9 Ways to Foster Enhanced Communications on Your Community Board
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Your role as a board member involves a lot of communicating. Whether it’s speaking with a fellow director or drafting an email that will be sent out to residents, you may be looking to learn or refine some communication skills. Board member communication doesn't have to be difficult, you just need to know the basics.
Fostering effective interpersonal board communication practices is a valuable proficiency. It helps you build relationships, clearly express your thoughts and ultimately drive results. And you’ll avoid miscommunication, errors and general frustration.
It isn’t enough to just fill a board position to ensure your community is a well-functioning one. Almost everything a board does requires strong interpersonal skills and communicating well with each other tops the list.
The most high-functioning boards we have partnered with regularly put into practice the following nine board member communication techniques:
1. Listen actively
Active listening skills take practice for all of us. Hearing what’s communicated regardless of how the message is delivered is important and will help you focus on community business.
Active listening means:
Focusing intently to what is said or written regardless of your colleague’s communication style
Avoiding distraction by personal agendas
Appreciating each board member’s right to express themselves
Creating a respectful and safe environment where everyone is heard
2. Be objective
Objectivity is one of the most beneficial interpersonal skills you can have as a board member. Consider all points of view and focus on community benefits before arriving at a decision. While it’s sometimes a challenge, avoid personal agendas so they don’t get in the way of a decision that’s best for the whole community.
3. Speak strategically
Strong verbal skills are priceless and putting the following suggestions into practice will help you and your fellow board members increase productivity with ease.
Redirect – When responding to information, encourage other board members to help you answer questions or provide additional comments.
Paraphrase – Restate what someone has said to confirm you understood correctly.
Participation – Make sure everyone has a chance to offer their views by asking if those who haven’t spoken up would like to add anything.
Perspective – Encourage problem-solving, new perspectives, and viewpoints by asking questions from both sides of the issue. Trying to look through multiple lenses is helpful, and you can do so by asking the following questions:
Are there other ideas or opinions we haven’t discussed?
Have we overlooked any ideas regarding this issue?
Why are we doing it this way?
Is there another way we can adopt that makes more sense?
What can we agree is most important for this issue?
4. Highlight communication strengths
As we all know, people have different communication styles and strengths. Some board members will be brief and concise while others are more thorough. You will have good writers, public speakers, or social media influencers on your team that you can encourage to help communicate multiple and diverse messages.
Let each other’s communication skills shine to improve engagement, create closer collaboration, and forge exceptional board member relationships.
5. Be proactive and prepared
You can resolve issues by taking the time to get informed through information gathering. Avoid counter productivity by practicing proactive versus reactive responses.
Save time and effort by preparing yourself in advance and putting yourself in a position to critically analyze situations and communicate ideas more efficiently.
Responding appropriately to any situation requires a thorough understanding of the issue at hand, whether it’s through on or offline research, consulting with your property management company or committee, and attending regular board meetings.
6. Patience, patience, patience!
It’s tough to be patient when faced with a pressing issue, however, learning how and why things work the way they do in your community will save time in the end.
New board members require a solid working knowledge of local, provincial, and federal laws that impact both residents and board members. Not to mention your community’s bylaws as well as understanding how your property management company works is a lot to absorb. For these reasons it’s important to exercise patience with yourself and your fellow board members. In time, you’ll be well prepared to respond to residents’ requests and concerns as a cohesive unit. If you are new to the board, you can always lean on more seasoned members for assistance as you learn the ins and outs of your community.
7. Understanding your role in board member communication
Acknowledging that your community is a business entity requiring efficient management is one of the most important elements of quality board member communication.
Empower yourself to act by taking time to understand your community’s bylaws as well as local, provincial, and federal laws.
More enhanced understanding of these areas will help you manage your expectations in certain scenarios and inspire others to act. When you are appropriately informed and prepared, you can also ensure you're not derailed from taking the most effective action.
8. Set deadlines for decisions
Setting deadlines for decisions so a vote on the course of action can occur helps board members move forward together. By clearly outlining timeframes and target dates, your projects will remain on track.
9. Document requests
Documenting your requests in writing prior to a board meeting helps solicit input from board members. This practice gives your fellow members time to weigh their responses and functions as a tangible reminder that their input is needed.
Clear board member communication leads to a more effective board and a stronger community
Many people take on a board member role with good intentions, eager to volunteer their time for a worthy cause. However, not all new board members fully understand the expectations of their role and it can take time for them to adjust.
Improving board member communication skills will go a long way toward creating and maintaining a thriving community — with less work.
For additional guidance to help foster better communication within your board, contact FirstService Residential Alberta. You can also download our guide on developing effective communication.