In speaking with colleagues who are on-site managers for urban condominium buildings, I have noticed some common traits that we discuss related to successful volunteer board members and communities. It is my belief that when board members understand their role and work in partnership with a licensed professional community manager, the association can thrive as a pleasant and enjoyable place to live.
It could be said that sought after communities have Board Members that…
1) Take Ownership
The board as a group or as individuals takes the time to walk the property and inspect areas for upkeep, maintenance, condition and curb appeal. Although the property may have an on-site manager, board members will occasionally inspect their “home” to ensure the property is in the expected condition. A fresh set of eyes inspecting a property is never a negative.
Rarely do they abstain from voting on issues and they always reveal any conflicts of interest. They take ownership of their role and participate in the decision-making process.
2) Understand Partnership
The board understands the role of the on-site manager is in partnership with the board of directors. The manager is expected to facilitate the directives of the board and enforce community rules, regulations, etc. They treat the manager and staff as professionals and expect residents in the community to do the same. The manager’s advice is welcomed and considered when making decisions affecting the community.
They do not ask or expect the staff to bend the rules for them or provide special treatment. If anything, they follow the rules more stringently than most.
3) Are Inclusive
The board encourages participation by all homeowners within the community. They do not restrict participation and do their best to provide a sense of community to all with whom they come in contact. Feedback is welcomed and the board members do not take criticisms personally. They are respectful of differing opinions.
They create committees to achieve resident input for assistance with governing the community.
4) Communicate Well and Consistently
Board members make themselves available to the community. They may reply directly to an inquiry or at a minimum direct the person with an inquiry to the property manager. They publish a newsletter or communicate directly with the homeowners on a regular basis. The board communications are separate from any notices that the property manager may distribute to the community.
The board speaks with one voice. When in the community they do not denigrate the other board members if they disagree with a majority board decision.
5) Understand Fiduciary Duty
The members serving on the board understand that they are the individuals in whom the community has placed the utmost trust and confidence to manage and protect their property and money. The obligation to act for the benefit of all members of the community is always in the forefront of the decision-making process. They willingly sign a Code of Ethics or similar document when elected to the board.
They do not seek board election for personal agendas nor do they tolerate those who may.
These individuals also seek educational opportunities to assist them in governing or managing their communities. There are various board training classes provided through Community Associations Institute, community association focused legal firms and management companies.
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