Serving on a homeowners association (HOA) board comes with a variety of challenges, but getting the most out of your board meetings doesn’t have to be one of them. With the right approach, your HOA board can keep meetings efficient, effective and legally compliant.
Here are a few rules of engagement, that if followed, will help everyone align and keep things on track:
Robert’s Rules of Order
Rule #1 – Follow the Rules
is the holy grail for conducting meetings. Established in 1876 as a guide for making group decisions, this rulebook adds structure to raising issues before the board. For example, once a member makes a motion on a topic there must be a second, or act of support voiced by another member, to begin the discussion. This helps to keep individuals from pushing their personal agenda without first understanding if it’s an issue at large. Be sure to also reference the bylaws for your community, which may specify additional procedures for meetings.
Rule #2 – Keep the Discussion Objective
Boards are typically made up of residents who display a passionate attitude about their community. And that’s a good thing. But it’s important to remember that board meetings are business meetings, which leaves little room for emotion. However, disagreements will happen, and when in doubt, go back to rule #1. Roberts Rules
states that all members have a right to a free and fair debate — and ultimately the majority rules. Each board member or resident should have a chance to share their perspective on an issue, but once a final decision has been made all board members should align with the result.
Rule #3 – Respect Everyone’s Time
Plan ahead by providing an agenda and board minutes from the last meeting several days prior. Each board member should review the minutes and agenda items and provide feedback before the meeting. Keep topics to a minimum and save any longer discussions for committee or special meetings. Once the meeting has started, stick to the agenda. Your property manager or another appointed board member should be able to assist with redirecting the group if needed and making sure the meeting flows smoothly.
Rule #4 – Know Your Role and Priorities
Board members that understand their role and align on a common vision can accomplish more for the betterment of their community. “Every board member should participate in an orientation and plan-for-success workshop,” comments Christy Gross, director of management for FirstService Residential in Austin. “This allows newly elected board members, and those in the middle of their terms, the opportunity to have a refresh of the board’s roles and responsibilities.”
Gross also mentions that the plan-for-success workshop helps board members identify what is and isn’t working in their community. “The exercise takes participants through prioritizing common issues and helps to develop a strategic plan for the coming year,” said Gross.
When planning your board meetings, regularly refer back to the strategic vision document to ensure the board is on track. Your community manager can help by providing updates on overall progress.
Rule #5 – Plan Next Steps
End each board meeting with a plan for how you will start the next. List action items, responsibilities and completion dates. Your community manager or secretary should send a follow-up communication to make sure everyone is on the same page. Use this plan to outline the agenda for the next meeting and to ensure there is accountability for all action items.
Successful board meetings are crucial to making your association function effectively and they can be time consuming. A manager from a professional community management company can help with planning meetings, as well as creating and distributing board packages. They will also provide additional expertise and support to help make things run smoothly so the board can focus on the issues at hand.
Find out more about how a residential management company can help you conduct successful board meetings. Contact FirstService Residential
and talk with one of our client relations managers to see how we can help your board stay focused and achieve more for your community.