How to Avoid Community Association Manager Burnout

Posted by Jeremy van der Heiden on October 15, 2015

How to avoid Community Association Management burnout

One of the worst aspects of working in the same position for a long period of time is burnout. It can quietly linger and then explode into a crescendo of disruption for any organization, regardless of size or industry. As management companies struggle to stay profitable, increased portfolio sizes and added work on manager's shoulders is leading to that 'overwhelmed and under-appreciated' feeling. Another contributing factor is the rapid transition of the workforce itself. More and more Baby boomers are leaving the workforce for retirement, and millennials now comprise the largest share of the employee landscape. Each generation couldn't be more varied in their professional preferences, expectations and desires. This leads to a need for changes in the way you do staff management and engagement to keep employees happy in their positions. 

Employee engagement has been a prominent issue in the business world for years now, as staff churn and an increasingly weighty talent gap are holding organizations back from strong profit margins and operational performances. It is not all that difficult to identify when an employee is not engaged, but it is a challenge to do anything about it. Many firms have already seen this for themselves given the rising turnover rates. 

Burnout is a Threat

According to a study hosted by PLOS One, "Burnout occurs when professionals use ineffective coping strategies to try to protect themselves from work-related stress. The dimensions of ‘overload’, ‘lack of development’ and ‘neglect’, belonging to the ‘frenetic’, ‘under-challenged’ and ‘worn-out’ subtypes, respectively, comprise a brief typological definition of burnout."

Community association management professionals cited burnout as one of the challenges facing their industry today in a recent survey. Property Manager burnout is a threat to operational continuity. You know the potential dangers: loss of clients due to mismanagement, loss of clients due to the manager taking the community with them when they leave your firm, or even fraud. Management companies need to take proactive steps to ensure that their key workforce members are not falling by the wayside. 

Let's look at a few of the ways you can deter manager burnout in your organization. 

Communication

When burnout begins to take hold, leaders need to identify the issue more quickly should they hope to mitigate the potential damages that will follow. Burnout and problems with engagement can be likened to an injury that leaves the victim with internal bleeding - they can be difficult to recognize at first, but will undoubtedly fester and cause much more destruction as time goes on.

This is why communication between the ranks must be heightened to avoid the prospect of manager burnout, with heads of the firm looking to constantly collaborate with managers and more quickly identify issues as they arise.

Surveys, especially those that are kept anonymous, can also be used to rapidly bring underlying problems to light and better understand the steps that will be needed to quell the dilemmas at hand. 

Recognition

Employee recognition programs have boomed of late because of the positive impact they have on engagement and retention. Simply put, leaders in the CAM industry will need to expand these programs out to cover their point players, working to ensure that managers are not only satisfied with their current standing in the company, but also feel appreciated and valuable. 

Recognition programs do not need to cost all that much, nor do they demand a heavy amount of oversight, as automated and software-based options are now readily available on the market to streamline the various processes involved. You can also look to outsourced solution providers to get the job done.

When in doubt, even a simple personal touch such as a thank you note to let your team know you see what they are doing and you appreciate it can go a long way.

Empowerment

Community Association Managers will want a bit more empowerment and can be driven by opportunities to gain more control over their area of the business. In that same vein, managers who hit a ceiling and are granted no prospect of progressing professionally and within the company will be far more likely to experience burnout and begin looking for a job elsewhere. 

As such, everything from training and development to advancement opportunities should be included in strategies that are focused on preventing or eradicating manager burnout.

You should ensure that their managers have all the tools and support necessary to navigate their responsibilities and tasks on a daily basis. Failure to do so could further complicate the matters over time. CAM software can be a great way to avoid manager burnout in this regard, as automated tools that reduce manual, repetitive tasks have been shown to have a positive impact on staff engagement across the board. 

Good Works

Another way you can improve engagement is provide a positive experience to let the manager feel like they are contributing to society in some way. This can be particularly effective for millennials, who often feel a strong sense of pride in doing good works. Some management companies have been known to take on Habitat for Humanity associations free for the first year as a way to give back to the larger community.

Higher Pay

The most common incentive offered by businesses is money. However, recent studies have shown that money is actually the least effective incentive. If your employees are underpaid, raising their pay to a competitive salary is important. Beyond that, a smart way to use money to increase engagement is to provide a defined path to improvement, and a bonus track.

An improvement path document shows employees (in writing) what steps they need to take in order to move to the next salary/responsibility level, such as pursuing certifications or taking on a certain level of responsibilities.

A bonus track should be measurable, and based on attainable actions that go above and beyond the employee's job description. For example, a manager who can earn a bonus based on reaching profit levels for a community is incentivized to search for cost saving measures and profitable endeavors. Such action is good for the client, it's good for the management company, and through the bonus incentive, it's good for the manager as well.

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