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5 Strategic Ways to Deliver Bad News to The Owners — A Guide

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5 Minute Read
Posted by Katie Vaughan on Apr 21, 2021 9:45:00 AM

Delivering bad news is difficult. This is why successful HOA Board Members will go to any length to ensure the news is delivered in a way that minimizes conflict and frustration. As a board member, it's normal to feel ambivalence when delivering bad news. 

Reasons A Board Would Need to Deliver Bad News. 

One of the significant roles of a board is to enact and enforce rules, regulations as well as policies that enhance or maintain the health, well-being and safety of a homeowner's association (HOA). Nevertheless, as a board member, it's inevitable that at some point, you'll have to announce bad news to your unit-owners or shareholders. Bad news messages include capital projects that have fallen behind schedule, circumstances like mold remediation that might temporarily displace residents and parking lot resurfacing, leading to limited parking for some days. Other types of bad news include: 

  • Increased dues
  • Temporal or permanent closing of an amenity
  • Adjustments of rental rates

AdobeStock_306446891How to Deliver Bad News as Best as Possible 

1. Be Credible 

Make sure that your sentiments and words are believable. Ensure that the message is consistent with the values of the association. Regardless of the type of bad news that you want to share, make sure that the resident's welfare comes first. To build trust, bad news should be shared as quickly as possible

2. Determine The Right Place And Time 

People feel frustrated and disappointed when they are kept in the dark. Make sure that you set up a time to talk to homeowners and active participants in the community. Instead of springing the bad news, determine a setting and context for the conversation. 

3. Start The Conversation By Giving People A Warning 

Let the members know about the main agenda of the meeting in advance. This will brace them for the bad news. Through an e-mail or in-person, let everyone know about when and where the meeting will take place. Tell them what you will be discussing. Don't explain the news in detail at this level and avoid giving people false reassurance. 

4. Be Ready

When you are delivering bad news, ensure that you choose your words carefully. Deliver the message confidently. Be honest, and don't say anything that you can't validate, as this can create distrust.

If the main cause of the crisis is clear, say it. If you are not sure of the cause of the crisis, don't speculate. Whether the cause comes from outside or inside the association, you should try to explain the connection. If the cause comes from within, ensure that you don't blame anybody. It is essential to inform people how the crisis occurred and what the board is doing to fix it. 

Tell members the specific actions that are being taken to resolve the issue. People need to know that something is being done to rectify the problem. Discuss the obstacles and challenges that the board is facing when resolving the problem. When preparing to deliver bad news, remember that people want to know about the problem and how it affects them. 

5. Be Empathetic And Give People Hope

Don't tell people that you know exactly how they feel. Instead, say something like, "I know that these changes will be painful and difficult." You can also share your feelings. Your message should be caring and credible. Do not give people fake promises that you may not be able to keep in the future. The members need hope now more than ever. Therefore, assure them that their contributions are appreciated and their work has meaning. 

In a nutshell, being able to deliver bad news, respectfully and gracefully is one of the major pillars of a good property management board. When people ask you questions, it's okay to tell them you don't know or say that you know but cannot tell due to confidential reasons. The main purpose of communication is to build trust with the members.

For professional and reliable association management services, contact us today. 

Katie Vaughan

Katie Vaughan

Expert in HOA Management Companies and Association Board Member responsibilities.