True or false? A great board meeting involves zero disagreements and minimal resident feedback.  
False. Of course, being on the same page as your board and hearing fewer complaints is a positive sign, but it turns out agreeing on almost everything isn’t all that healthy. On the other hand, too many negative and unbalanced opinions can make a board meeting tense and unproductive. 

A great board meeting should have a balance of diverse opinions and discussions that are rooted in your community’s overall vision. This helps foster better relationships among the association, staff, and residents and can improve your community’s reputation in the market at large, which benefits property values. 
How do you take your board meetings to the next level? Start with these 6 simple HOA board meeting rules: 

1. Plan ahead.

Before your meeting begins, prepare for your meeting by reviewing the agenda and important details with your dedicated community manager. With support from a top California community management company, an organized and proactive manager can create a tailored agenda for you. At FirstService Residential, board packets are sent out five days prior to the meeting, containing the agenda, proposed motions, and FAQs for a smooth and efficient meeting.  

Additionally, as a board member, it is important to understand that your responsibility is not just limited to attending meetings and voting on policies. You play a crucial role in reviewing and providing input on proposed policies and ensuring they align with the overall goals and values of the community. 

Getting defensive? In our latest HOA survey, 16.4% of surveyed board members said they defend the association at all costs when dealing with disruptive residents rather than thoughtfully listening and partnering with management to come up with a solution. 

2. Be professional.

Remember, board meetings are business, and it is important to not take things said personally. It is best to keep your position on the board as you would in any other professional job and keep your personal agenda off the table. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t bring it up in a business meeting, you probably shouldn’t bring it up in an HOA board meeting. To that end, make sure that you and your board members understand the basic meeting structure and procedures involved (e.g., making and seconding motions). 

Need a little help on running meetings professionally? Your California association management company should facilitate training on board meeting procedures and communication tactics.  

3. Keep it concise.

Who likes long meetings? Spoiler alert: No one! Lengthy board meetings can drain energy and impede the decision-making process. It's a widely acknowledged truth that brevity in such settings not only sharpens focus but also ensures that critical messages and initiatives are conveyed clearly. To enhance efficiency and productivity during these meetings, they should be judiciously kept to 45 to 60 minutes—a feasible target with adequate preparation. Collaborate closely with your HOA manager to distill the agenda down to its essence. Provided with the necessary support and resources, your HOA manager can become an instrumental ally in steering meetings to be both succinct and substantial. 

4. Create a no-venting zone.

If you’ve been a board member for any amount of time, you know how easily a board meeting can become grounds for a personal venting session. Seasoned board members know that meetings can deviate into personal grievance airings rather than focusing on the agenda. Establishing speaking parameters can maintain the meeting’s flow. Consider a three-minute limit per topic to ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute without monopolizing the conversation. A skilled community manager is invaluable in crafting and implementing these guidelines, keeping board meetings productive and on-track. 

According to California Civil Code, the board should establish “a reasonable time limit for all members of the association to speak to the board or before a meeting of the association.” 

5. Abide by a code of conduct.

In the pursuit of maintaining a harmonious community, it's essential that both board members and residents adhere to a specific set of behavioral standards. These codes of conduct are usually clearly detailed within the community’s governing documents and are integral in promoting a culture of respect and courtesy. Your board’s code of conduct should include time limitations on speakers and identify who can attend and speak at meetings, among other policies. If you don’t have a code of conduct, your community management company should be able to help you both develop and enforce one. 

6. Be a good listener.

As a rule of thumb, listen more than you speak. Often, board members and residents just want to be heard and valued. Even if you don’t fully agree with what an individual has to say, you should actively listen to their concerns and opinions. Show them you have their attention by responding with a summary of what they said. By hearing different opinions, you gain respect from residents. Their feedback may even spur an idea for a community improvement or opportunity. 

Next steps

A healthy board meeting goes a long way in establishing your association’s reputation among residents and in the community at large. Partner with your California association management company on the HOA board meeting rules above to help you avoid common roadblocks and hold more successful and productive board meetings. 

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. 
Monday March 11, 2024