Just as in any successful business organization, succession is an integral part of a healthy community association board. And while the current board and management cannot groom any one specific homeowner (as every owner/shareholder is eligible to run for a board position), there are always opportunities through which prospective leaders can be identified, and steps you can take to help those with leadership potential become familiar with certain roles on the board. This way, they are knowledgeable on specific responsibilities associated with these board member roles before they choose to submit their candidacy for election.
The great thing about planning ahead and planning strategically is that it provides for a more seamless operation for your board. When individuals are prepped for and knowledgeable about a role, they can hit the ground running immediately after the election. Here are several ways you can help make this happen.
You never know who the next great leader might be. So cast a wide net – engage as many homeowners as you can. You’ll find that many individuals want to be heard, want to make a difference, and want to be part of the process. The challenge is that most of them don’t know how. That question of “how?” is something you can take care of and answer for them. Start by seeking input from homeowners, soliciting their opinions, and inviting open participation at meetings. You’ll soon identify the big thinkers and bold achievers in your own community. The individuals actively participating and eagerly contributing could be your future board members and community leaders.
It’s hard to lead if you’ve never been given the chance. Once you’ve identified volunteers with great potential, delegate important tasks to them by getting them involved in committees. Just be sure that you make your expectations clear, and that their role and responsibilities are explicitly defined. You can do this through committee charters...these documents outline responsibilities, decision-making guidelines and examples on how to effectively assert authority, as well as the steps the committee members should take when reporting to the board at large. By providing this clear framework, your committee members will be able to devote their time and energy to developing innovative ideas and solutions.
A little gratitude can go a long way. When you show your appreciation, volunteers are more likely to stay engaged, and an experienced volunteer will one day make a great board member. There are many ways you can let your volunteers know how much of a difference they’re making, from formally recognizing them during meetings to making announcements in your newsletter to even putting on special events where volunteers are recognized. If you have a great community association management company, they’ll be full of interesting ideas on how to keep volunteers feeling rewarded.
Nobody is born knowing how to be a part of a committee, or even what the role of a committee member or board member is. It’s something that must be learned through observation and training. Make sure you provide this training to your volunteers, along with all of the documents they’ll need to be familiar with in order to operate effectively. And don’t forget, even veteran committee members and board members can benefit from “refresher” sessions from time to time. Part of this should include fostering a thorough understanding of the governing documents, a clear definition of the volunteer’s role, and a full download on ongoing projects and upcoming challenges and issues. Good community association management companies are adept at providing training services to board members and volunteers, so look to yours for help.
Remember, it’s not enough to have a successful and effective board in the present. It is necessary and wise to lay the groundwork for the future, too. Establishing succession is a great way to accomplish this, and it’s essential to the health of your entire community.