The greatest strength of your board is the diverse perspectives of all of its members. Unfortunately, sometimes this can also present the biggest challenges.
Diverging opinions can have a way of becoming arguments. That’s never productive. But there are five tips you can put into play that help your board work together.
1. Motions, not emotions.
Boards are typically made up of residents who display a passionate attitude about their community. And that’s a good thing. But it’s important to remember that board meetings are business meetings, which leaves little room for emotion. To keep the spirit of the meeting as professional as possible, encourage board members to present motions, and then allow a second to the motion. Rather than speaking openly (and at length) about a specific topic, allow others to give constructive input. Structuring your meeting in a way that’s business-minded can help keep emotions in check, and that makes for more productive interactions and exchanges of ideas. If some of your board members are unfamiliar with the formal procedural elements of meetings, a property manager can help by giving them some pointers.
2. Set time limits.
Ahhh, the three-hour meeting. It’s enough to test the patience of even the most well-meaning board member. Typically, the longer a meeting goes on, the more the quality of decision-making is diminished. It’s best to keep board meetings under two hours (and preferably to one hour). To make this happen, assign a specific time limit to every agenda item. You may not always hit your mark, but planning the meeting down to the minute will go a long way toward preventing meeting fatigue – and the short tempers that come along with it.
3. Prevent the vent.
Sometimes you just have to let it out. That’s not being unreasonable; it’s just being human. Just remember that a board meeting isn’t the place to do it. Empower fellow board members to keep one another in check should a person start to go off on a tangent. Speaking up can stop poor behavior in its tracks. Just remember that “respect” is the watchword here... let a venting board member know that their opinions (and passion) are valued, but the board meeting may not be the ideal venue to be heard.
4. Know the code.
Encourage all board members to be familiar with (and adhere to!) a code of conduct. This helps everyone be clear on the “rules of engagement” during a meeting. Disrespect and a lack of courtesy have no place in any community, but that’s especially true at board meetings. It’s a place of business, and all board members should treat their time with the board the same way they would treat a meeting at their own place of business. If you don’t have a code of conduct, a good property management company can help you develop one for your board.
Being heard has a way of bringing people together. Every board member should listen to the other – and to homeowners as well. Practice active listening, and respond with an affirmation summarizing what you’ve heard from the other party. Agreement, of course, is optional. But listening is most definitely mandatory.
Your board is made up of many different personalities, but it’s essential that it operates as a unified body. Remembering these easy tips can help make that happen. For more insight on how to get more from your board, contact FirstService Residential