As jugglers of multiple and oftentimes complex tasks, property managers must be adept at mediating between board members and unit owners, as well as resolving all manner of maintenance and legal issues. To this end, property managers don’t have 'typical' days, but rather varied and challenging ones that are often complicated, and require a particular skill set to navigate.
“I think a lot of it is just common sense. It's being able to remain objective, to be able to keep your cool, when you're getting bombarded from all different directions. You can't let your emotions dictate how you handle a situation, you have to be fair and consistent. A lot of it is your ability to communicate in a reasonable manner,” says Thomas A. Skweres, ACM regional vice president in Downers Grove. “I wish we could all have psychology and engineering degrees, but we don't. Property managers come from a lot of different backgrounds, but a good business sense is very important. You've got be like an entrepreneur or a jack of all trades.”
The Juggling Act
In order to do their respective jobs well, managers require a wide array of both concrete skills and specific personality traits. And while the size of the property dictates a manager's involvement and responsibilities to a large degree, there are a few traits that are common to any good manager. These professionals understand not only how to deal with boards and residents, but vendors and the ever-changing status of the property–whether its due to the environment, a lawsuit, dishonest contractors or changing board members. In the end, it is the board that ultimately entrusts the property manager to make the right call regardless of the situation.
Since the role of the board is essentially that of policy making, board members must take a team approach when working with a property manager. To this end, board members must read all reports, attend all meetings and make decisions that are in the overall interest of the community. But getting a buy-in from board members in all this requires some skill on the part of the manager.
“A manager wants to be professional and exercise their knowledge, but at the same time we have to remember we don't get a vote. As much as we feel like we're a part of these homes, I like to say at the end of the day we're just a property manager,” says Adam Stolberg, president of Advantage Management in Chicago. “As a manager, you want to present ideas and solutions. You have to try not to get emotional about it or take a side. We've had buildings where boards won't follow the law, and there is no resolution, and we've tendered our resignation to boards like that. We can't let our personal feelings get in the way, and we don't get a vote.”