Most community association board members are not experts. Rather, they are well-intentioned, dedicated volunteer-leaders who want to protect property values and ensure their community continues to be a great place to live. That’s why it’s important for new and even seasoned board members to get the training they need to govern effectively and address the issues they may face.
“An educated board member is a more effective board member,” says Edwin Lugo, vice president at FirstService Residential. “The board is best able to act as a cohesive unit and focus on important tasks for the association when everyone on the board has become educated about what they really need to do and the right way to do it.”
To that end, here are 5 tips for getting the training you need to become a more effective and knowledgeable board member:
Every community association is a legal corporation, which means the board must follow any laws governing associations, as well as the rules laid out in its governing documents. According to Carli Gilchrist, community training and development manager for FirstService Residential, “When you become a board member, one of the things you should do within the first 90 days is become familiar with state and local laws, as well as your governing documents.” You should also seek basic training that helps you to:
According to Gilchrist, training shouldn’t be a one-time event for board members. “Laws are always changing, and so are trends. You have to continually seek education to stay informed,” she says. “Also, if you haven’t had to apply something, a refresher is a good idea.”
One community association managed by FirstService Residential takes this advice to heart. Anytime a new member is elected to the board, the entire board – not just the new member – enrolls in the basic board member training offered by FirstService Residential. The association does this is to make sure all board members have current information and are on the same page.
Training does not necessarily have to involve sitting in a classroom for hours. Since people have different ways in which they learn best, having a variety of formats helps address these differences.
Your property management company should encourage board education and offer basic and ongoing board member training based on the most up-to-date information. If the company is large enough to have in-house expertise in specific areas, this knowledge should also be made available to board members through specialized training classes. Boards deal with a host of issues, from landscaping and engineering matters to legal and insurance concerns, so they need to hear from experts in these areas.
“A good expert will share their knowledge,” says Gilchrist, “and when the information is presented professionally, they can directly quote things like state law.” She warns that if a presenter gets defensive when asked a question, it may be a sign that they don’t have the depth of knowledge they claim to have.
Knowledge is not simply power. It’s also crucial for success. Proper training is the key to providing you and the other board members with the knowledge and leadership skills you need. Armed with the right information, you’ll be able to carry out your duties more effectively, keep the community’s operations running smoothly and avoid exposing your community – or yourself – to unnecessary risk.
Board member training is just one important task new board members should undertake. Find out what else your board needs to tackle in our complementary infographic, Annual Tasks for Boards . Just fill out the form to download it!
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