Board Basics: How to Run an Effective Board Meeting
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We've broken it down with seven key things to consider. Running a board meeting may seem like a simple task where community members hold a productive gathering. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
These meetings are a necessary part of community association governance; they consist of HOA members and their shareholders (or homeowners). Sometimes, there are arguments, people speak over each other, and some attendees may feel their voice isn't heard at all. If you leave a board meeting feeling unaccomplished, that is not a good sign.
Effective board meetings come down to many factors and processes. Read our list of recommendations on how to run a board meeting and move the discussion in the right direction!
1. Designate a Chair.
The first step is to designate a meeting chair. The chair is the person who conducts the meeting and keeps track of the topics discussed according to the agenda. This person keeps meetings organized, succinct, and courteous. All attendees should assume responsibility to maintain efficiency. This means any comments should be to the point and relayed back to a topic on the prepared agenda.
The agenda is usually kept in a strict format, including roll call, minutes, reports, motions, and voting. It would help if you kept time aside for any further discussion and questions.
Once the meeting is over, the meeting chair should summarize the discussion, so every attendee understands the decisions made and are on the same page. The next step is to identify any next steps on an "Action Item List" that includes deadlines. The job of the association manager will then be to review this list with the board to inspire confidence and increase board unity.
2. Follow Parliamentary Procedure.
Parliamentary procedure is a formal term that goes back a few centuries to the Parliaments of England. If you have ever been to a board meeting, you know this procedure is a way to conduct meetings still used today. Parliamentary procedure is a process that establishes proper rules and methods for meeting discussions and debates, which allows for order and all attendees to have a voice.
3. Go Formal
It only fits an important meeting or discussion with your fellow board members to have a suitable business-type setting to conduct your conversations. Typically, the meeting setting is a community meeting room or board room. If there is no one available, check for nearby libraries or small office rentals you can use for the day.
If you are managed by FirstService Residential, you can also ask about our meeting location options available to clients. Do not settle for having your board meeting in a cramped space. This is especially true of meetings in someone's home, as this decreases the formality of the forum and seems unprofessional. This will seem clear if there are challenging issues to discuss or resolve in someone's living room.
Also, a meeting should be seen as precisely that. Of course, you can exchange pleasantries before the meeting occurs, but time is of the essence, so it shouldn't be seen as a social gathering. Do not participate in gossip or any off-topic discussions that stray away from the agenda at hand. As soon as this happens, board members may leave the meeting feeling unproductive or have missed essential questions. A simple tip is to get crucial meeting items done first, and once you've completed the agenda, social time begins!
4. Motions, Not Emotions
When meeting with other board members to discuss improving or updating building amenities, renovations, etc., sometimes residents can exude their passionate feelings regarding the changes. While this is a good sign, there is also a line that shouldn't be crossed.
Making decisions based on emotions should not be encouraged. Instead, meetings can be kept professional by allowing board members to present their motions and then a second to the motion. This process benefits all members because it produces constructive criticism at length and through open communication regarding one topic. This is why a structured agenda is important – it keeps emotions in check and prevents the need to vent, and instead increases the helpful exchanges of ideas.
5. Create a Code
Respect is an essential part of any meeting, as is honesty, reliability, and other qualities. These qualities can make up a code of conduct that board members follow in each board meeting when discussing a topic. Having little courtesy for other's thoughts and opinions has no place in a meeting. Members are giving up their time, and all should be treated as equal parts of the community. If you don't have a code of conduct, talk to FirstService Residential about developing one for your board.
6. Time Management
When setting a meeting agenda, there should be time blocks attached to each topic. No one wants to be dragged through a three-hour meeting, as quality decision-making tends to diminish as time goes on. Depending on the regularity of the board meetings, they should be no longer than two hours. Sometimes a one-hour session is sufficient enough to get through all of the critical topics. It's okay to go over your allotted times in this case, so add a little cushion of time if this occurs.
Time management is also about allocating everyone the right amount of time to speak on each topic. There will be discussions on strategy, upcoming projects, and important policies. However, if it seems that one person is taking up more time than needed or is controlling the discussion, the chairperson should step in and encourage the flow of the meeting to be followed accordingly. Let everyone have their say according to the set time limits.
7. Make Minutes Count
The Board Secretary is responsible for taking the minutes at each meeting and reading the minutes from the previous session as part of the proceedings. Minutes serve as an official record of meetings for the association – and most association bylaws and state statutes give unit owners the right to see them. Minutes summarize motions made and actions taken, not a verbatim transcript of everything said during the meeting.
Finally, don't tolerate disruptive behavior of any kind, and remember that you have the authority to expel any person exhibiting unruly behavior from the meeting. Board meetings are much more organized and efficient if you establish ground rules, create an agenda, and stick to them. A poorly run board meeting can make it challenging to achieve your association's goals and thwart your efforts to recruit new volunteer board members in the future.
For more information on how to be the best board member you can be, contact FirstService Residential today.