Community divided over resident manager’s departure

RF writes:

Dear Paul: I live in a condo that has a live-in Resident Manager (RM). They have been here for three years. I have been advised by the Property Manager (PM) that the Resident Manager resigned. The PM advised that the RM gave almost two months notice that they are resigning. Last day will be October 17.

A few days ago, we received a letter from the RM under our door saying that they will miss working here but due to confidentially they cannot say why they left. This has caused a lot of confusion with the residents. Some really like them, and others are happy they are leaving. They can be seen walking around the property with long sad faces. They are trying to get some owners to call an SGM to remove the board. This is dividing the community and is causing the board to think about resigning. How do you think the Board should handle this?  Regards.

Paul replies:

Dear RF: I am sorry that the RM’s departure is causing such a major issue among owners. First, we need to be clear on who the employer is. If the employer is the Property Management Company (PM), then the matter is between the RM and the PM. Whenever an employee resigns, I am sure that the employer, the PM, may have been caught by surprise. Such a long notice of resignation is unusual but demonstrates that the RM does not want to leave the PM or the condo corporation in the lurch.  

The RM placing a letter under the door of each unit is both considerate and concerning. It is considerate because it is letting owners know that they will be leaving and there will be a change in the near future. It is concerning because the letter announcing their departure should come from the RM’s employer, the PM, and/or the board. The other issue that is concerning is that the RM stated that they could not say why they left due to confidentiality. It would have been much better to state that it was for personal reasons. Leaving it as they (the RM) did, creates a void that people need to fill. It is natural that when people do not have an answer, they will make one up. The made-up answer is usually wrong, but fuels the fire nevertheless.

From your message, it appears that the owners’ asking for a Special General Meeting are acting without knowing why the RM left or there has been a breach of confidentiality. Either way, it is not the ideal situation.

In my opinion, the board should draft a letter explaining that the RM is an employee of the PM, not the condo corporation. As such, the board has discussed the situation with the PM but cannot and should not interfere with the employer-employee relationship. For the PM to discuss personnel matters publicly would be a breach of privacy. In addition, the board should probably hold a town forum (not an SGM) to allow people to voice their concerns and clear the air. I would suggest that this meeting be chaired by a neutral party.

If the board resigns en masse, the community will be in greater turmoil. A new board will need to be elected and the community will still be divided. Board’s need to have broad shoulders and able to cope with criticism, even when it may not be deserved. The article in this link provides 4 Constructive Ways Leaders Can Handle Criticism

Best wishes!

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