HOA management (BOD) is more than property management (CAM)

I continue to be baffled as to how real estate attorneys and property managers, unlicensed in most states, have been allowed by state legislatures to advise and dictate to HOA boards (BOD) on how to govern a community by an Association that  is very similar to a local government body.  Governing a community is more than managing a property in a subdivision.   

 Many other experts and authorities have attempted to explain this complex concept of “what is management”  — including the renowned Peter F. Drucker. (The Practice of Management and Management). My take is a simple, down-to-earth explanation as part of “Reorienting the BOD and its followers,” the first step in A Plan Toward the Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance. 

Management (noun) – Management is an entity — an organization whether a business, a nonprofit, an HOA, a charity, a club, a group, or a person. It applies to any person, or organization, or entity at all levels with respect to its level of authority and responsibilities — CEO, president, division director, department manager, supervisor, or committee chair. The difference in organizational type is related to their purpose and mission. Businesses  are to make a profit for their stockholders. Nonprofit membership organizations, like HOAs,  have a mission or goal as  laid out by the founders and initial directors that is designed to attract and maintain members — for $$$$$  — who identify with the mission.

Management (function) —  Management is a practice (as first described by Drucker in 1973). It’s an actual application by practitioners/managers — whatever the designation: manager, governor, administrator, board of directors, trustee, etc. — of the set of beliefs, principles, and values held by the organization. The quality and success of the management function is measured by its performance in attaining its mission, objectives, and goals. They may set by its constitution, charter, bylaws, Declaration of CC&Rs, or by department/section/committee descriptions.

Executive level management — at the state legislature through its lawmaking authority or at HOA board of directors level — has final and total responsibility for the successful performance of the organization and sets the mission, goals, conduct and operation of the entity. It has the duty to 1) set policy, plans, rules, regulations, controls, procedures, etc., and 2) organize and structure the entity. All in keeping with its powers under the legal documents and laws granting it the authority to so act.

The very first task for the BOD is to determine just what is the purpose of the entity, and what should it be. Once this reason for being has been determined and stated in terms that permit the evaluation of performance, a valid mission statement can be issued.  From the mission statement a single goal  or set of goals can be issued that permit a measurement of the entity’s performance.  Value statements can be adopted to guide the BOD and members with respect to acceptable means and methods for achieving the goals.

A mission  statement has to be operational; otherwise it’s just good intentions. A mission statement has to focus on what the institution really tries to do.” (Managing the Nonprofit Organization, Peter Drucker, 1990).

The mission statement by the HOA Management Case Study #1 subject, SCG for example, speaks  in the present tense using the word “IS,” making it more of a propaganda statement — it already exists or has already been accomplished — rather than a condition, an ideal,  to be achieved.  Consequently, SCG’s mission serves no value for the establishment of goals that can measure performance, leaving the HOA essentially without any direction.

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Cautionary note:

Management when it fails to abide by the authorizing documents and marketing materials that appeal to the wants, desires, and wishes of the members will result in members exiting  the organization, taking their future member donations, dues, fees, etc. with them. With businesses, except small, closely held businesses, exiting is a simple task of selling one’s stock and buying another.

HOAs are more like a small, closely held businesses where exiting is not a simple task primarily due to the need to find some other private buyer (investor) willing to ignore why you are leaving. The status and situation of members can be viewed as a form of indentured servitude: you can’t leave unless you have  money to leave (like having paid off your servitude obligation), or you die.

Consequently, management in membership nonprofit organizations, like local governments, must keep the members happy.  Any changes or  modifications to the purpose, or mission, or goals of the organization must consider  the effect on the members.  And must follow the law and the controlling documents – the CC&Rs in HOAs.  The BOD is not a free agent to do as  it pleases as if the HOA were its own private club.