Part One – Board of Directors, One Voice.
Volunteering for your community association can be both a challenging and rewarding experience.
A key component to a Harmonious Board is speaking with one voice to the community. A board should discuss and debate issues from each member’s perspective but once a motion is voted on or an issue is decided a Harmonious Board will speak with one voice to the community at large. Individual opinions will be set aside and the majority decision of the board will be supported by the entire board.
A Harmonious Board will always place the interest of the Community before individual desires or agendas. Harmonious Boards adopt a community mission statement and goals then work toward achieving positive results for the community. Fiduciary responsibility is understood and constantly thought of in the decision making process by a members of a Harmonious Board. On a Harmonious Board individual members treat each other and residents with respect, empathy and understanding.
Conducting meetings in an open environment, soliciting feedback from residents and maintaining open lines of communication with the community will result in Community Harmony.
Harmonious Board members project a positive example for all to see.
Part Two – Community Involvement, Join the Choir.
When residents are positively engaged in their community the community thrives.
One aspect of a Harmonious Community Association is a committee structure. The board of directors should know which committees are mandated by the Declaration and which are needed to support the needs of the community. Once a committee is established there should be an effort to recruit members for participation.
There are typically three types of committees. A committee mandated by the community’s Declaration, such as the Architectural Controls Committee. A committee created for a specific benefit to the community, such as a Social Committee. Finally, there is the ad-hoc committee. This committee is formed by the board for a specific purpose and has a beginning and ending date to serve its purpose. If a board wishes to seek community input on adopting a pet policy, it may create a Pet Policy Task Force or Committee to achieve community input. The group would meet for a specified period of time and report its recommendations to the board regarding a pet policy. Once the report is provided to the board the group no longer exists.
A board should always provide a committee with structure. The committee needs a statement to its purpose, the scope of responsibility, and who is assigned to the committee. These directives will come from the board and/or the community Declaration. For example, when establishing a Social Committee a board could create the following statement. The Harmonious Folks Condo Association Board of Directors is establishing a Social Committee. The Social Committee will be charged with establishing an annual calendar of community events and facilitating the events to build a sense of community for all our residents. The committee will conduct an open monthly meeting, appoint its own chairperson, provide meeting minutes to the board on a monthly schedule, maintain established budgeted expense guidelines for social events, and seek resident participation. Ms. Jones, the Board Secretary, will be the Board Liaison to the Social Committee for the upcoming year. Any interested resident of Harmonious Folks is encouraged to participate. Each committee created by the Board will need the appropriate statement of purpose to ensure its success.
Once a committee is established it does not have to last forever, unless dictated by the Declaration. If community involvement or interests in a committee ends, then discharge the committee. When things change and new interest surfaces the committee can be reconstituted at a later time.
Participation by residents on committees provides an avenue for all voices to be heard. Bringing various voices together in a positive manner can lead to beautiful harmony for a community.
Part Three – The Golden Rule, Watch your Pitch.
Serving on a community association Board of Directors can be a very thankless undertaking. Most homeowners are unaware of the efforts and time a board member may give to a community. Quite frankly, most do not care.
When you are giving your all and working for the betterment of a community you will have naysayers. It is important that board members remember to treat neighbors as they would like to be treated. When approached by a resident who is venting or complaining about “the mean ole Board”, take a deep breath, let them vent and do not take it personally. Once the homeowner has expressed their concern, it is best to invite them to a future board meeting to discuss their concern with the entire board. In these situations it is best to be polite, non-defensive and empathetic toward the homeowner who has captured your attention. If you want to escalate the situation and bring more condemnation to the board of directors all you need to do is argue with or shut down the homeowner who is complaining. Once again, let them vent, show some empathy and provide them the avenue of meeting with the entire board. Taking a step back from a possible confrontational situation will usually help to build harmony with the person who seeks to express their point of view.
Residents should also realize that when they run into board members out in the community, that those individuals are neighbors who volunteer their time to serve the community. If you have an issue that you want to discuss, you should ask the board member if it is a good time to chat before you unload your issue on that person. Board members have the right to enjoy living in their community without being accosted when out and about. Board members like harmony too.
Part Four – Communication, Bridge to Finale.
How unfortunate it would be if a group of beautiful voices reached perfect harmony and no one ever heard it.
A Community Association should share its successes. Whether it is at an annual meeting, community forum, through a community newsletter or via a community website –sing about the positive things that are happening within your community.
One very successful Community Association Best Practice is acknowledgement of community volunteers during an annual meeting or other event. If your budget allows, purchase inexpensive award trophies or recognition items and give them out to the volunteers as they are recognized and thanked during the annual meeting or other event.
When neighbors see others being recognized for their volunteer efforts in the community, they tend to also want to volunteer for the community.
Not only is it harmonious to communicate the positives of your community but you should also keep the homeowners aware of concerns or negative issues facing your community. These types of communications should be provided in an objective and factual manner.
Typically, communities that use websites, newsletters, email blasts, quarterly forums or other avenues to communicate with the homeowners are harmonious communities.
Take a Bow
When a Board of Directors communicates as one voice and seeks community input through committees while treating everyone with dignity chances are you will have a Harmonious Community.