Four Paths for the Board Succession Planning ProcessHere in New York City, our condominium and cooperative communities can exceed 1,000 units. For boards, that means a lot of responsibility – especially when it comes to planning for the future.

Part of that is the future of the board itself, specifically the issue of succession. After all, as much as you’d like to keep great board members onboard forever, it just isn’t possible, especially given the rules on succession as stated within a property’s governing documents. Here are a few strategies for ensuring the next board of managers or directors is just as capable and qualified as your current one.
  1. Empower future candidates now.

    As a current board member, you have a role to play right now. Remember the power of sub-committees and the difference they can make: They’re not only a way to streamline effective operations for the board and what it intends to accomplish, but they’re also a great way to tap into new and emerging talent for future board leadership. Look for individuals who are strong and proactive – then empower them with the responsibility to accomplish specific objectives. Along the way, you’ll not only vet potential candidates for the next election you’ll also build the sense of togetherness it takes to strengthen the fabric of board leadership. As a board member, it’s your responsibility to empower, recruit and groom the next wave of leadership.
  2. Have them live a day in a leader’s shoes.

    You never can tell how someone may respond to leadership. Will they thrive under pressure, or will it make them buckle? The only way to be sure is to grant  them the power and responsibility to lead. To do so, appoint interested individuals to leadership positions within your board’s committees. Not only will these chairs and co-chairs streamline operations for you (and take a significant load off of over-worked board members’ shoulders), but you’ll also see how these individuals react to the role of leadership. Don’t worry if they don’t perform perfectly at first – remember, part of your role is to groom and refine those who show talent for the job. Look specifically for potential in the areas of communication, as their future role will require them to work with fellow residents, building management professionals and board members with clarity.
  3. Show gratitude.

    These two little words can make an immense difference for your volunteers: “thank you.” Use them often and you’ll be surprised at how it keeps great volunteers engaged. And remember, the longer these volunteers stay plugged in, the more likely they are to become a great board member. Of course, showing gratitude can go beyond just a pat on the back. Consider strategies like formally recognizing them during meetings, making announcements in your newsletters or other communications, or even creating special events designed around showing volunteer appreciation. You can also talk to a good property management company; they’ll be adept at developing tactics for making volunteers feel like their efforts are noticed and valued.
  4. Education = action.

    At some point, it takes professional educational materials to help a volunteer reach his or her true potential for board leadership. Look to your property management company for help. FirstService Residential, for instance, offers comprehensive and relevant training materials to make this happen. The company publishes a customized “Board Member Resource Guide” to help newly elected board members make their transition. (Incidentally, it’s also a great resource for existing board members, too.) This guide is full of important information, such as a welcome packet that provides a comprehensive compilation of all relevant building documents, an explanation of how the board functions alongside the property management company, and specifics on their roles and responsibilities. The guide is complemented with a host of educational opportunities at the company’s Learning Center, where they can experience simulations of their building’s operating systems, such as the concierge desk and elevator car. A great property management company will also offer panel discussions and seminars on board members’ fiduciary duties and overall responsibilities, along with specific insight into avoiding liability claims (you can see our article on that important topic right here).
Great boards focus on the future. That includes board member succession. Just remember to identify great talent, groom them accordingly, give them the opportunity to lead, and support them with the right educational experiences. For more on this, contact FirstService Residential, New York’s leader in property management.
Tuesday June 28, 2016