Now that you’re a newly elected member of your condominium corporation’s board, you’re probably feeling a lot of things: pride, excitement...and maybe some confusion.
That’s to be understood. You’re entering a unique role – one where you must act as the fiscal steward of the corporation, while also remembering that you’re a neighbour and friend.
Well, it turns out the most neighborly thing you can do is to be effective as a board member. To help you do so, here are some helpful hints.
- Put the community ahead of yourself.
As part of the condominium board, it’s time to let your personal agenda go. In fact, those who seek to further their personal goals ahead of those of the condominium corporation are guilty of conflict of interest. So keep your focus where it should be – even if it means your personal interests need to take a back seat.
- Consider your property manager a member of the team.
You and your community manager have vastly different roles. Yours is to create policies and make decisions about those policies. Your property manager is there to enforce your policies and oversee general operations. So even if you have personal or work experience as a property manager, once you’re on the board you must play that role and that role only. The best board managers let their property managers do their work, with their full support.
- Remember the other board members are also your neighbours and friends.
This one’s really all about respect. Passions can run high during board meetings, so it’s important not to let situations devolve into hostility or animosity. Remember that you’re all here for a common cause – the good of the community – and maintain a respectful tone accordingly (even in the face of disagreement).
- Take advantage of educational resources.
Living in a townhome or condo doesn’t necessarily make you an expert on the lifestyle. A good board member will seek out information on how to grow in his or her role. That includes going to seminars, reading books and networking with other people who sit on the boards of their condo corporations. It also helps to talk to city officials and police – they’ll know a lot about your community and will have important outside insight.
- Fulfill your duties responsibly.
As part of the board, you’ll be given certain responsibilities. You may be in charge of the budget. You might be tasked with preparing the agenda. Or it may be your job to distribute materials for discussion ahead of time so your fellow board members can formulate thoughts and opinions prior to the meeting. No matter what your job ends up being, make sure you approach it with the same sense of responsibility you would your main vocation.
- Don’t procrastinate.
Remember, you’re in a leadership position, but it’s one where you lead through service. So if a member of your condo corporation comes to you with an issue, handle it right away. Procrastinating or putting it off telegraphs the message that you don’t care, and that’s never good.
- Consider the value of a professional property manager.
Being part of a condo board is a big job, with a lot of moving parts. Hiring a community manager can help. They have the experience, expertise and perspective to not only help you with the big issues, but also to help you put systems and procedures in place to aid with the day-to-day matters, too. If you already have a property management company in place, ask yourself if they’re doing all they can, and if you are truly satisfied with the value they’re bringing to the table.
Just because community members aren’t attending every meeting doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be informed. Your board membership should be marked by an attitude of transparency and inclusion. To that end, be sure to keep community members updated on board activity through newsletters, emails and other communications.
- Plan a community activity.
No matter how long you’ve lived in your condominium or townhome, there are residents out there you’ve yet to meet. Hold a fundraiser, a food drive or a special event so you can get to know some unfamiliar faces. In the process, you’ll build the kind of community spirit that is essential to a well-run condominium corporation.
- Lead by example.
The rules apply to you – perhaps more strictly than they do to anyone else. Maintain your property. Follow rules on parking and pets. Live by noise ordinances. And most of all, be a good neighbor who’s always there for your fellow residents. Beyond your position on the board, these small actions can go a long way toward creating harmony in your community.
Though board membership isn’t always easy, it can be highly rewarding. Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to a successful tenure. And for more advice, or to inquire about residential community association management services, contact FirstService Residential