Beyond HOA Board Orientation: Five Subjects to Master

Posted on Wednesday February 14, 2018

Your continued education as a volunteer HOA board member is more critical than you think. Technology, laws and resident expectations are always changing. By equipping yourself with the latest knowledge to excel in your role, you can make better-informed decisions for your community, which can help improve the resident experience and ultimately build up your association’s reputation in the marketplace. A positive impression goes a long way and can help in establishing your community as the choice place to live, which can ultimately bolster property values. 

So how do you build on your existing knowledge and work toward being a better-functioning board and improved property values? Start by working with an experienced community management company. They can provide you and your community manager with local in-house training developed in conjunction with continual feedback from clients to make sure that needs are truly addressed. Your community management company should also offer training in various platforms to line up with board members’ schedules. These resources include in-person training, online programs, robust educational articles and white papers and access to industry experts. The question is, what are the subjects that will be most valuable to you and your association?

Subject #1: Your role and responsibilities
Whether you’re an association board member for a single-family home community in Tucson, a high-rise in Phoenix or a master-planned community in Scottsdale, you likely took a basic orientation class when you first joined. But that doesn’t mean you should stop learning about the standards and laws that apply to your role. Treat your role as a board member with the same professionalism and responsibility that you would give to your day-to-day job. As Kirk Kowieski, vice president of FirstService Residential in Arizona said, “Board members should view their role as serving the members of the community and not feeding their own personal agendas. From a practical standpoint, that means diving into their role with the motivation to learn and absorb as much as they can in order to improve their respective communities.” 

Subject #2: Association laws and regulations
Potential legal issues can become a big headache if you aren’t familiar with basic HOA laws and regulations. To gain a better understanding of HOA legal issues, first consult with your association’s general counsel. You can never replace your association’s general counsel in terms of the expertise and resources they offer. However, your community management company may also be able to provide you with resources and industry professionals that can help. The best community management companies have a team of individuals who stay up-to-date on the latest legislation and regulations and provide management team members and associations with specialized knowledge and education. 

Subject #3: Technology in your community
Technology changes on a dime. The software and communication tools you used in your association five years ago may not be relevant today. That’s why it’s especially important for board members and community managers to be trained on the latest digital tools and technologies in order to maintain relevance in their community. A great community management company will provide in-house software designed to work with all necessary association applications (as opposed to an off-the-shelf solution), complementary seminars and direct support when you need it. Due to the changing nature of technology and increase in cyber attacks, board members and community managers should also learn as much as they can about protecting sensitive association data. Check out our article on cyber security and white paper to learn more. 

Subject #4: Financials and budgeting
Every association member may learn the basics about HOA financials during their initial orientation, but it’s just as important to take a refresher course. While you don’t need to know the nitty-gritty details about all association financials, it’s important to have some familiarity with them. For financial topics in particular, your community management company should provide in-person training sessions so that you and your fellow board members can ask any questions and get a better understanding. FirstService Residential offers a number of resources, experts and ongoing courses on financials, including Budgeting and Financial Planning 101 and Understanding Your Reserve Fund. 

Subject #5: Communication and personalities
Finally, to be an effective board member or community manager, you should have a good emotional IQ. What does that look like? It involves establishing good relationships with residents and fellow board members by facilitating open communication and being a good listener. Association communication has its own set of unique challenges, so board members should consider taking courses or workshops created by a knowledgeable community management company. You may also want to expand your knowledge about your own personality through external educational opportunities like DiSC training. Learning how to communicate more effectively will leave a lasting impression on your community and may help you boost your association’s reputation in the marketplace. 

Knowledge is power, and that is especially the case when it comes to being a successful association board member. By partnering with a proactive community manager and responsive community management company and prioritizing education and training, you’ll likely develop better decision-making skills and strengthen your relationships with residents and board members alike. The result? A better resident experience, which overflows into your reputation in the marketplace and can lead to improved property values. 

FirstService Residential provides board members and community managers with flexible training sessions, seasoned industry experts and a range of educational resources that incorporate feedback from ongoing surveys to thousands of board members each year like NPS and communication with board members and community managers. These educational resources include in-person training seminars and roundtables, in-depth online classes through FirstService Residential’s proprietary e-Learning platform, BoardAdvantage, and helpful articles and digital resources

To learn more about board member and community manager education, contact FirstService Residential, Arizona’s leading community management company.

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