Creating Your Best Condo Board Committee
You will not find two similar condominium boards across the GTA - or even across Ontario. Each board has different requirements, goals, concerns, and most importantly, they are made up of people with different needs.
Thus, when the decision is made by the condo board to create a board committee, you should not expect it operate just like any other committee. This is because you will have people with varying opinions, personalities and experience bringing different perspectives on any given topic. This is definitely not a bad thing, so long as your condo committee is well structured and follows established guidelines.
Your property management company can be instrumental in making sure that your condo committees run smoothly. Following these guidelines can also make sure your committee is on the right track for success.
Establish the Goals of the Committee
When starting a condo committee, ask the important questions. First off, will the committee be responsible for a type of ongoing activity, or does it have a particular purpose? Will it have an advisory role with the condo board, or will it be empowered to make decisions? These are important factors that should be discussed at length.
Permanent condo committees that are responsible for ongoing tasks such as finances, security, maintenance, or grievances are called “standing” committees. Short term projects that have to do with research or reporting on an issue, or even planning an event are called “ad hoc,” or “special” committees.
The time of year, the different seasons, or more “serious” occasions such as upcoming legislation may be reason enough to come up with a committee. To elaborate, if a holiday season such as Christmas is coming up, you may create an ad hoc committee that will come up with special activities specifically for this occasion. Once the holiday is over, the committee is no longer needed.
Further, you may need a special committee to determine what your condo board needs to do to comply with the Ontario Condominium Act. Going through your bylaws to know what type of committees you can create and the amount of authority they have is important to know the committee’s capabilities. A condominium management company can assist you through this process and help you determine what makes the most sense for your condominium corporation.
Select Appropriate Condo Committee Members
As the saying goes, it takes a village. Having the right people on a condo committee is crucial to its success. A general number for a committee is between three to nine members. An odd number of people helps avoid tie votes. Before getting into what makes a good committee member, the number one criteria anyone should pass is that they have the time to serve. For a resident that is interested in getting involved in the community through a committee but doesn’t have as much time, perhaps them being a part of a special committee is a better option than a standing committee. Qualities a committee member should possess is open-mindedness, reliability, trustworthiness, and being interested in the success of the committee. They should always put the needs of the condo corporation in front of their own.
Never look over people who have not served on a board committee before. They have to start somewhere, and this may even work to the committee’s advantage because a new member brings a fresh perspective and if they are interested in joining, this already means they are passionate about being part of the group and community.
Condo committees can play a crucial role in maintaining the work-life balance of corporation board members, especially if you’ve taken the time to find qualified members. Too busy to think of planning the next condo movie night or holiday party? That’s where a qualified ad-hoc committee can help things run smoothly and you can focus on other board related matters. If you are starting a new committee to help plan a party or event, try advertising the volunteer position asking for people with those specific skills or just a keen interest. Make clear the expectations of the committee and what you want them to accomplish.
Take Great Care in Choosing a Committee Chair
Choosing a leader is never easy. But the person who does get this title should have strong leadership abilities above all other qualifications. Rather than being an autocratic leader, the committee chair should rule by encouraging open communication. They should also be okay with mediating and keeping the committee on task when fellow committee members might have small disagreements.
Set the Committee Up for Success
Being on the board, you can do many things to make the life and job of the committee members a breeze, which will in turn increase their effectiveness. Your property management company can help you accomplish this in different ways, including:
Creating a clear purpose with concrete, achievable, and measurable objectives
Ensuring that objectives are in keeping with the condo corporation’s best interests
Assigning a reasonable number of responsibilities
Establishing convenient times to hold meetings
Make Communication a Cornerstone
Establishing effective communication channels, both within the committee and between the committee and the condo board, is easily one of the most important steps you can take. The right property management company will have the proper processes and technology in place that can help streamline your communications.
Every committee member should receive meeting notes, especially if they will need to take some kind of action. They should also have a chance to review and discuss draft reports before the committee submits it to the condo board. As a board member, you want to establish clear communication between the committee members and the board, so be sure to aim for clarity in any correspondence with the committee.
Make Serving on a Condo Board Committee a Positive Experience
More often than not, serving on a condo board committee can be a rewarding activity for residents. It allows them to play an important part in serving their community while giving them the opportunity to work along side like minded neighbours. However, if a member of a condo board committee has a negative experience that news can quickly spread throughout the community, and it can become difficult for condo boards to find residents willing to sit on a committee.
To ensure members of your special committees are having a positive experience, check in on your board’s various committees on a regular basis. Don’t forget you can lean on your property manager’s immeasurable experience that can help your board establish successful committees.