiveness when conveying important information.

Managers and executives have a duty to keep informed regarding their industry and to be ever cognizant of their adeptness in communication, whether it be by letter, e-mail or report.  Clarity in communication can save time and reduce confusion.  Affordable, cloud-based writing assistants such as Grammarly can be particularly helpful to catch small grammar mistakes, ensuring that messages are delivered with clear intent.

It’s okay to run a spellcheck on that doc before you e-mail it or to have a co-worker take a look.  Ask yourself, “If I knew absolutely nothing about condominiums, would this letter still make sense?”

As author George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  You can save the phone calls, e-mails and headache in the office by getting it right the first time.

Greg Fraleigh is President of The Enfield Group Inc.