Habit #7: “Sharpen the Saw”

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R. Covey talks about the “upward spiral” model that results from growth, change and constant improvement. The Upward Spiral model consists of three parts:

  1. Learn

  2. Commit

  3. Do

According to Covey, one must be continuously educating the conscience in order to grow and develop on the upward spiral.

Shareholders and boards often come to accept mediocrity. It is in human nature to resist change. However, most if not all of the best organizations are committed to embracing change.



There are plenty of resources available for Co-op Boards to educate themselves. Nationally (and internationally), there is the Community Association Institute (CAI) with over 60 US chapters devoted to providing “education and resources to the volunteer homeowners who govern community associations.”

 In New York, there are associations like the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC) which holds educational seminars during the year as well as its annual full-day Housing Conference and Expo every November which is jam-packed with educational seminars and networking opportunities consisting of industry professionals, vendors and other board members. 

There are also industry-specific publications like the New York-based Habitat Magazine and The Cooperator. The latter also operates in a few other geographical areas such as Chicago, IL, Florida, New Jersey and Boston, MA and it also holds annual industry conferences with free admission for all board members.

For smaller self-managed buildings and property owners, LandlordsNY provides online resources and twice a year holds full-day conferences focused on industry education. 


Commit & Do

With today’s technology, change is easier than ever. Most associations run the way they were run decades ago. Embracing change with the help of current available systems is critical in getting your association into shape. Some examples are:

  • Service contracts are seldom reviewed or renegotiated by the managing agent unless they are expiring or have already expired. Historically, there was no single service that could assist boards with this and they relied solely on their managing agent or they did it themselves. Today, we pioneered to provide this service on a shared savings basis.

  • All elective costs should be reviewed and checked. We have yet to see an association that collected the correct amounts for elective costs and services! Just because your managing agent has always performed certain tasks doesn’t mean that this is best (or even good) practice.

  • Payroll automation is an area that can free up time and improve accuracy. Does the resident manager do payroll manually? Does he fill out a form and messenger it over? Does it get lost? Not only is all of this time consuming and susceptible to mistakes, but when something like payroll gets delayed, it’s disruptive to the staff and bad for morale. Nowadays, there are integrated systems where the time clock is incorporated within the payroll system so that as long as the staff clocks in and out, they will automatically be paid. This reduces the workload on the super and the managing agent, creates lower messenger costs and improves accuracy.

If you don’t know where to start, give us a call today!