Managing Conflict in Condominiums

Conflict is an inescapable part of life, and it will occur in our role as Condominium Managers more often than many of us would like. Being proficient in conflict management is therefore an essential skill for any Condominium Manager to possess.

As Condominium Managers we must strive to maintain our professionalism when dealing with various stakeholders. There will be people that we would rather not deal with but have too. Disagreements, even arguments, will occur in any relationship, and knowing how to react appropriately in the heat of the moment goes a long way towards establishing and maintaining credibility as a professional.

Here are some commonly used conflict management styles:

  • Withdrawing or avoiding involves retreating from an actual or potential conflict situation. It doesn’t resolve the conflict.
  • Smoothing or accommodation emphasizes areas of agreement rather than areas of difference. It provides a short-term solution by appeasing the other party.
  • Compromising searches for and bargains for solutions that bring some degree of satisfaction to all parties with no definitive resolution.
  • Forcing involves pushing one view point at the expense of others resulting in a win-lose solution. This approach may result in hard feelings that come back in other forms.
  • Collaborating incorporates multiple viewpoints and differing perspectives which lead to a consensus and a commitment for each party involved. This will provide a long-term resolution to the situation.
  • Confronting or problem-solving treats conflict as a problem to be solved by examining alternatives. It requires a certain give-and-take attitude along with open dialogue. This approach most often results in ultimate resolution to the conflict.

Condominium Managers that are proficient in conflict management may use many of these conflict management styles as the situation dictates.

The ability to anticipate and adapt our approach to a source of conflict is a critical factor in our overall success.

Here are some common sources of conflict Condominium Managers face:

  • Priorities or goal incompatibility – Goal setting should be clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders.
  • Administrative procedures – Condominium governing documents establish responsibly and accountability. Conflict arises when stakeholders are not familiar with these documents or there is ambiguity or contradiction within the documents.
  • Scheduling conflicts – Proper Planning well in advance reduces this occurrence. Using tools such as annual calendars to map out known events will reduce the likelihood of this type of conflict.
  • Costs & budget overruns – Budgets are set well in advance with predicted costs based on historical data as well as known increases in each category. Conflict arises when incorrect data is used, unrealistic expectations of costs control assumed, or unplanned costs occur.
  • Communication – Acknowledgement that the message has been received in a timely fashion, along with an expected time frame for when a detailed response will be forthcoming are essential to effective communication. This approach builds trust and reduces frustrations.
  • Personality clashes – It is inevitable that personalities will clash at some point. Our clients live where we work. This is a fairly unique situation in the service sector. Our relationships with these clients can last decades. Tools for dealing with this conflict include effective communication, active listening, maintaining professionalism and being Honest.

Craig McMillan, RCM, ACCI, CMCA, CAPM is Vice President of Operations at Maple Ridge Community Management