By Beth Gilbert
Change can be scary. Whether your association is adopting new technologies, altering processes, or adding new leaders to your board, change can feel overwhelming and at times even uncomfortable for everyone involved — board members, homeowners, and association managers.
However, change can also bring new opportunities and efficiencies. Below I’ll detail some of the ways change can benefit your association, and provide some simple steps you can follow to address fears to help your association realize the true value of change.
Benefits of Change
When your association is able to see the benefits that come with change, they will be less wary and more flexible to try something new. Here are a few examples of some benefits that come with change in association management:
● Increased efficiency: There’s often always a better way to do things. For instance, if your association adopts new technologies, such as online payments, then homeowners, board members, and association managers can complete tasks faster and more efficiently because it removes the manual element of the process.
● Fresh ideas & energy: Along with new tools, new people can also bring a fresh perspective. This is especially true when it comes to a change in leadership on your association’s board. While some board members may be reluctant to switch things up, new members can better your community and bring forth inspiring ideas to enhance your association.
● New opportunities: Change often opens the door to new opportunities that may have otherwise not been accessible. For example, if you adopt new processes and tools, you may uncover opportunities such as the ability to get more work done faster and have more time to focus on higher-level initiatives, like customer experience.
4 Steps to Successfully Address Change at Your Association
Getting board members and homeowners onboard to support the changes that are occurring at your associations can be a challenge, but if you follow these four steps it can make all the difference.
1. Outline the benefits: Before you decide to make any major change within your association, whether you’re planning on switching to a new software or to go paperless to boost efficiency, you should first clearly outline the benefits for your homeowners and board members. This can be shared at association meetings and via email to ensure everyone is on the same page and is fully aware of why your association is doing this.
2. Gather feedback: After the benefits are made well-known, leave time or space for homeowners or board members to provide feedback before you make any changes, so they feel they are being heard and that you care about their opinion. An easy way to do this is to send out a digital survey or poll to homeowners and board members to get a pulse for how they’re feeling. Within the survey you should also leave space for them to air any grievances or leave any questions, so you can have a chance to respond and pacify any concerns.
3. Emphasize the value with every change: Once you’ve outlined the benefits, gathered their feedback, and made the change, it’s important to continually remind homeowners and board members of the value the change is bringing and how it will continue to benefit their community. Some simple ways to do this are to share the time or money savings with board members and homeowners that resulted from the change, send out a monthly newsletter of any updates, or to gather input from others to showcase how the change has positively impacted their lives. The more value you can demonstrate, the more likely homeowners and board members will be happy with the transition for the long term.
4. Lead by example: Change management is a full-time job and requires you to be dedicated to the cause. You need to show board members and homeowners you care about their wellbeing and are truly invested in the betterment of the community. If you’re not 100% sure about any given change, then don’t facilitate it until you are. Take the time to listen and do legwork to make sure the transition is a good move for the association overall.
Helping homeowners and board members overcome their fear of change can be difficult and may take a little convincing. By clearly addressing the benefits, listening to their feedback, emphasizing the value every step of the way, and leading by example you can change the conversation and outlook for the future of your community. If you’re currently trying to convince homeowners and board members to switch to new software or adopt modern tools, I recommend you take a look at this guide.
Beth Gilbert is the Sr. Director of the Community Association market at AppFolio. Beth brings over 15 years of product experience to AppFolio and is currently responsible for developing the vision and strategy for the community association market. She is passionate about building relationships with customers to learn about new ways to partner in the success of their businesses.