Common Mistakes Condo Board Members Make (and How to Avoid Them!)
It’s true that we probably learn best from our own mistakes. However, as a condo board member, you probably would prefer to avoid mistakes entirely that could adversely affect your community. After all, you’ve chosen to volunteer your time and provide leadership in order to enhance your residents’ lifestyle, protect the condo corporation’s investments and improve your community. So how can you avoid the kinds of mistakes other condo board members have made?
An experienced community manager can provide plenty of insight on what not to do as a board member. These professionals have worked with many different types of condo board members and can clue you in on the mistakes they have witnessed. In this article, we discuss four of the most common of these mistakes and offer recommendations to help you avoid making the same ones.
Mistake #1: Becoming power hungry
Some condo board members seem to thrive on power. As a result, they make decisions independently and disregard the need for board approval. For example, they might negotiate with a vendor, discuss a legal issue with a condo owner or tell landscapers or other staff what to do without consulting with the other board members. Not only does this violate their bylaws, it can also create liability issues for the entire condo corporation.
Remember that your role as a board member is to put the common interest of your community ahead of your own interests, and this is best done when your board functions as a unit. Do not make unilateral decisions that you are not authorized to make. Instead, discuss important issues with the other board members, and look to your bylaws for guidance on how and when to bring a decision up for a vote.
Mistake #2: Getting impatient
Board members who have served for a long time may find that they deal with the same types of problems repeatedly. The condo owner raising the issue may be different, but the situation isn’t. Understandably, it can be frustrating to address the same thing over and over again. However, taking out your frustration on someone who simply needs your help is not productive.
Keep in mind that to the resident, this issue is legitimate, new and personal. Shift your perspective slightly so that you can see the situation as an opportunity to help a concerned neighbor rather than as just another variation of the same old problem. A good condominium management company can also help you address any ongoing situations so that you won’t have to keep revisiting them.
Mistake #3: Neglecting to explain a “no” vote
When a board member votes “no” on a measure without providing an explanation, the other board members may interpret that vote negatively. For example, they may attribute the dissent to inflexibility, defiance or disrespect.
You can avoid misperceptions by explaining your “no” vote. Without taking too much time, elaborate on your concerns and your view of the condo corporation’s future. Your intention should not be to change anyone’s mind; you are simply enabling the other board members to understand your perspective.
Make it a regular part of your meetings to have a discussion period following a “no” vote—even if you only allot a very short amount of time to it—and urge dissenters to use it. Encouraging discussion of diverse viewpoints creates an atmosphere of openness, prevents misunderstandings and helps you have more effective board meetings.
Mistake #4: Holding a grudge
There will inevitably be times when a board member is unhappy with a decision that the condo board makes. Although no one expects that member to jump for joy, being a sore loser is both inappropriate and unproductive. Still, there are board members who will hold a grudge, display outright resentment or refuse to support a measure that they opposed. At its worst, this behavior can lead to dysfunction within the board.
As a board member, you have a responsibility to support the majority decision, even if you voted “no” on a particular motion. You made your views known during the discussion period, and now it is time to be a team player. If you find that a decision has created conflict among board members, seek assistance from your condo management company, if you are working with one. Your community manager can be instrumental in helping your condo board resolve its conflicts by providing an unbiased, third-party perspective.
Avoid these common mistakes, and you’ll be in a better position to focus on achieving the objectives you’ve been elected to accomplish. For more insights into effective board leadership, contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading condominium management company.