Contributed by Leslie Alvarez, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM
These past few years have been indescribably stressful for everyone. Two years of a pandemic, lack of socialization, mask-wearing, and general fear and anxiety have only increased the slow erosion of kindness and empathy we have seen devolve over the past few years. It’s time for some important behavioral changes in community association management. It’s time to commit to a healthy work-life balance.
In our business, verbal and written abuse have reached new, unacceptable levels, and basic respect and common courtesy are no longer so common. Experienced managers, including myself, have been suffering stress-induced health issues.
We need a significant shift to ensure community managers are treated with respect and courtesy. It all starts with setting reasonable boundaries for mental and physical health. If more of us do that, we can start a movement and create real change for the next generation of community managers.
Here are a few boundaries to establish to maintain a healthy work-life balance:
Establish an appointment-only policy. Many times, residents will stop in the office and demand to see the manager. They wouldn’t do this to their cardiologist or attorney. Establish the fact that you are a professional and require appointments. If a board opposes this concept, offer a schedule of “open-door” hours where walk-in traffic can access you freely.
Establish a weekly update meeting. Oftentimes, we spend hours meeting with every board member. They pop into the office one by one for just a couple questions. Managers can take control by scheduling a recurring weekly meeting with board members to give updates on pending projects and priorities for the week. This is not considered an official meeting.
Schedule as many board meetings and committee meetings as possible during business hours. This may be a challenge for board members who have full-time jobs. However, when you serve on the board for a professional nonprofit organization like the United Way or Red Cross, your meetings are not at 7 p.m., and certainly are not on the weekends.
When you leave the office, leave the office. Establish the understanding with your boards that while you are available for an emergency, you are not available for everything after hours. If you respond to a non-emergency email after hours, you are effectively training your board to believe you will respond, and they will have an expectation as such.
Manage your email. An organized email inbox is imperative to your success. In today’s technological age, some things can be a quick phone call, text, or Microsoft Teams message. This helps to avoid bogging down everyone’s emails for a quick conversation and avoids frustration and unnecessary delays when waiting for a response on something relatively easy.
Manage your time effectively. Time block for big projects so you can focus on the actual task without feeling the need to juggle.
Prioritize your personal events. Make sure your personal schedule is a priority and is on your professional calendar so you don’t double-book yourself and miss important personal events.
Let’s not just talk about change, let’s go make it happen. Let’s commit to a healthy work-life balance.
Leslie Alvarez is the regional director of Castle Group in West Palm Beach, Fla.
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGERS WELLNESS GUIDE
Community association board members and managers experience mental health challenges in all aspects of fulfilling their obligations to the community and its residents. CAI recognizes that this can take a toll, leading to feelings of burnout and job dissatisfaction. The 2021 Community Association Manager Council made manager wellness a priority and created the Community Association Managers Wellness Guide to find healthy, functional approaches to both your personal and professional life using a few simple steps.
>>Get the free guide to boost your work-life balance.