Rules Are Rules

 14Jul08 New pix

(Image Credit: Google Images –

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A CONSULTING PROJECT HAD US WORKING IN A RESIDENTIAL COOPERATIVE COMMUNITY with extremely limited vehicle parking. A handful of dwelling units had two parking spaces while the remainder had one. On good days parking was chaotic.

Although the purpose of our consulting mission did not initially include parking issues, the community manager, who had been hired a couple of months earlier, asked us to review the situation to learn if there may be a way to mitigate the problem. He explained haphazard parking interfered with emergency responder access and caused frequent neighbor disputes caused by guests and residents indiscriminately parking on internal roadways and using parking spaces assigned to other units.

Studying the matter we not only found the co-op rules specifically prohibited the ongoing parking turmoil but also found sufficient room on either side of the community entrance driveway to accommodate a parking field for guests and excess vehicles that would ease the situation. Accordingly, having the co-op seek municipal authorization to construct such a parking field was our recommendation.

It was then we were informed of the manager’s secondary, and perhaps true, concern. Seems a few influential folks on the co-op’s committees were pressuring the recently hired manager to ignore the parking violations of their household members and guests, yet those committee people wanted rules enforced against all others.

Under the circumstances the manager felt he was in a “no win” situation. If rules are executed against everyone, as they should be, the influential folks would be angry; but if he imposed the rules as requested, it would be arbitrary and selective enforcement. Wanting to keep his new job he wasn’t sure what path to follow ― it seemed a form of mental gridlock expressed through his failure to act, even though he knew inaction might expose the co-op to municipal code violations, among other things. He quietly asked us what he should do.

A quick examination of his employment contract made plain his responsibility to enforce all the board’s rules against all violators. So we sat him down and dispensed a brief primer, explaining that although he must treat everyone with courtesy and respect, in the proper performance of his job as manager he would not make everyone happy at all times. We stressed his job is to uniformly apply and fairly implement the rules upon each violator regardless of his/ her office in the cooperative. The board of directors expects its rules to be enforced and pays him to do so.

He understood then inquired: What about those committee members? We told him to inform them his job is to enforce the legal rules the directors adopt. If those rules are incorrect or improper they should request their board to modify them. Otherwise, as long as they are legal and comply with cooperative documents, he has no choice but to enforce them as they exist.

Happily, that manager kept his job. After all, rules are rules.


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