Each condominium corporation is unique, made up of different types of buildings and groups of people with diverse experiences, priorities and goals. Just as communities differ so do the committees that are created within them to manage special projects.
Whether your committee experiences have been excellent or less than ideal, there are a things a board can do to make sure the committees they engage are focused, productive and positive forces in the community.
Without proper planning a committee will be ineffective. As with the community as a whole, committees are a combination of personalities and perspectives. Rather than being detrimental, these differences can be beneficial if the committee has the proper structure and effective guidelines. When these are in place, committees are an important support to the board. A good property management company will help guide the board and their committees to success.
Follow these five steps to create effective committees.
- Decide what type of committee is needed.
Generally speaking, there are two types of committees: Permanent (or standing) and temporary (or ad hoc). Permanent committees focus on tasks that are ongoing. These responsibilities may include things such as maintenance, security, finance and budget, or bylaws. Temporary committees typically look after short-term projects such as landscape improvements, community events or creating a pet policy. Given recent disasters in Alberta, your board may also want to consider forming a committee to create an emergency preparedness plan for your residents. Most committees function as advisors to the board, but some may have the authority to act on behalf of the board. Your bylaws may dictate what type of committees can be formed and the powers they possess. Your property management company can also help you decide which type of committees will be most beneficial for your specific condo corporation.
- The right people are key.
People are the most important element of any committee. Not everyone has what it takes to be an effective participant. On the other hand, sometimes people who don’t think they have anything to contribute turn out to be fantastic members. The most important qualities in those who have the time to serve, is commitment to solving the issue at hand, a reasonable outlook and skills or knowledge to contribute. For example, an accountant may seem like a good fit for the finance and budget committee, but if the demands of his or her career mean an inability to commit the time required, this person will likely not be a successful choice. Often new residents have a lot to contribute as committee members because they see things from a different point of view. Committee involvement is also a great way for them to become involved in the community. Regardless of who comprises the committee, it should be made up of three to nine members; using an odd number helps prevent tie votes. All members must recognize that the needs of the community, not their individual desires, have to be the focus when decisions are made by a committee.
- Select the committee chair with care.
It is important to carefully consider who it the right person to chair your committee. You want someone who has all the great qualities you need in a committee member, but the chair also must possess additional leadership ability. You are not looking for an authoritarian leader but rather one who can guide the group in open, respectful dialogue that results in positive decision-making that best benefits the community as a whole. The chair must conduct professional meetings according to an agenda he or she has created and hold the committee to it. Creating and following an agenda ensures the meeting stays on topic and respects the time of the participants. Your property manager will be able to help you during the selection of this important member of your committee.
- Minimize stress.
Volunteer committee members are giving up their free time for the good of the community. It is important for the board to respect their time and help them achieve success. Your property management company can guide you with proven strategies to maximize committee effectiveness, but here are some more to consider: Number one, help the committee set meeting dates and times that are suitable for all. The inability to accommodate the group will doom the committee to failure. Additionally, as a board, provide clear objectives that can be measured, but don’t overload them with items. Be reasonable and fair, outlining specific timelines for the task at hand. Set achievable goals that can be accomplished in the time you require, and be clear about the end result expected and how it will help the entire community.
- Communication and then communicate some more.
A good property management company will be able to help establish clear lines of communication between committee members and from the committee to the board. Committee meeting minutes, that note action items and the member responsible, should be delivered to each board member. Once a report to the board is drafted, all committee members should review it before it is submitted. The board should only ask committees to complete tasks whose objectives align with the community’s best interests in mind. If specific expectations are outlined and clear feedback is provided, the probability of committee success is much higher.
When committees are effective, they give those who serve on them the knowledge they have done something worthwhile for their community. Count on your property management company help you achieve success with your committees. FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company, can help. Contact us