How to be a Good Association Board Member

Association Board Members Act on Behalf of the Homeowners

There are many reasons why homeowners serve on their board of directors – personal agendas, ego, civic duties, or peer pressure. No matter the reason, serving on the board is not something to be taken lightly.

Board members need to pay attention and be willing to make hard decisions. When you agreed to serve on the board of directors, you accepted certain elements of responsibilities in addition to a commitment of time and accountability to your association.

Board members act on behalf of the homeowners so you will want to be the best board member possible because while a smoothly functioning board can be nirvana, a dysfunctional, nit-picking, and micro-managing board can be an association’s worst nightmare. In order to have a successful, productive board, you must first see the big picture.

You can do this by adhering to the following guidelines:

  1. Create a mission statement. By doing this, the board establishes the goals and priorities for your association. The association’s governing documents are the key to writing your mission statement by ensuring that you do not exceed the stated purpose of the association.
  2. Know your governing documents. Association documents set limits and restrictions while spelling out the purposes and powers of the board, the owners and the association. They also define the fundamental characteristics and general structure of the organization.
  3. Be prepared for your board meetings. Since most of the decisions made by directors are at board meetings, the meeting should be carefully planned and facilitated. Reading the agendas and material in the meeting packet before the meeting will help you make decisions in a timely fashion without wasting time. Being prepared allows the board to have efficient, quick and productive board meetings.
  4. Be professional. Behave at your board meeting as you would at any other business meeting. Remember, you are running a corporation or an entity that may be responsible for millions of dollars in assets as well as the property values of every home or unit.
  5. Eliminate personal agendas. You have a fiduciary responsibility to every single owner in the community as well as to the association itself. You must act in good faith and with a reasonable degree of care, and you must not have any conflicts of interest.
  6. Keep confidential information confidential. Board members must never use information obtained through their position for personal gain and you must always act in the best interest of the association.
  7. Think before you act. Make sure that you have a good understanding of all sides in a dispute or controversy so that the board can ensure a fair resolution. Make sure that there is an environment in which board members and homeowners feel they can express their opinions candidly and be heard with open minds.
  8. Set policy – what needs to be done, not how to do it. A good board of directors does not participate in the day-to-day operations of the association. Instead, they set overall policy, based on their mission statement. Management and staff implement those policies.
  9. Participate in ongoing orientation and training. Board training conveys the knowledge and understanding needed in order to be effective as a leader in your community.
  10. Listen to the professionals. Good board members don’t go wandering off on their own. They obtain information and direction from insurance, legal, management, and other experts to guide them on the right path.
  11. Ensure equality. In order to be fair and consistent, board members must not discriminate against anyone or use “selective enforcement” when it comes to upholding the association’s governing documents.

A successful board constantly evaluates itself and seeks ways to improve its effectiveness. It reviews the organization’s mission statement annually and re-energizes itself. People can learn to be good leaders and board members, and that effort often requires introspection. Ask yourself “Am I a good leader?” If you are – great! Keep learning and improving! If your answer is “no”, follow the steps above to become an effective and reasonable board member for your association.

Published by: Stephanie Benham CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®

Reprinted with permission of Association Times