RealManage Insight

Bad News Boards | 5 Tips to Delivering Bad News

by Terry Bascher on Apr 1, 2021 9:45:00 AM

As an HOA board member, it is inevitable that at some point, you will have to deliver bad news to homeowners and the members of your community. Depending on the gravity of the issue, bad news can trigger misunderstandings that result in lengthy legal battles and diminished trust between you and the residents. 

For sure, bad news negatively affect a tenant's experience in a rental property; whether a situation has forced you to increase common charges, or a community amenity needs to be closed due to unavoidable circumstances, or you are implementing policies that affect their lives, sharing bad news is never easy. 

Regardless of the news you are delivering, approaching bad news the right way can ease the burden and reduce the trauma on the receiver. Who knows, it can even be an opportunity to reinforce your trust with the residents.  

Read on to see how you can deliver bad news to homeowners without igniting conflict and frustration: 

Consult your governing documents 

Every HOA has its governing documents containing rules and regulations relating to the community. These rules address a range of issues, from how conflicts should be handled to how members should receive a violation notice. In addition to community guidelines, state, county, and city governing rules can ensure you are in line when delivering bad news. 

Consulting your governing documents can offer the guidance you need to make the process of delivering bad news smooth and void of conflict. It will also ensure you deliver the news with thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and professionalism.   

Think ahead

If possible, it is advisable to inform your tenants early enough if the bad news will affect them at a personal level. For instance, if it is about rent increment, be sure to let them know a month or two before raising the rent. This allows them ample time to adjust their plans or make moving arrangements if necessary. 

Checking with the local and state guidelines before making changes that impact homeowners can ensure you avoid legal complications in the future. It also helps to maintain good relationships with your tenants and the community. 

Be considerate about timing 

Taking into consideration how bad news affects the welfare of the community is a requisite for existing harmoniously with residents, both in good and bad times. For instance, when scheduling community-wide repairs, say fixing the water pipes, turning off water during weekdays when people are at work is more convenient, as opposed to doing it on weekends. 

If it's about fixing the pool, do so during winter when there are fewer swimming activities. The idea here is to consider the most appropriate time to deliver bad news to ensure the impact is minimal and less inconveniencing. 

Find the right approach 

It is important that you use the right approach when delivering bad news to reduce stress on your side as well as the resident (s) receiving the bad news. Make sure to structure your delivery like this: 

An opening – start with a neutral, sincere, and positive opening that seeks to help the resident understand the situation. 

The reasoning – Explain the cause of the bad news before disclosing it and what prompted the reasoning behind it. Be transparent and straightforward, and make your delivery clear and concise. You should also explain how the reasoning will benefit the community. 

The news – Deliver the news in an understandable manner. Incorporate terms such as 'please,' 'sorry' 'welcome,' and so on. This helps to ease the tension and trauma. 

Closing – The closing message should be personalized and should seek to reassure the homeowner of a more positive relationship. 

Show empathy

Delivering bad news is already painful to the homeowner, and the least you can do is show you empathize with them. Be willing to listen to their concerns and assure them that you will do your best to make things better and minimize disruptions. As part of your community, let them feel you care and have their best interests at heart. 

Summary 

Delivering bad news to homeowners is no doubt a daunting task. However, you have the ability to make the delivery less impactful and traumatizing. These tips can guide you the next time you have to break unpleasant news to your tenants.