HOA Agreement: 4 Tips to Promote a Functional Board
What’s the biggest challenge of being a board member? Events and committees? Budgets? While these are all very important aspects of being an HOA board member, the most challenging part of being a board member is alignment with one another.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges that all board members face is HOA agreement and board members’ alignment with one another. Board alignment is important, and without board alignment, the chance that association projects falling by the wayside is increased. Additionally, policy decisions will stagnate and your ability to improve the community and the resident experience will be at risk. Furthermore, a board struggling with alignment puts its reputation with residents in jeopardy, which can lead to hostility and even recalls.
But how do you tackle alignment as a group of diverse individuals with unique values? Read below to find out what real board members from successful homeowners’ associations are doing differently to be effective and align on important decisions.
But first, what is board alignment?
First, let’s begin with what it isn’t. Board alignment is not agreeing on every single decision or collectively agreeing on a perspective or opinion.
HOA agreement is not indicated by agreeing with every single decision or having the same perspective and opinions. This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to board alignment and decision-making.
In reality, board alignment is being united on the best interests of the community and agreeing on the end result. Watch the video below to learn why HOA board alignment is important.
Tip #1: Start with the right “why.”
Unfortunately, not everyone who joins the HOA board does so with the right intentions or motivations; however, it is not your job to worry about fellow board members. Instead, you should start by evaluating your own intentions for becoming a board member. With the right intentions and motivations for being on the board, you can contribute more effectively because your choices are always for the good of the community.
Trilogy La Quinta Maintenance Association is a prominent 1,238-home active adult community in La Quinta, California. The board has accomplished major projects over the past several years because of a strong focus on strategic planning and thoughtful capital improvements. In fact, they accomplished 4 major construction projects in 4 years, including a major renovation of 60 acres of the nearby golf course perimeter landscape. How did they do it? By putting the community first.
It's important to remember the why behind why you became an HOA board member – to better the community as a whole. Be objective. Objectivity is key in effective communication amongst the board. Being a board member, it is important to remain objective when everyone has an opportunity to voice their opinions when issues arise. Avoid decisions that will only benefit you or one person on the board, but rather consider all points of view and come to a decision that will benefit the community and the board as a whole.
Tip #2: Hear each other out (even when you disagree).
Hearing someone out seems simple, but when you’re faced with a room full of different personalities and opinions, respecting one another and hearing each other out can become a challenge. Hearing others out can make a world of difference, but what does this look like in a successful association?
The Mark is a 95-unit high-rise association located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The building features large, thoughtfully designed units and a prominent location in the heart of the city, near boutique hotels and popular dining and shopping attractions. Because of the building’s high caliber and reputation, the board is singularly focused on maintaining their reputation and property values. Recently, they successfully navigated a difficult arbitration case, with the help of former attorneys on the board and a commitment to work through the challenges together. By respecting and listening to one another, they were able to win a critical case.
Probably one of the most common reactions to hearing an opposing opinion is to come up with a defense rather than hearing out the opinion, making HOA agreement difficult to achieve. Everyone is human so having contrasting opinions is inevitable, but it is important to remember to actively listen to your fellow board members and try to see their perspective.
Tip #3: Stick to your association’s mission and strategy.
With a board full of individual motivations and desires, how do you keep the community’s best interest at heart? Start with a mission and a strategic game plan. Starting with these two elements are key to the board and the entire association’s overall success and alignment.
Having a specific mission and a well-planned strategy can facilitate better board decisions because you already have an idea of where you need to be in the years ahead. You should ask the questions, “Does this decision align with our mission?” or “Does this decision reflect our strategic plan?”. If the answer is no to either of these questions, that decision may not be right for your community.
To be successful, boards should implement a strategic plan to mitigate changes in board members and maintain a consistent, singular focus on their community.
Tip #4: Leave your ego at the door.
A key concept to remember when it comes to being a board member is there is absolutely no room for ego if you want to have an effective and high-performing HOA. When you are part of an HOA board, your focus should shift to the best interest of the community rather than your own personal agenda or initiatives. So, what does that look like?
EastLake II is a 2,357-unit single-family home association located in Chula Vista, California. The community has placed a tremendous focus on community involvement, amenities and events, including an annual barbecue where the board personally serves the residents. The board is proactive and hands-on, with well-funded reserves and carefully thought-out maintenance projects. Why have they experienced so much success over the past couple of years? Because of a shared commitment to put their egos aside and focus on the community.
Why board alignment matters
Although there are many qualities and factors that make a successful HOA board, HOA agreement and alignment is one of the most critical characteristics boards need to accomplish positive change in their community. Contrastingly, the lack of board agreement can lead to a dysfunctional board, stagnant decision making, and a poor reputation with your community.