Director says three models being considered, board to evaluate existing staff
Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(March 7, 2019) In looking to find their third Ocean Pines general manager in four years, association board members may pursue a nontraditional approach in attempt to alleviate some prior mistakes.
John Bailey, the most recent general manager, served from September 2017 until last month. Brett Hill, the interim general manager from August 2016 until September 2017, and Bob Thompson, who served as GM for six years until August 2016, preceded Bailey.
As Director Ted Moroney sees it, the association must look for a new model.
“I believe OPA must examine the type of organization we have evolved into over the last 50 years,” he said. “The Eastern Shore is no longer a sleepy enclave east of the bay bridge. We are subject to all the regulations, demands, politics and legal ramifications of towns, cities and other municipal organizations. Therefore, we need to carefully look not only at the face of the association, but at the structure.
“In my opinion, there are three potential solutions to OPA leadership,” Moroney continued. “First, outsource management. By that I am not advocating the entire operation, but seeking a professional manager through one of the outsourcing firms. Second, the traditional HOA manager. Third, a hybrid by setting a revised internal structure based on the knowledge we have and hiring a leader/manager to oversee the organization, or alternatively adding a third (missing) piece to the present management team.”
Moroney said he leans toward option three, for several reasons.
“We are signed with Northstar [as a financial software solution], we know full professional management is more expensive than internal management, and there is some question as to whether we could simply have a third party provide us leadership,” he said. “They make their money based on a variety of services and add-on efforts, not the cost of a manager. Worth exploring? Yes. Possible? Not sure.
“I am against repeating the process of simply looking for a qualified HOA manager,” Moroney continued. “We are more complicated than most HOA’s and more a municipality with full blown public works, and fire and police functions. Add in the politics and I am not sure repeating the past in search for the one person who does it all makes sense – I don’t think that person exists.”
The “hybrid” approach, according to Moroney, would amount to “structuring the association to delegate responsibilities and authority within the organization, building both depth in leadership, eliminating a bottleneck that everything must go to the top to get done and back down to be implemented, and running more like a business than a traditional HOA.”
“Going forward, I would like to give the transitional operating team an opportunity to organize, delegate and hold accountable our staff,” he said. “To date, we are seeing excellent results as long-standing problems and issues are being addressed and, in most instances, solved at department head level. As one director commented, we have untapped abilities and resources that are just now showing their abilities.”
Moroney added, “For all the talk of operational assessment, that is what is happening right now,” and the existing team of employees “is moving, stepping up and driving forward.” The board, meanwhile, is observing this and evaluating whether or not that model and the current set of players within it could work.
“It is my hope that in the next few weeks we will sit down with the key team members and get their operational assessment, what areas of weakness we have, what isn’t getting done and where we can improve,” he said. “All of that together will assist us in defining the traits, abilities and background necessary to fill the voids in OPA management.
“We need to get started on the process,” Moroney continued. “I believe, based on what I have seen to date, that we are handling operations well and because of that, the process for replacing, outsourcing or supplementing the team should be deliberative and inclusive if we expect to have any certainty of success. We have the luxury of operating efficiently as we move forward, so there is no need to make hasty decisions.”