How to Build a Better Board by Embracing and Understanding Diversity

Posted on Thursday May 26, 2016 |



A board of directors in a cooperative or board of managers in a condominium can be a diverse group. That’s especially true in New York City, where residents are known for their diversity of opinions – and their willingness to share them. 
 
In a dysfunctional board, this can be a recipe for disaster. But if you place an emphasis on fostering the right dynamics among your board members, you can turn these varying opinions and personalities into an armory of strength. Let’s take a look at how you can make this happen. 
 
1. Leave emotion off the agenda.
Given New York City’s vast population of professionals, it’s likely that your board is made up of individuals who are familiar with running organizations, or who have the business acumen it takes to operate as an effective fiscal steward. To make the most of this expertise, it’s important to keep the conversations structured – regardless of how hot the topic is. Constantly remind your colleagues of the need to present specific motions and allow for them to be seconded before a board meeting becomes dominated by a particular discussion. You’re in luck if most of your members are sophisticated enough to be familiar with the procedural elements of a good meeting, so it may just take a few gentle reminders to make sure these processes are adhered to. In other words, identify and maintain meeting protocol. Need help wrangling an unwieldy board? A great property management company can step in and help.
  
2. Time is money.  
Life here is often lived in the fast lane. That means meetings for cooperatives and condominiums have to be as efficient as they are effective. No one has the time (or the patience) for an all-night meeting, so try assigning a time limit to each item on the agenda. Beyond the boardroom, make sure all projects are initiated with strict timelines. Together, this makes for improved work flow and faster, better decision-making.  
 
3. It’s not all on the table.
Don’t get us wrong – there’s a place for venting frustrations. But during a board meeting is not the place. The agenda exists for a reason, which means successful boards encourage members to stick to it. Give all parties the freedom to check a member who embarks on a tangential discussion that threatens to disrupt the efficiency of the meeting. Passion and opinions are valued, but within a board meeting, any potentially heated communication must still be structured and constructive.    

4. Create your code.
A formalized code of conduct can help create an effective, collegial atmosphere for your board. This will help prevent disrespectful or discourteous behavior and encourage an environment where business can be conducted in a way that is streamlined, yet still thorough. Draw this parallel: a meeting of the board is the same as any business meeting, and behaviors should reflect that. Having trouble creating your own code of conduct? Look to an excellent property management company for their meeting experience and expertise.   
 
5. Keep your ears open. 
Not being heard is a certain source of frustration. Be sure to hear your fellow board members out – but take it a step further, too. Make certain to affirm what they’ve voiced so they know you’re truly listening. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, of course, but summarizing what you’ve heard lets the speaker know their thoughts and feelings have at least reached their audience. This will no doubt create mutual respect and increase the level of interpersonal communication. 
 
A diversity of backgrounds and opinions is the hallmark of a healthy board. Instead of sowing discord, these differences should be channeled into more effective governance. Follow these tips and you can help make that happen. And for further insight on how to get more from your board, contact FirstService Residential, New York’s leading property management company or fill out the form below.

Are you a Board Member?*:

 

Share This: