The care and feeding of a board member

By Openthedoor-man  | December 30, 2009 - 6:05AM

In my building, and most others I've heard about, there are two ways to get above-and-beyond service from the doorman and other staff: Tip well, or get elected to the board.

Board members definitely have advantages over the regular residents. They get jobs done for them faster than a regular resident, whether it's a minor touch up of some paint or plaster, or a bigger something like a plumbing problem. They have access to various parts of a building whenever they want. They may even have a set of keys for certain doors which only staff usually have.

And because board members are the eyes and ears of a building, and the middlemen (and women) to the management company, the staff usually feels like they have to agree with an idea imposed by a board and the management company for fear of not being considered a team player.

But just because we tend to give more service to board members, that's not to say all board members are created equal.

Here's the view from the lobby: 

The No-Nonsense Types: These individuals are very serious and get down to business. They're good for the building and usually hold onto their positions awhile. Usually staff and even residents alike will try and avoid this person at all costs, due to their brooding demeanor. They seem to always have the look of not wanting to be bothered, therefore left alone.

The Approachables: Like the name says, these board members are friendly and down to earth, and often interact more with the staff. That's how we get the lowdown on what could be happening around the building, and we pass it along to residents we feel cool sharing things with.

The Inspectors: These individuals do walk-throughs around the building like they're inspecting an Army barracks. They keep tabs on what's been taken care of and what's slipping, and they report back and raise questions at meetings. Usually we have to be on our toes with this person. Any hint of poor performance may result in a letter of warning from management. If quite a few of these letters pile up, the next step may involve a suspension or termination.

The Snoops: They're as nosy as the inspectors but they're mostly interested in the people of the building. They will try and catch up on any gossip involving residents. They linger on a floor or in the lobby to overhear conversations. They may look at names on packages and see where they're coming from. Staff tend to stop talking altogether when this person is around to avoid having something we say used against us.

There is one advantage that leans in our favor when dealing with the Snoops: We can always rat out a resident who isn't on our favorites list for something they've done wrong. This can be something simple like reminding someone to kindly recycle or the fact that a certain person may be renting illegaly, meaning without having gone through the board for permission. 

The I'm-Just-There's: These individuals are quiet, neither friend nor foe. They seem to be on the board because they have nothing better to do. They may only last for one term though. But as long as they are a part of the selected group, they too share its benefits. Meaning staff must go along with something they may ask of us.

One interesting thing about all these types: Being on the board can change someone's personality. Polite and quiet individuals become more vocal and inquisitive about things around the building, even if it pertains to something minor. "There is a stain on the floor over here".... "Why is that particular door always open?"...."Who is that person that just walked through the door?"

But the power and perks are for a limited time, even though some people act as if something special is owed to them because they were on the board. 

The reality is that when a person steps down from the board, they are basically back to normal when it comes to dealing with staff, except that how they acted as a board member can have an effect on how we treat them. 

As the saying goes, "Be nice to people on your way up, because you may meet them again"--every day, in the lobby--"on your way down."

Related links:

Yes, Virginia, we keep lists too

Stiffed again! Doorman blasts bad tippers

Doorman to resident: Your tip blows

Inside your doorman's brain

Another doorman spills it online

Twittering doorman tells all - one cranky moment at a time

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