How to Have More Productive Council Meetings: Getting Your Strata Council Members to Work Together

Posted on Tuesday May 06, 2014

Communities that hire property management companies often have an advantage when it comes to improving the flow and productivity of their Council meetings. Do you have a partnership with a property management company but still feel frustrated by your Council meetings? Read on to find out what your residential property management company could do to help. You can also find some helpful tips that you can employ to ensure you have a productive and professional environment at your next council meeting.

Division between Council Members
Council Members can sometimes become divided on an issue and it may seem impossible to reconcile them.  “When dealing with people’s homes it easily become personal.” it was noted by Darren Sello, a Strata Manager with 10 years of experience.
When disputes occur – and they will – you can offer up a neutral position to try to control the atmosphere and get everyone back on the same page. If you have a professional property management company, your Strata Manager should operate as a third-party during any disputes and help negotiate between disagreeing parties. The best property management professionals are experienced and should be able to make recommendations and offer expertise without taking sides.
The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil
It's not always clear whether an issue is a legitimate one or if someone is simply complaining for the sake of complaining.
If you've found that a single member is controlling the discussion, it may be time to suggest that a mediator or your Strata Manager step in. This unbiased person should note that the Member’s comments have been recorded and encourage the group to move on to the next item on the agenda. Everyone should be given time to discuss legitimate issues with the board, but it's also important that no single person dominate the entire meeting.

Getting Down to Business
"The Council meeting turned into a social hour!” is often a concern raised by Council Members after a meeting. It can be difficult to ensure that your Council Members stay on topic. Many of them know each other socially and treat meetings as a time to get together and talk about the news of the day. Of course, enforcing this sense of camaraderie can make the meetings run a lot smoother, but it's important to keep the group on task.
Solution? Set a clear agenda, circulate it, and stick to it. Having clear objectives set for the meeting in advance will help ensure that everyone knows which topics need to be addressed – and which do not. If you have a property management company, they can create this agenda for you and send it to the Council Members a week ahead of time giving everyone enough time to come prepared. Most importantly, your Strata Manager can chair the meeting and ensure that the meeting stays on task. When the meeting veers off track, your Strata Manager will deftly guide Council Members back to the topic up for discussion.

Getting Everyone to Work Together

To really get the most out of a Council Meeting, everyone needs to be on the same page and work towards the same goals. While all Council Members may not always agree with each other, it is healthy to see different viewpoints and perspectives. "Effective Strata Councils set policies on day-to-day recurring issues and then instruct management to execute them," is advice given by Gerry McRobert, a Regional Director, at FirstService Residential BC. This would allow for more productive Council meetings where the discussions would be about short and long term strategy, important projects and policies and the more challenging decisions, which often require more time and energy.
A directives list, along with the next steps and deadlines should be set at the end of every Council Meeting. If you are partnered with a property management company, the objective would be for the Council to agree upon the most important policies, and the management company would implement and help to enforce the new policies. Having the right Strata Manager by your side at the meeting, reviewing all these action items directly with the Council, will inspire confidence and increase Council unity. Most importantly, it will allow you and your Council to focus on your own personal business after the meeting, while someone else takes the responsibility for actually implementing all the changes discussed.
To get the most out of your Council meetings, it's important to have the right property management company as your partner – one that will actively collaborate with you, help keep Council Members on task, guide you in making well-informed decisions about improvements to your property, and responsibly implement the decisions once they have been made.
If you feel you are not receiving the best service from your property management company, or if you are self-managing and feel you could use a hand, contact FirstService Residential today by filling out a request for proposal.

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