Beyond HOA Basics: 5 Topics Board Members Should Know
In a world where everyone knows about the latest association triumphs or failures via social media and personal anecdotes, your reputation as a well-informed and engaged HOA makes a big difference. That’s why it’s important to prioritize ongoing education, long after your initial orientation. Having the practical education, technical know-how and emotional IQ to excel at your job can help you make better informed decisions for your community, which elevates the resident experience and ultimately improves your association’s reputation. And of course, this revived reputation overflows into property values (because who doesn’t want to choose a property known to have a fantastic association and community experience?).
To take your knowledge a step further, it’s crucial to partner with an experienced community management company that can provide you and your community manager with specialized and local in-house education and training. The most effective training is developed through consistent feedback from clients to ensure needs are addressed. The best community management companies will offer resources in a variety of platforms that line up with your schedule via in-person training, online programs, educational articles and white papers and access to industry experts. The question is, what are the areas that will most benefit your association’s reputation now and in the future?
1. Board responsibilities
Whether you’re a volunteer HOA board member for a high-rise in Las Vegas or a master-planned community in Reno, you’ve likely taken a course on basic board responsibilities as part of your orientation. But your knowledge of the standards and applicable laws that are part of your role should extend past that initial training. You should view your role as a board member with the same amount of professionalism that you give to any job. That means your training doesn’t end on day one. As Brittany Taylor, on-site community manager of Regency at Summerlin said, “Professionalism and standardization are the two ways we are going to elevate our communities. Without the right mindset and a continual appetite for training, board members will find it more difficult to excel at their position and add value to the community at large.”
2. HOA legislation
If you’ve been on a board for any amount of time, you know that it’s not a matter of if legal questions come up from residents and board members, but how often. Potential legal issues can have a major effect on your board and the association at large. Of course, your first step in better understanding HOA legal issues will be to consult with your association general counsel. You cannot replace the personalized legal expertise that your general counsel will offer; however, an experienced and knowledgeable community management company can provide you and management team members with resources to understand laws that affect your association. Make sure that your community management company employs a variety of knowledgeable specialists who stay informed about the latest legislation that may affect your community and also help to shape that legislation. For example, Steven Parker, president of FirstService Residential in Nevada, studies proposed legislation and works with lawmakers to help them understand the industry and how proposed statutes would apply in practice. Knowing is half the battle when it comes to changing legislation, and having the resources to help you better understand it will benefit your association.
3. Association technology
Being an association board member today is not the same as it was five years ago – especially when it comes to technology. Technology changes at a rapid pace, so it’s important that board members and community managers be trained on the latest technologies and digital tools in order to remain relevant. Your community management company should provide in-house software that’s designed to work with all necessary association applications and complementary training so that you can reach out to their team directly for support when you need it. Additionally, because of the changing nature of technology and the recent spike in cyber threats, board members and community managers alike should learn as much as they can about safeguarding their HOA’s sensitive data. To learn more, read our three-part series on cyber security and white paper.
4. HOA financials
Your initial orientation may have covered the basics of HOA financials, but just like Algebra 101, you may need a refresher course. And while you don’t necessarily need to do a deep dive of all financial-related matters in your community, it’s important to have some familiarity with HOA financials. For topics involving finances, board members and community managers alike should consider taking an in-person training session or course so that they can ask any questions and get a deeper understanding of the topic. FirstService Residential offers a variety of ongoing courses on this topic, ranging from Budgeting and Financial Planning 101 to Understanding Your Reserve Fund.
5. Effective communication
Last but certainly not least, having a solid “emotional IQ” is crucial to being an effective board member (or community manager). And to establish great relationships with residents and fellow board members, you must be a good listener and communicator. While this may seem like a basic social skill you’ve already mastered, there are very few (if any!) individuals who are communication experts. To learn some of the communication tricks of the trade, consider taking a course or workshop designed specifically for community associations. Another great way to learn how to communicate more effectively is to explore your own personality through opportunities like DiSC training. Effective communication goes a long way with residents and fellow board members and can have a powerful and positive effect on your community’s reputation in the marketplace.
In order to succeed on your HOA board and make a difference in your community, you need to prioritize education and training. A well-educated board member plays an important role in improving their association’s reputation by practicing solid decision-making skills and developing equally strong relationships with residents and homeowners. Your community manager should also undergo ongoing training to help you and your community excel in this area. To aid in this process, your community management company should offer a variety of helpful resources in various platforms that line up with your schedule.
FirstService Residential provides clients and their community managers with flexible training, industry experts and a variety of educational outlets that are nuanced based on feedback from ongoing surveys such as NPS and communication with association members and community managers. These resources include in-person training, in-depth online classes through our proprietary e-Learning platform, BoardAdvantage, robust white papers and articles and access to industry experts.
To learn more about board member and community manager education, contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community management company.