5 Ways to Stop Disagreements from Taking Over Your Board Meetings
One of the most challenging aspects of being on a condo board can be running board meetings. It’s not always easy to keep everyone focused on the business at hand. In addition, you have to manage the inevitable disagreements and sometimes even rein in domineering or difficult board members. Sometimes you may wonder how you’ll ever get anything accomplished!
If you are working with a condominium management company, you’ll want to have your community manager present at your meetings. Managers have the experience and knowledge to help keep your meetings running smoothly. The following five guidelines can also help you run an effective meeting.
1. Set your agenda and keep to it.
It’s important to develop an agenda and to distribute it to everyone in advance of your meeting. By letting board members and other attendees know what you will be covering, you can prevent the meeting from going off topic or becoming a time for socializing. It’s great to include some social time, of course, but this should occur after you have covered all your board business and have adjourned your meeting.
Staying on track when others attempt to steer the meeting in a different direction can be challenging. Adherence to the agenda will keep the discussion moving forward and help everyone focus on the objectives. If the meeting does begin to go off course, the community manager has the experience to bring board members back to the appropriate discussion.
2. Get all your board members to agree on goals.
You and your board members may not always agree on implementation, but you should at least be on the same page about what the most important goals should be. This enables you to have more productive board meetings that are focused on strategy, critical projects, policies and complex issues requiring extra time and energy.
Differences of opinion are bound to happen. However, if a disagreement between board members looks like it is beginning to escalate, it’s important to manage the dispute so you can quickly return to the business at hand. "I've seen many board meetings go sideways really fast," says Kathryn Henricksen, vice president of community management at FirstService Residential. "You may have a really comfortable setting and then all of a sudden a nightmare happens."
No matter where you stand on the disagreement, you need to stay neutral. If you have a community manager at your meeting, rely on this person to help disagreeing parties meet in the middle. An experienced management professional can also offer valuable expertise without taking sides.
Sometimes an especially verbal or loud board member can make an issue appear more important than it is. You may even find that some residents get on the board just so they can complain about a particular issue. If such a person starts to derail the meeting, try to regain control by explaining that the member’s comments have been recorded and then urging the board to continue with the next agenda item.
If the same person does this repeatedly at meetings, you may need to involve a mediator or ask your community manager to play that role. Although you want to give everyone time to discuss their issues, it is not productive when one person continually dominates a meeting.
All of your board meetings should end with a list of what needs to be done, who is accountable for each item and when each item needs to be completed. If you are working with a condominium management company, your community manager will be responsible for following up on many of the action items. Have the manager attend your meeting so he or she understands exactly what is required. In addition, this person can help ensure that none of your action items is overlooked.
A productive meeting is the key to keeping your condominium community operating effectively. If you need help keeping your board focused and on task during meetings, find out how a condo management company can help. Contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading condominium management company.