Getting people excited about sitting on their building’s condo Board of Directors can be a bit of a tough sell – and honestly, we can’t say that we blame anyone for being reluctant to make the commitment. Condo boards have earned themselves a bit of a bad rap. Oftentimes, all that residents hear about arethe horror stories: hours upon hours of work each week, mountains of thankless tasks to slog through, and AGMs that seem to stretch on for millennia! Sure sounds like something condo owners will be lining up around the block to sign up for, doesn’t it??
The truth of the matter is, though, that far from being the wretched, miserable chore that we described above, sitting on a condo board can often be a rewarding, engaging experience, and really shouldn’t involve that much extra volunteer work at all. If your board sounds closer to the former description above than the latter, you might be surprised to learn that the issue isn’t necessarily with condo boards in general, but might be more specific to how your building’s board happens to be running. And that’s what we’re here to chat about today: how to build a more efficient and rewarding condo board.
The best, most effective condo boards are the ones that are the most engaged. If your board is connected to the heartbeat of your condo complex, you’ll find that not only is it better able to serve the residents who live there, but that being a board member is much less of a chore than it might be otherwise. An engaged and active board makes life better for everyone – not just board members! If you see an opportunity to drive this sort of community connectivity in your own condo complex, don’t just sit there waiting for someone else to do it. Jump in feet-first, and take an active role in making your condo board – and the place you live – a better place to be.
No matter how much your board might want to be engaged and active, it won’t have a hope of being successful if its internal operations aren’t locked down and on-point. “Sure,” you might be thinking, “that sounds fantastic, but how do we deal with Steve when he gets all huffy and bossy about things?” Well, we’re glad you asked, because most boards have had to deal with their very own Steve at one time or another. If you find your board constantly being bogged down by conflicts and “Steves,” take a moment at the top of your next meeting to go over some ethics standards and codes of conduct. Simply spending the time to address the fact that board members need to be courteous and work together in order to get anything done can be a game-changer, and can help your board focus on what needs to be done to solve the problems of tomorrow, rather than being distracted by the petty issues of today.
If you’re looking to build a better board, you’ll also need to adapt better ways of communicating. More and more condo buildings are moving towards online HOA platforms like GeniePad in order to keep board members and residents in the loop. Your condo might also want to consider starting a Facebook discussion group for board business and broader, building-wide communication. Digital newsletters or their more traditional paper-based counterparts are also great approaches to keeping residents caught up with the most recent board-related happenings. If your board has a tough time communicating with residents (or with itself), take it upon yourself to grab a seat at the table and bring these ideas to them – you can be sure your whole building will thank you!
Now that your board has fought to find itself on the path to success, it’s important to keep things moving forward and on the straight-and-narrow. It doesn’t take much for a board to start to fall apart, and before you know it, you’ll be back at square one, with angry condo residents banging at the doors and windows with torches and pitchforks (and where did they even get medieval-style torches, anyway??).
Start by making sure the workload stays manageable. A resident sitting on a functional, healthy board shouldn’t be doing much more than about an hour of condo-related work each week. Any more than that, and you might want to take a look at how the work is being distributed. Just because someone’s a hard worker doesn’t mean they should have to shoulder the majority of the tasks at hand – there’s no quicker way to burn-out your best and brightest board members than by saddling them with more than their fair share of work. Sort out roles and determine who should be responsible for what, and your board members should feel far more comfortable with the amount of time they’re expected to put into their positions each week.
Finally, it can sometimes be easy for boards to fall into the habit of meeting far less frequently than they should. There’s a simple trick to avoiding this pitfall, though: just always be sure to have another meeting on the books. Before each gathering is adjourned, set the date for the next meeting. That way, you won’t suddenly look at the calendar and realize that it’s been months since the board last got together.
Above all, though, the best advice we can give you is to join your board. If it’s running smoothly, your efforts will help it find even greater success – and if it needs a helping hand, you’ve now got the perfect step-by-step guide to help get it back on track.
Drop us a line at Catalyst Condo Management if your board is still having troubles even despite your best efforts, and we’ll do what we can to help you get things whipped back into shape.