Staying Connected: Communication Best Practices for Board Members
Communications Best Practice Guide
While your property manager is equipped to handle communications between the board and building residents, board members often prefer to take ownership of day-to-day communications. To help streamline your messaging, begin by creating a communication plan that includes a robust schedule of content, roles and responsibilities, the most accessible communication channels and a consensus on what is most important to your residents.
These four components of a successful communication plan will help your board create and deliver effective messaging throughout the year.
1. Establish a process that helps the board stay organized.Planning your message with fellow board members and your property manager from the get-go will save time and keep the process efficient. Each message should focus on a single topic and be as brief as possible based on residents’ current understanding of the topic.
What message do we need to communicate? What is the purpose of the message?
Set your priorities. As board members, you naturally want to inform residents about everything that affects them. Do your best to strike a balance between conveying all necessary items and overloading your messages.
Fact-check your messages. Rushed communication can result in disseminating inaccurate messages. Make sure all the information being sent to residents has been double-checked for accuracy.
Be transparent. Open communication establishes trust, encourages participation and helps facilitate compliance. However, some boards are guarded about sharing certain information because they fear a negative response from residents or potential litigation. Even if you need to communicate bad news, be honest about the process that led the board to its decision and how it will ultimately benefit the building. If your message pertains to a sensitive topic or a legal matter, always consult your building counsel for feedback and review.
When should we send the message?
Communicate regularly. Your residents and fellow board members will appreciate a steady flow of information. Without it, voids can be filled with misinformation and rumors.
Make communication a two-way street. It’s important to give your residents the sense that the board is interested, engaged and tapped into their concerns about the property and their lifestyle expectations. Surveys are an easy tool to directly engage your residents and will quickly reveal hot topics, pain points and trending opinions.
2. Choosing the Proper ChannelsKnowing what, when and how to use the proper communication channels ensures your messages will reach as many residents as possible.
“People have different preferences in how they receive communications,” says FirstService Residential Executive Vice President Stephen Hirsch. “If the goal is to get information into the hands of boards and residents, you should use every available method.”
Popular channels include email, your resident portal, social media pages, resident newsletters, text messages, phone calls, flyers and bulletin boards or virtual conferencing tools.
Best Practices for Efficient Communication
Use email as a default. Email provides a universal way to track information and is the most commonly available communication channel. Sending information digitally is an excellent way to follow threads of information, track who has received information and elicit feedback from residents and board members.
Regularly update your resident portal. The FirstService Residential Connect portal is a proprietary tool that helps boards keep residents informed about policy changes, emergency protocols, general updates and upcoming events or activities from any device on-the-go or at home.
Use a mass communication tool. Mass communication refers to the wide-ranging dissemination of messaging to a targeted audience. A centralized system enables your board or your property manager to easily provide important information via text message, email and recorded voice message. This type of communication tool is especially vital in the event of an emergency.
Use social media wisely. In some cases, social media can be a good place to announce certain building events, meetings or maintenance plans. To help facilitate neighborly dialogue among users, be sure to monitor your page closely and establish a social media policy. Do not rely on social media pages to relay critical or potentially sensitive notices or updates.
Take the time to learn available communication tools. If there are channels you know you will use, but you’re not sure if other board members or the residents know how to use them, a short training session may be necessary.
3. Assigning Roles for Your Communication PlanDesignating roles for the communication plan ensures there is no overlap in efforts, and that nothing gets overlooked. It also provides clarity on the responsibilities of the property manager and each board member.
How to Assign Specific Roles
By Task – Identify and assign roles based on communication type. This may include newsletters, emails, website, phone calls or text messages.
By Topic – Appoint roles by subject matter. Emergency preparedness, financial matters, property enhancements or repairs, building events and activities are all relevant topics to consider.
By Skillset – Consider the individual talents of your board members when you assign specific roles such as writer, designer, editor and social media moderator.
4. Adequate Support from Your Property Management CompanyYour property management company should be able to facilitate the creation and distribution of resident communications. Before any information is shared, the board should provide explicit consent and approval to the managing agent. The board should never be surprised that a property manager communicated to your residents without your knowledge. Board buy-in and consent should always be a pre-requisite when communicating with building residents.
Best practices a good property management company should exercise to ensure effective communication throughout your property:
- An online self-service platform to make it easy for board members to conduct building business and obtain information at their convenience
- A welcome packet for new residents that includes building rules and regulations, contact information and other important details specific to your property
- Tutorials for using the online platform to communicate with the property manager and the board
- Proactive communication of new laws and policy changes that could impact your building
- Requests for feedback on services provided to facilitate a harmonious management experience
- Training to help new board members transition into a leadership role
FirstService Residential’s 360 Degrees of SupportThere’s no doubt that communication plays a major role in how well your board operates. FirstService Residential maintains a robust portfolio of communication tools that help board members plan, create and distribute effective messaging. Utilizing these tools continuously will help keep board business on track and your residents up-to-date.
We also understand that effective communication can be a challenge for board members.
Download our comprehensive communication guide for even more recommendations on how to keep your residents and board members connected and informed!
If you need help putting together an effective communication program, contact FirstService Residential today.