HOA Management | Managing Expectations in a Fast Paced World
Written by Sharlene Rhea, CMCA®, AMS®, LSM®, PCAM®
Managing expectations – HOA Board members, homeowners, contractors, co-workers and our employer. All of that to handle in an average 9-5 day work day – whew! Does anyone have an eight hour day anymore? It seems that long gone is the days of time to ourselves and family after hours, weekends and even at times vacation. We all are working at a faster pace than ever before.
As I write this article it reminds me of the old ketchup commercial – ANTICIPATION is making me wait. Because of the more rapid pace of today, the bottle of ketchup was made into a squeeze bottle. No one wants or has the time to wait!
Today in the world of immediate response and immediate satisfaction, we find ourselves struggling to meet the expectations of those we come in contact with on a daily basis. Email is readily available and now being carried in our pockets, text messaging much easier than picking up a phone all mean we should be able to respond the moment we are contacted and not one second less.
The word expectation is defined as to meet or achieve a particular goal or task. What it does not mean is to drop everything in your life and be available to all 24/7. However, the manner in which you communicate that message will go a long way in your ability to manage the expectations of those you interact with on a regular basis.
So how do we set expectations? Clearly, let clients know what your policy is on responding to emails and phone calls. By setting expectations, it allows them to determine what may be an urgent need and how to communicate with you. Provide them with an alternate means of communicating when there is an urgency or when you may be unavailable. Communicate your hours of operation, out of office replies when out for extended periods of time to ensure that there is no mistake in your timeline for getting back to those who are trying to reach you.
When handling the expectations of others, it is important to consider several factors and communicate those effectively.
1 . Don’t overestimate your ability – Yes you are a “superstar”; however, be reasonable with what you can accomplish with the time and resources that are available to you so that you always set yourself up for success. There is no need to say “no” but do communicate a reasonable timeframe in which the task can be completed.
Explain the process to those involved so that everyone is on the same page. Most people do not understand what certain tasks require for them to get accomplished. We tend to take for granted that those we work for have a full understanding of all that is necessary to obtain a proposal for work to be completed or to research a matter that is necessary for them to come to a decision.2. Communicate with proactive updates – be sure to effectively communicate the status of a project or task so that the individuals that you are working with understand where you are in the process. Providing excellent communication will allow them to recognize what obstacles that you may have run into and when the project may be completed in advance of asking you for the update. Communication is the most effective means of managing expectations.
Providing something in writing will be the best way to document your activity. Doing this on a routine basis will help you to maintain the consistency and help to keep from becoming overwhelmed as well. Documenting your activity is also an excellent method of showing clients the value that you provide to them.
Communicate the method by which you will provide updates and stay with it – do what you say. Don’t wait until the frustration exists because of the unknown timelines in which you would get back to those you work for every day. Knowing your audience will help you to understand better the expectation required and set them in advance.
Stay true to yourself by being honest with what and how you can accomplish your goals. Know your limitations. Stay true to your Board and homeowners by being responsive to them with the reasonable expectations communicated before there being a need. Respect your employer by being responsive to those who are jointly responsible for ensuring that you have work to do every day. Understand your contractor, knowing that they are likely in the same busy position you are juggling multiple needs will give you both an appreciation for the every day.
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