Unfortunately the role of an HOA Board Member doesn’t exactly come with an instruction manual. Most new board members didn’t major in Home Owner’s Associations, and usually don’t receive proper training either. To top it off, the position comes with significant commitment for volunteer gig. This doesn’t set up the well intentioned but inexperienced board member for success and often leads to an early burn out.
Set some guidelines as a Board to insure that new board members can hit the ground running… in the right direction.
Here’s some things you’ll want to establish:
1) Expected Attendance
As I said, becoming a Board Member is a big commitment – mostly with respect to time. Be clear about how often your board meets and establish that members should be aiming to attend just about all of them. Participation is the most important expectation to establish off the bat.
2) Provide a Background
Before a new board member can be productive (ie is allowed to actively participate), they should be given a copy of your association’s governing documents and past meeting minutes. Make this a habit, establish it as a requirement and encourage questions.
3) Establish Priorities
Your Homeowner’s Association comes first. It’s that simple. As a Board Member you’ve been entrusted with the operation of the Association and are required to act in its best interest as a whole – not yours and not your neighbor’s. Board Members should be forbidden to accept gifts, tips or favors from people in exchange for influencing decisions. No homeowner, board member or contractor should ever receive any special treatment.
4) Seek Competitive Bids
To help insure there is no special treatment, make it policy that your board must solicit competitive bids and vote collectively before a decision is made.
5) Know the team
Not just fellow Board Members, either. Each new Member should be given a list and introduced to contractors and vendors that work with your association – CPAs, attorneys, landscapers, contractors, property managers, etc. Each Member should be empowered and comfortable picking up the phone to call in support from the extended team.
6) Stick together
The Board must always reach collective decisions. Board business should only be discussed in meeting and recorded as minutes. Voting establishes a consensus and everyone (even those who disagree) should support the outcome.
7) Disclose, Disclose, Disclose
Is your cousin providing the common area furniture? Ideally he’s not but if he is, make sure to disclose anything that may be a conflict of interest. When in doubt – disclose it.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg but hopefully you can see where we’re going with this. If you don’t already have guidelines and a process for welcoming new Board Members, take some time at your next meeting to bring it up. Taking a little time now to plan ahead will produce active, productive Members in the future.