New Resident Managers and Committees – How to Make it Work

Developing a friendly professional relationship in your new community can be a difficult experience for new resident managers. It doesn’t have to be but it is sometimes a real issue.

Relationships with different key people can be difficult to establish, particularly if the last managers (or the ones previously) had problems getting along or if there are lots of unresolved or unsatisfactorily resolved issues. Many times the outgoing managers minimise the need to work with committees. New managers find it a rude shock to find that they have not ‘bought’ the complex and do not have control of their work environment.

They have to work within a committee system and budgets. The training is often woefully inadequate and people selling the businesses to new people often gloss over anything difficult.

I have been given a copy of an outline of a really comprehensive handover checklist that could be really useful. It has been compiled by an experienced resident manager. In dealing with the body corporate, the author of the checklist says it is important for managers to read previous committee and general meeting minutes; to find out if there is a petty cash position and if they have a spending limit. How they obtain permission to spend on urgent matters is important and how they put in budget submissions and suggestions.   

All of us have different personalities. We get along with people and with the world in slightly different ways. A few of us welcome new ideas and relish working with new people.
Many of us do not like change and resent change being forced onto us.

Many committees are determined to rein in costs, so presenting ideas and suggestions that are going to increase expense can be difficult to obtain support or permission to implement. Obtaining extra budgets for items like tree removal can be particularly difficult. Some people love greenery, others would prefer no trees at all. There are dangers galore for new people in vegetation matters.

You can inadvertently make enemies by spoiling a person’s outlook or by changing privacy for an individual window. So the best advice is to consult widely before changing anything.

Living in harmony in a closer community means people generally need to take time and effort to develop respect and rapport. It is only after time spent building relationships that resident managers are likely to have their suggestions for improvements or changes welcomed. This will be frustrating for new managers, particularly people with fresh ideas and enthusiasm and new people who would like their new homes to be more to their taste.

Understanding the body corporate systems and legislation is really useful. Workplace health and safety obligations are really important and have important ramifications for caretakers and committees as do pool safety fencing laws and asbestos and fire safety rules. New managers can work with the specific advice of outside consultants to implement needed changes and improvements.

Work with your complex’s health and safety consultants to get items removed or changed that you consider are dangerous. Even getting on top of pest control management and understanding and working with new pool equipment can be huge issues right at the start.

Reasonable committee members will understand that new managers won’t be instant experts at every task that their contracts require them to do. We committee people do expect that managers will want to be up to speed and competent quickly.

Reasonable committee people will help managers who are friendly to learn to do their roles.

A few committee people and a few owners may harbour frustrations about change and may resent helping new people fit in or help new managers with tasks

because they miss the old managers or because they think the outgoing managers should have spent more time on the handover or that it is not their role as a volunteer to train new managers.

However you should patiently explain that you do want to do your roles properly and professionally and with a minimum of fuss and bother for others. When you need help to learn to operate special tasks you should have a process that is formal and professional to be able to ask for training and to have a formal decision on how that training will and does happen.

New people who are thankful and respectful of existing systems and methods will develop rapport and support and will in time be able to implement new ideas and improve systems.

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