Six Ways to Have a Better Board Meeting
False. Actually, a healthy board meeting should have a balance of diverse opinions, regular feedback and discussions that are rooted in your association’s vision. While being on the same page with your board and hearing fewer complaints can be positive, agreeing on almost everything isn’t all that healthy. On the flipside, too many negative and unbalanced opinions can make a board meeting tense and unproductive.
A board meeting that’s professional, organized, aligned to the association’s objectives and vision and open to resident feedback can foster better relationships among association, staff and residents and can also build a better in the market at large, which benefits property values.
What strategies can take your board meetings to next level? Start with these 6 tactics:
1. Do your homework.
Just like in school, a little studying goes a long way. About a week before your next board meeting, review your board packet with your community manager so that you’re ready to tackle any important topics that may arise. A knowledgeable HOA management company will facilitate this step by providing your manager with the resources and support they need. For example, at FirstService Residential, community managers are expected to send out a board packet about five days before the meeting. The packet typically includes a meeting agenda, answers to common questions and suggested motions.
Getting defensive? In our latest HOA survey, 16.4% of surveyed board members said they defend the association at all costs when dealing with disruptive residents rather than thoughtfully listening and partnering with management to come up with a solution.
2. Enter “business mode.”
Approach your position on the board as you would a job, particularly because you’re dealing with a very emotional topic – your home. For instance, if you wouldn’t say something at a business meeting, don’t bring it up in a board meeting. To ensure that you and your fellow board members are on the same page, take steps to understand the basic meeting structure and procedures involved (like making and seconding motions).
Your community management company should provide education for you, your board and your manager, on important topics like board meeting procedures and resident communication.
3. Keep it short.
Board meeting or “bored” meeting? No one wants to endure a long, tedious meeting, even when it involves their community. Additionally, long meetings can often hinder good decision-making and confuse core or important messages you are looking to convey to residents. That’s why you should aim to keep the meeting to a maximum of one hour (yes, it’s possible if you have the resources and support to prep ahead of time!). Your community manager and management company should provide your board with the support and resources needed to help keep your meetings concise and productive.
4. Create a no-venting zone.
A great board meeting can lose steam if it plays host to a long venting session from a board member or resident. To stick to your agenda, it’s critical to set up parameters for topics and speakers. A good best practice is to limit an individual’s time speaking on one topic to three minutes. A well-trained community manager can help you create and facilitate helpful parameters for your next board meeting.
5. Follow the rules.
All boards should adhere to a code of conduct that is outlined in your governing documents. Having a code of conduct in place prior to board meetings helps ensure a respectful, courteous and engaging environment. The code of conduct may include time limitations on speakers and identify who can attend and speak at meetings. Your association management company should help you develop and enforce a solid code of conduct.
6. Listen up.
Actively listening goes a long way with your fellow board members and residents. By making an effort to listen more than you speak, you’ll gain favor with your board and the community at large. Board members and residents often just want to be heard and valued, even if they don’t get their way in the end. By actively listening to them, you are displaying genuine respect and appreciation for their concerns.
Healthy board meetings play a significant role in establishing your community or building’s reputation among residents and in the area at large. Work with your manager and management company on the best practices outlined above to help you avoid common roadblocks and hold more successful and productive board meetings, which can ultimately help enhance the resident experience and property values.