As a member of your homeowners’ association (HOA) board, you are certainly aware of how tricky it can be to run board meetings. Some days you may feel more like a cat herder, a referee or a crisis negotiator than a board member!
So what can you do to ensure that your meetings run smoothly? Enlisting the help of a professional community management company can make a tremendous difference. Read on to learn some techniques—and Nevada requirements—for having successful meetings.
1. Follow Robert’s Rules of Order.
Nevada law (NRS 116.3109, Section 4) requires that HOA meetings be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. This is the most recent edition of a book that has been used since 1876 as a guide for conducting meetings and making group decisions. Robert’s Rules of Order includes the following principles:
  • No owner will speak for more than three minutes, and no individual person may exceed the three-minute limit even if that person owns more than one unit.
  • Before any action is taken on any item, a motion must be made.
  • All members have the right to free and fair debate.
  • The majority rules.
Your bylaws may specify procedures as well. You should be familiar with the procedural rules both in this book and in your bylaws.
2. Review the board packet before your meeting.
Your community manager (or the board president if your HOA is not working with a professional management company) will provide board members with a board packet at least a few days before your meeting. This packet contains the agenda for the upcoming meeting and minutes from the last meeting. Depending on the focus of your meeting, it may also include financial statements, budgets, action items and other pertinent items that require action or discussion. Make sure to review the board packet prior to the meeting. Prepare questions, formulate your thoughts and decide where you stand on specific issues.

3. Do everything you can to ensure a quorum.
Having to cancel or reschedule a board meeting because you lack a quorum can be an inconvenience for attendees, and it can delay important actions and decisions. If possible, plan to call in when attending a meeting in person will not be possible. Also remind other members that they can call in if they are unable to attend. Make it easy for any board member to do this. For example, provide a call-in number with the board packet, invest in a professional-level speaker phone and sign up with a conference calling service.
4. Keep to your agenda.
Sticking to an agenda will help to keep your meeting on track and prevent it from becoming a social hour. There will be plenty of time for socializing after the meeting is over. Hold open forums at the beginning and end of regular sessions to give homeowners a chance to speak. The forum at the beginning should be limited to discussing agenda items only. The one at the end can be for discussing any topic.
5. Cover only appropriate topics at board meetings.
Board meetings can become excessively long when they are not focused. You can avoid this by limiting topics. For example, only discuss executive session agenda topics during executive sessions. Save strategy discussions for committee meetings or special workshops. This way, the board meeting can simply focus on approving or taking action on specific items.
6. Remain neutral when managing disagreements.
Board members or other homeowners will not agree on everything. If a disagreement starts to escalate, manage the dispute as efficiently as you can so you can get back to business. "I've seen many board meetings go sideways really fast," says Corbin Seti, senior vice president of community and lifestyle services at FirstService Residential in Nevada. "You may have a really comfortable setting and then all of a sudden it turns."
Regardless of where you stand on the disagreement, you need to stay neutral. Ask your community manager to help find a compromise. An experienced management professional can also offer valuable expertise without taking sides.
7. Enforce time limits.
Set a three-minute time limit for each homeowner to speak during the open forums. However, there may be occasions when a speaker ignores this rule and attempts to dominate a meeting anyway. First try to regain control by explaining to that member that his or her comments have been recorded. Then firmly ask the speaker to relinquish the floor to the next person.
If a particular homeowner repeatedly monopolizes forums, you may need to involve a mediator or ask your community manager to play that role. Although it is important to give everyone time to voice an opinion, it is not productive when one person continually takes over discussions.
8. Establish action items, accountability and deadlines.
By the end of a board meeting, you should have a list with next steps, responsibilities and completion dates. Your community manager will most likely follow up on many of these items and can help ensure that none of your action items are overlooked.
Successful board meetings are crucial to making your association function effectively. Having a professional community management company takes the onus off of your board when it comes to planning and hosting board meetings, as well as creating and distributing board packages. Additionally, you’ll have an experienced and dedicated community manager available at your meetings to make sure that they run smoothly.
Find out more about how a community management company can help you run successful board meetings. Contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community management company.
Wednesday September 07, 2016