Saturday, December 1, 2007

Communication - A Two-Way Street

E-mail readers, click "Communication - A Two-Way Street" title above for the full article.

I've had several conversations with people lately regarding changes to our gated entry system and proposed revisions to the CC&Rs. The upshot of all of those conversations is that there is a lot of confusion. So I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts regarding communication. I'd be interested in what you all think.

Of all the things we do as an association, communication is one of the most critical. Proper communication can make a difficult task easier - just as lack of communication can torpedo a project, possibly for the wrong reasons.

As I said in the title, communication is a two-way street. In the one direction, we have the board of directions/association management. There may sometimes be a temptation to limit communication there, for the more people know, the more varied opinions get expressed. Homeowners who show up once for the "issue of the day" have no idea about the background of the matter, and that takes a lot of the board's time away from other pressing matters.

But sooner or later, the homeowners will speak up, so I believe it's important to communicate to them up front and often. It's a lot easier to defend an action when you can cite a trail of communication. Most homeowners still have little understanding of the entry gate system replacement, including the justification for doing so, the current status of the project, and how residents can grant access to guests. The board may feel that it has communicated this adequately, but that perception is not shared equally. It's time for an update.

I have witnessed a conscious effort from the board to inform homeowners. I received a flyer via US mail regarding the special meeting of the board to discuss proposed CC&R changes. I also was informed via e-mail when the date of the regular November meeting of the board needed to be changed. These are very positive actions, and we can only benefit further through more of them - a beefed-up e-mail notification list, regularly updated website, revived newsletter, and additional mailings would all help in this regard. Homeowners shouldn't be able to cite lack of notification as an excuse.

And on that note, the other direction of our two-way street involves the duties of the homeowners. We homeowners have a responsibility to remain aware - and to attend meetings if we are not getting communication in other ways. The board should provide multiple opportunities for participation on major issues, but should not have to accommodate the homeowner who waits until the 11th hour to object. If you have feedback, make sure the board knows it. A brief but well-written letter or e-mail to the board and management can go a long way. Many times, the input is very much appreciated by the board, who are volunteers and have busy lives like the rest of us. The more information they have available to them in a timely manner, the better decisions they can make on behalf of us all.

What do you think we can all do to improve communication here? Seabridge Journal is intended to be a piece of the solution, but it cannot stand alone. We also benefit from proactive, repeated communication from the board, and from consistent homeowner participation. I'm looking forward to your ideas in comments below.

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Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't feel that the Board has been upfront and forthcoming with all information that impacts all of us. I don't know how one gets on the email list of notification, but I was NOT notified about the change of meeting, and I would like to have attended. I was one of the folks who submitted the info on my cars' storage and I did include my EMAIL address on that paper.
I also was left in lurch when I had guests coming to my home and I told them to press 118, which rings my home phone. SURPRISE!! That number is no longer valid. I found out by going to the gate directory and finding out my NEW number. When were we told that we would have new code numbers?????? Did I miss something here?? I don't recall receiving information on WHY we were getting a new system or when it would happen or how we were to now use it.

ON the otherhand, I commend the Communications Committee for their efforts in keeping us informed, along with TODD PELKY who takes the time to fill us in on the happenings around Seabridge.

Todd said...

I think your comment raises a good point. The board has a great information resource in terms of the e-mail addresses provided during the entry gate registration process and could be using it well in this case for updates. This is the list that should be used for any communication via e-mail (though that should not substitute for snail mail as well). It might also be best for the management company to maintain the list and distribute e-mails, since they tend to outlast individual board members and that will provide consistency and continuity.