Board meetings should be productive, efficient meetings where the board conducts business. Are your board meetings productive and efficient? Does the board meet to conduct business or socialize? Are you getting the most out of your meetings?
Consider doing a few of these things:
Prepare a Realistic Agenda. Five page agendas with 50 objectives set out may be impressive but they are unrealistic and counter-productive. You need to set a list of priorities for each meeting and focus on those issues. If you have 50 issues you want to address, spread them out over the course of the year. You will be more efficient and see better results if you are able to manage your agenda.
Set an end time to your meetings. Meetings should last no more than an hour. Start the meeting when it is scheduled to begin and get straight to business. If you collectively have the focus to get done in an hour you’ll be amazed with how much you can accomplish. If you have no time limit, the meeting will typically drag on and a lot of time will be wasted. When time is wasted at a meeting then people are less likely to volunteer because they feel their time is wasted. One hour meetings have a major impact on volunteers. Associations that hold focused, one hour meetings have more people volunteer. It’s also important to note that those volunteers stay active the in the community for much longer. Length of your board meetings may seem like a trivial matter, but it really does have a large impact on how the volunteers of the association view the organization and, in turn, how they view their role.
Be familiar with the Covenants and Bylaws. 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 guidance on your role as a board member, your fiduciary responsibility, specific board responsibilities from decision-making to administrative tasks, and how to conduct and participate in board meetings. Other vital information will include how to avoid personal liability, professional conduct at meetings, parliamentary procedures, the operating and reserve budgets, federal, state and local laws that impact your community, and appropriate insurance coverage.
Come prepared. Be familiar with the issues that will be addressed at the meeting. If you have questions, ask them prior to the meeting so that your manager (if professionally managed) can have ample time to find the answers. This will help the meeting be more effective and brief. 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.
Make the meeting a time for action. Next, hold action oriented HOA board meetings. Don’t just discuss issues, make decisions. Every item up for discussion should end in a vote to move forward in some way or table the issue with a clear understanding of why the item is being tabled and when it will be revisited. When taking action on an item make sure it is clear who will be responsible for getting that task completed. Ambiguity cripples a board.
Don’t be confrontational. 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 that 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.
Treat your Community Manager with Respect. Your community manager is 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 expertise based on their experience, training and education to ensure that the board doesn’t 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.
Be a Team Player. If you recognize that, as a board member, you are part of a team of volunteers 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 for years to come.
Be determined to have one of the best HOA’s in Atlanta by having an HOA management company that focuses on helping you have effective meetings.