Association Management 101: Best Practices for Board Members

Posted on Tuesday May 24, 2016 |




So what does it mean to be a board member? It’s a unique role that requires wearing a lot of hats – friend, neighbor, leader, and fiscal steward. Juggling these roles and responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming. But that’s okay – we’re here to help.
 
Though there’s a lot that goes into great board leadership, we’ve boiled it down to ten quick tips to help you fulfill your responsibilities effectively. Let’s take a look.
 
1.    Be selfless.
Now that you’re on the board, it’s time to leave your personal interests behind. Sure, you have a vested interest in making a more vibrant master planned community or creating a better high-rise lifestyle, but if you’re harboring any kind of specific agenda that will benefit you personally, then board membership isn’t the place for it. Your role is to create a great place to live for residents and to protect property values. Operating free from a personal agenda will help build trust between you and your fellow residents. For more on how you can create a happy community, visit one of our previous articles here.
 
2.    Respect your community association manager.
You, your community manager and property management company make a great team. So accord them the respect they deserve. They’ll work hard to enact and enforce the policies you put in place, and they can do so more effectively when their role is clearly defined. Even if you’ve worked in community management in the past, it’s important to remember that your current responsibilities of setting policies and making policy decisions come first.
 
3.    Stay neighborly.
It‘s no secret that debates among board members can sometimes become heated or contentious. That’s to be expected. The trick is to maintain an air of neighborly collegiality throughout the process. Remember, no matter how much you disagree, you and your fellow board members are still neighbors. Sore feelings and animosity only make your board less effective, so keep it friendly.
 
4.    Try to know more.
Growing as a board member is great for effective association management. Take seminars. Read books. Gain insight from fellow board members at other owners associations. Together, this will enhance your knowledge of what great leadership takes. Another good source? Your local civic leaders and law enforcement – they know the neighborhoods in your city, and they might have key insights that will shape the policies you put forth.
 
5.    Be responsible.
As a board member, you’ll have a specific set of responsibilities. You might be in charge of the budget. You may be the individual in charge of preparing the agenda. Or you might have a committee report to you. No matter what, you’ll want to treat these duties seriously. Another thing? If you’re presenting information during a board meeting, distribute the items in advance so your fellow board members have time to review beforehand. That way everyone arrives informed and ready for a robust discussion.
 
6.    Now is better than later.
When a resident comes to you with an issue, it’s better if you solve it right away. This not only addresses the problem promptly, but it also lets the resident know you care about their concerns. For those matters that require research, do it with immediacy. And if you don’t arrive at a full answer within a reasonable amount of time, let the resident know you’re still working on it. Commit to a final deadline for your response.
 
7.    Consider hiring a professional. 
Board leadership, to put it lightly, is a big job. Professional management can help you shoulder some of the work. If you have already partnered with a California community association management company, now’s a good time to assess their overall performance. Are they bringing ideas to the table? Are they proactive in delivering HOA management services? Do they provide genuine value for the fees they charge? If you aren’t happy with the answers to these questions, it may be time to find a new management company. For more insight into how professional community management can benefit you, go here.
 
8.    Let the sun shine in.
Unless you’re dealing with privileged information or protecting the privacy of a resident, board meetings should be transparent affairs. Make sure you welcome and encourage residents to take part. Sometimes, this may not be possible, but erring on the side of transparency is a good idea. You’ll follow different guidelines for annual meetings and special meetings, which we can tell you more about in this article.
 
9.    Get everyone together.
You’ll definitely want to meet the individuals you’re serving. Holding a community event is a great way to get to know them better. It could be anything – a food drive, fundraiser, or any event that gets people out of their homes and interacting with one another. An added benefit? Events like these help create a vibrant community, which enhances the image of your association in the eyes of potential buyers.
 
10.  Lead by example.
Board members must follow the rules more strictly than anyone. Residents look to you as an example, so it’s imperative that you follow all rules to the letter – whether it’s parking designations, cleaning up after your pet, or adhering to noise ordinances. But following rules isn’t enough...make sure you give your neighbors help when they need it. Be among the first to welcome new residents. And do all you can to create a genuine feeling of community spirit. Because if you lead the community in a positive direction, other residents will follow.

Remember these tips and you’re on your way to a successful tenure as a board member. For more advice or to inquire about residential community association management services, contact FirstService Residential today.

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