By Maureen Radon, CMCA
The community management profession is unique. Where else can you find a job that involves talking to an attorney, an insurance agent, a banker, and customers all in the same day? We are fortunate to have access to continuing education and resources that keep our skills sharp to help shape the neighborhoods we manage. During a time when industry norms have made managers their own worst enemies, it’s the responsive and efficient processes of Aperion Management in Central Oregon that have contributed to its decade of providing top-notch service.
What matters most
Finding a work-life balance is important in any profession, especially community management. It’s why Aperion fosters a culture that promotes it. It’s one of the secrets to our success. Aperion was founded a decade ago as a single person operation. The management company has grown to be the first and only CAI accredited association management company in Central Oregon, with more than 25 staff members.
We found that an employee-first model doesn’t need to come at the expense of growth. For example, Aperion Management hosts nearly all its client board meetings during normal business hours. The work still gets completed on time with the same accuracy as it does for clients who meet in the evenings. Operating like this means managers don’t have to sacrifice family or personal time.
Putting employees first
Board members and homeowners can be ruthless and occasionally flat out disrespectful in their dealings with us. Sometimes, we sit in board meetings that drudge on for hours despite our best efforts to implement order and efficiency. People complain about pool rules, or their noisy neighbors. Processes that are totally out of our control become our fault.
Having worked in a variety of settings for different companies, I can tell you first-hand that when a company chooses to put its employees first and then train and direct its clients to follow suit, the outcome will be beneficial for both parties. It’s another secret to our success. Until we stand up for ourselves on a broader industry level and stop allowing this type of treatment to occur, we will continue to be caught in survival mode. We are only as great as our clients allow us to be.
Adapting to ever-changing technology and working to keep pace with others can cause employees to burn out. And though community managers pride themselves on being resilient, the ability to be flexible comes with its own set of stressors.
An article titled “The Conversation” said that, “The solution is to simplify complex, contradictory and hostile work and personal environments, rather than giving us all another job of training ourselves to be more resilient to these environments.” An effective way to practice this is to work with “like-minded” clients.
Aperion has a client code of conduct written into its management contracts, which specifies the expectations the management company has of its board members and homeowners. Clients are trained on these expectations during board sessions and those who do not abide by the rules are given a few chances and if they still can’t behave, they’re let go. Employees know they will be treated with respect and that there are consequences for the client if that doesn’t happen. Board members and homeowners appreciate that their meetings are conducted with civility. If your management company doesn’t set expectations and boundaries for client behavior, now is a great time to start thinking about this model.
My experience has shown me that success can mean different things to different people and looks very different depending on who you surround yourself with. Ask yourself: Do you look forward to going to work each day? Do you feel supported if you have a problem client, or does your company value the client’s management fee revenue over your self-worth? Aperion reached its 10-year milestone by establishing and following company values that support managers and clients, and we will continue to encourage these industry trends for next 10 years.
Maureen Radon, CMCA, is a senior community manager at Aperion Management Group in Oregon.