Serving on the HOA Board: It’s About Team Building and Leadership
Whether you are a newly elected board member or one who has served for several years, you should come to the table with an open mind and a desire to build consensus. Being a board member means that you are part of a team of volunteers who have decided, for whatever reason, that they want to be a part of the decision-making process for their community.
You may offer a special talent or have specific expertise that can benefit the community. Serving on the board may help you gain experience that enhances your career goals or you simply have the time and want to help in any way you can. Maybe you were recruited by a neighbor, committee members or even your management company. What now? The most important reason to serve on the board, in my opinion, is for the betterment of the community for you, your family and your neighbors.
Key elements with which board members should familiarize themselves are the association’s governing documents that define the board’s authority. If you have a management company, they should provide you with a Board Member Handbook which will describe your role as a board member, your fiduciary responsibility, specific board responsibilities from decision-making to administrative tasks, and how to conduct board meetings. Other vital information will include professional conduct at meetings, parliamentary procedure, the operating budget, and appropriate insurance coverage, as well as how to avoid personal liability.
Armed with the above information, it’s important to come to all meetings prepared. Read the management report in advance of the meetings. If you have questions, ask them prior to the meeting so that your manager can have ample time to find the answers. This will help the meeting time be more effective. There is nothing more frustrating to those attending the meeting than for fellow board members to come unprepared and want to discuss issues at great length.
The management report and agenda should provide ample information so that decisions can be made in an effective and timely manner. Both volunteers and staff alike can suffer burn out from meetings that extend beyond two hours. Remember that the board meeting is a business meeting of the association. You are there to conduct the business and should come prepared just as you would at any other business meeting.
Board members should recognize they are part of a team and not take a confrontational position with fellow board members or their management company. No one should have to work or conduct business in a hostile environment. Realize at times you will not always agree, but take the position that even disagreement can bring compromise and consensus. Be concise with your opinion and thoughts and then be sure to listen to others. Always be respectful of your fellow board members and staff, as well as the homeowners. The tone of the board can set the tone of the community. So, if you want to have a healthy, vibrant and successful community, you should reflect that image as a board member.
It’s also important to understand the role of your management company, if applicable. They serve as your agent, not your employee. They act on behalf of the board and facilitate the decisions of the board. Remember that they are professionals and should be treated as such. It can be detrimental to a board and its community to consistently be at odds with their management company. They are there to offer their best expertise based on their experience, training and education to ensure that the board members do not compromise their fiduciary responsibility. A board should trust and rely on their management company’s vast experience and unlimited resources. If your board has lost trust in the management company, have a frank discussion with the company’s CEO regarding whatever problems exist. Perhaps a different manager can restore your trust, eliminating the need to start all over with a new company.
If you recognize that, as a board member, you are part of a team of volunteers, committees, and management experts, you will be rewarded when you use those resources to make decisions that are based on sound business judgment. This, in turn, will inspire others to serve and build a team of future leaders who will want to emulate your leadership. By doing so. you will find serving on the board is not a burdensome chore, but a rewarding experience that you will value.
Published by: Sherry Harvey, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®
|Reprinted with permission of Association Times|