Sometimes, HOA Management Means Dealing with “Kenergy”

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When someone moves into the “Mojo Dojo Casa House” of their dreams, they might not appreciate everything HOA management accomplishes on their behalf.

Anyone who’s seen the movie Barbie will recognize the name of Ken’s house. In the movie, Ken (Ryan Gosling) causes sweeping and unappreciated changes to a neighborhood that had been harmonious until he moved in and shook things up.

At heart, a homeowners association is about creating an environment where everyone can feel at home. The rules are designed and enforced with an eye toward making the neighborhood a pleasant place to live—some might call it a “Dreamland.”

However, every HOA management team has had to deal with people who don’t appreciate making small sacrifices for the greater good.

In Barbie terms, they unleash their “Kenergy” onto the neighborhood. If not dealt with properly, it has the potential to invite discord, pitting neighbor against neighbor.

HOAs exist, in part, to minimize neighborly confrontations. That’s because they work from a clear set of rules and have processes to deal with disagreements that arise.

Some residents are as sweet as the day is long while others want what they want exactly when they want it. By recognizing that “Kenergy” exists in the real world, you become better prepared for potential problems before they happen.

Types of “Kenergy”

It’s important to note that the term “Kenergy” was inspired by a male character, but when it comes to working and playing well with others, anyone can be guilty. For HOA volunteers, “Kenergy” isn’t so much about gender as it is about personality. 

So, what personality types can a HOA board member be unlucky to encounter? Difficult traits include:

  • Callousness is a lack of empathy or concern for the feelings and well-being of others. 
  • Grandiosity is an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance, abilities, or achievements.
  • Aggressiveness is a tendency to behave in a forceful, hostile, or confrontational manner.
  • Suspicion is characterized by a tendency to distrust the motives or intentions of others.
  • Manipulativeness involves using subtle or cunning tactics to influence or control others for personal gain.
  • Dominance is a desire or tendency to control or lead in social situations.
  • Risk-taking is a willingness to engage in activities or make decisions that carry a significant potential for adverse consequences.

These traits exist on a spectrum, so you won’t have to ride the dragon whenever you deal with someone who breaks the rules.

However, some people do have short tempers. Others aren’t very communicative and tend to ignore warnings. There also are people who believe in their hearts that they have the right—and responsibility—to party all the time. 

No matter what negative traits someone brings to the neighborhood, they signed on the dotted line to follow the association’s rules and bylaws. If their behavior causes strife, it’s up to HOA management to step in and resolve the conflict as quickly and professionally as possible.

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Tools You Can Use

On the positive side, board members have a variety of tools to help them enforce the rules and defuse the “Kenergy” in most situations. It might seem obvious, but start with the community’s founding documents:

  • covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs)
  • bylaws
  • rules and regulations

Every resident agrees in principle to the rules that govern your homeowners association. Even if they didn’t read every line, they signed legal documents affirming that they did. 

With right on the management team’s side, there’s no need to escalate situations. Think of your favorite fictional lawyer—the good-guy kind, not the bad-guy kind—who believes that the same rules should apply equally to everyone.

We’re playing around with the idea of “Kenergy,” but the truth is we’re talking about your neighbors. A calm and professional approach will go a long way toward diffusing most situations. Don’t try to match “Kenergy” with “Kenergy,” and make sure your approach doesn’t amplify the issue: 

  • Discussing a problem isn’t the same as assigning blame.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt.
  • Address issues early.
  • Focus on the issues, not people.
  • Talk directly to the neighbor in question.
  • Be sure to listen.
  • Step away and come back later if things get heated.

These are what psychologists call “soft skills,” approaches designed to help people get along with each other.

To increase the odds of a good outcome, consider augmenting soft skills with software. The right HOA management software can provide a variety of benefits, including reducing opportunities for friction:

  • Communication can include as many or as few people as needed.
  • Dues and fines can be paid online.
  • Notifications of violations can be sent promptly.
  • Requests for maintenance are archived, so nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Files and documents are easily searchable. 
  • Every member of the community can have instant access to the neighborhood’s founding documents and their relevant passages.

The Barbie Way to HOA Management

Apparently, pop culture hasn’t embraced the term “Barbenergy,” so we’ll stick with the Barbie Way. After Ken takes over her neighborhood and transforms her “Dreamhouse” into his “Mojo Dojo Casa House,” Barbie (Margot Robbie) and her friends work together to reestablish order.

However, her first step is to simply ask Ken to stop what he’s doing. This doesn’t work in the movie, but when trying to change behavior, it’s wise to offer gentle reminders and warnings before taking stronger action.

During the process of solving an issue, you have the right to be assertive and set boundaries if the other person gets rude. It’s OK to say, “Please don’t talk to me that way,” especially if you follow the same rule.

If difficulties persist, it might require using mediation or arbitration to deal with the problem. The Mattel CEO (Will Ferrell) doesn’t exactly mediate the dispute in Barbie, but he, Gloria (America Ferrera), and Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) provide outsider perspectives that help put the issue in a different light.

The Barbie Way is also a forgiving way. In the movie, she has to admit that, though he took things to a ridiculous level, Ken has good points in his favor. Barbie acknowledges the issues and agrees to make some changes.

Most importantly, in true Barbie fashion, she makes sure there are no grudges. At the end of the movie, order is restored and the Ken who caused all the trouble drops his “Kenergy” and realizes he’s “Kenenough.”

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Dreamland Harmony in Your HOA

Positive engagement is the lifeblood of almost any organization. Your HOA management team will be well-served to take active steps to include everyone in neighborhood activities to create a true sense of community among residents.

PayHOA management software makes it easy to spread the word about upcoming events with texts, emails, and printed mailers. You can also use PayHOA to create post-event surveys, so people can suggest how events can be improved or request other types of gatherings. 

By creating multiple opportunities for engagement, residents have opportunities to become neighbors and friends, making them more likely to work together for everyone’s benefit.

However, if “Kenergy” does crop up in your neighborhood, it’s important to deal with each issue in evenhanded ways so that everyone is held to the same standards.

PayHOA makes it simple to send notifications and warnings as soon as an issue arises. The software also allows residents to pay their dues online, so they can “set it and forget it,” getting rid of a common HOA pain point and sidestepping potential problems.

All HOAs have the potential to create their own “Dreamland” energy. Harmony is possible as long as volunteers take their jobs seriously while also having fun along the way. Try our 30-day free trial today and see how PayHOA software can help make it happen!

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