Be a Better Board: 6 Tips for Improving Meeting Dynamics

Posted on Friday January 26, 2018

Not everyone you meet is exactly like you. Attend any HOA board meeting, and you’ll know this is the case. Each board member and resident is unique and has different viewpoints, backgrounds and preferences when it comes to your community. And while having a diverse group of opinions and perspectives on your board can be a great thing, it can also lead to challenges and conflicts that can manifest in board meetings.
One of the ways you can build better relationships and hold successful board meetings is to partner with an experienced and knowledgeable community management company. They can help you develop a solid vision and give you the tools and resources to succeed as a group. The result is a more unified HOA board, which can ultimately boost engagement and enhance your community’s reputation and relevance in the broader market.

To begin setting you and your community up for success, here are 6 tips to improve meeting dynamics:
  1. Prepare, prepare, prepareBefore your meeting even begins, make sure that you’ve reviewed the agenda. A responsive and accessible community management company will provide the resources you need to prepare mentally and assess the topics ahead of time. For example, FirstService Residential’s policy is to send out a board packet about five days before a board meeting. The packet may include an agenda, suggested motions, answers to common questions and other important information. To see some additional best practices for board meetings, fill out the form on this page to download our free guide, “Six Principles for a Better Board Meeting.”
  2. Keep it professionalIt’s great to be passionate about your community, but don’t turn board meetings into a platform for personal agendas. Treat your position on the board as you would any job, keeping board meetings productive and professional. Make sure the agenda is mapped out ahead of time and your fellow board members know the basic structure and procedures involved, such as making and seconding motions. Work with a community management company to provide you with the training you need to tackle interpersonal issues and communicate effectively.
  3. Keep meetings shortNo one wants to be in a long meeting. And in the case of a board meeting, the longer the meeting goes, the more likely decision-making quality will suffer. As a best practice, try to keep the meeting from around 45 minutes to an hour. By working with a community manager who has the resources and necessary support to plan the agenda ahead of time and keep the discussion professional (see points above), you’ll be able to keep the meeting concise and purposeful.
  4. Create a no-venting zoneVenting can quickly change the tone of your meeting from professional to personal and can often take precious time away from the agenda. To help mitigate venting, it is a good idea to have some limitations surrounding each topic and speaker. For instance, some best practices to implement may be that no one can speak on a topic for more than three minutes, and the topic must also be on the agenda. A knowledgeable and well-trained community manager is adept at facilitating and enforcing these best practices.
  5. Adhere to a basic code of conductAll board meeting attendees should follow a basic code of conduct (outlined in your governing documents) to ensure a respectful and courteous environment. As mentioned previously, a board meeting should maintain a professional tone, as all business meetings require. This code of conduct should include basic rules like time limitations on speaking, who can attend and speak at meetings and members’ right to record meetings. If you don’t have a code of conduct and need one, a knowledgeable community management company can help you develop one for your board and enforce it.
  6. Listen, listen, listenWhen it comes to managing board and resident relationships, a listening ear goes a long way. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel heard and valued. That means when you are at a board meeting, you should give everyone who is speaking your full attention. Actively listen to what each speaker is saying and respond with a summary of what they just said. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with each speaker, but you need to offer them a listening ear.

Following these easy tips can help your board function more effectively and unite toward a common goal of improving the community. By working to implement the best practices described above with an experienced community management company and community manager, you’ll be well on your way to smoother, more productive board meetings. These practices can help build your HOA board’s reputation, boost your community’s relevance in a changing market and positively affect property values.

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Want additional information on board and community dynamics? Fill out the form to download your complimentary guide, “Six Principles for a Better Board Meeting