Effective Business Communications, Part Five

Relations: Effective Business Communications, Part Five

by Betsy Barbieux, CFCAM / Published June 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the final part in a five-part series on Effective Business Communications. The previous four parts were published in the February–May issues of FLCAJ. To read those articles, please visit www.fcapgroup.com/flcaj/flcaj-articles.

Agendas

Now that you are presenting yourself as a professional with polished manners and dress, e-mails and letters that are clear, concise, and perfectly punctuated, you are ready to tackle a meeting. Managing a community association means you will be preparing for, attending, making presentations, perhaps taking and preparing the minutes, and beginning preparation for the next meeting. It seems to be a never-ending cycle. Communications to owners and the board about upcoming meetings should be clear and concise.

Florida law for community associations requires that an agenda with specifically designated items be prepared for owners, board, and committee meetings. Depending on the type of meeting, the notices are either mailed or posted in advance of the meetings with the agenda. This gives owners sufficient time to prepare their comments to a specific agenda item. Owners in attendance at all meetings may make comments on specifically designated agenda items only. Therefore, unlike other business meeting agendas, our agendas do not include “New Business: Other.”

The board should establish policies and procedures for owners’ comments with specifics for how those wishing to make comments are made known, when during the meeting are comments heard, where do the owners stand when offering their comments, and how long an owner may speak. Presidents/Chair-persons should note the statute only permits owners’ comments; there is no requirement for discussion or answers and no “open forum” type sessions. Comments are never recorded in the minutes.

What are the considerations for preparing an agenda?

  • Determine the purpose of the meeting: Owners’ meeting or board or committee meeting?
  • Determine the time allotted for the meeting (the topics to be addressed at owners’ meetings are usually specified in the bylaws—be sure to check)
  • Determine specific issues/topics the group needs to address such as voting on a contract or non-budgeted items
  • Is there a specific person to present this issue/topic?
  • List the issues/topics in logical order of their significance
  • Allot time for owners’ comments before discussion of the topic or during the discussion by group members

A sample Cooperative Shareholders’ Meeting Agenda could include the following:

Agenda

(Date, Time, and Location)

  1. Call the Meeting to Order
  2. Roll Call, Certify Proxies, Verify Quorum
  3. Proof of Notice of Meeting
  4. Reading and Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
  5. President’s Remarks
  6. Manager’s Report
  7. Appointment of Counting Committee; Last Call for Ballots
  8. Committee Reports
    1. Finance Committee
    2. Architectural Review Committee
    3. Insurance Committee
  9. Vote to Waive or Reduce the Reserves
  10. Vote to Raise or Lower Financial Reporting Requirements
  11. Vote to Amend Declaration
  12. Vote on IRS Revenue Ruling 70-604 for Treatment of Excess Assessments
  13. Vote to Approve Budget (if required by the documents)
  14. Report of Counting Committee; Introduction of Newly-Elected Directors
  15. Adjournment

A sample Board Meeting Agenda could include the following:

Agenda

(Date, Time, and Location)

  • Call to Order
  • Reading and Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
  • Manager’s Report
  • President’s Report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • ARC Committee Report—Action requested�
    • Approval of modification at 20B/Willow Street
    • Approval of modification at 14C/Peach Street
  • Security Gate Contract—present, discuss, vote to approve
    • Owners’ comments heard
  • Appoint Budget Committee
    • Owners’ comments heard
  • Discuss issues with landscaping
    • Owners’ comments heard
  • Adjournment

This notice and agenda is posted 48 hours in advance in accordance with Florida Statutes.

Owners have the right to attend all meetings of the board of directors and to make comments on any identified agenda item. Owners’ comments will be given at the lectern in front of the board table; limited to three minutes each; no trading or swapping of minutes; comments limited to specifically identified agenda item.

Betsy Barbieux

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM

Florida CAM Schools

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. For more than 15 years, Barbieux has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Barbieux is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.

In conclusion, communicating efficiently and effectively is not easy. Whether the communication mode is verbal, visual, or written there is always room for misunderstanding and confusion. Clarity with understanding so business can be conducted and goals accomplished should be the focus. Be sure to periodically review these 10 principles of good communication.

  • Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating
  • Examine the true purpose of each communication
  • Consider the total physical and human setting whenever you communicate
  • Consult with others, where appropriate, in planning communications
  • Be mindful of the overtones as well as the basic content of your message
  • Take the opportunity (when it arises) to convey something of help or value to the receiver
  • Follow up your communication
  • Communicate for tomorrow as well as today
  • Be sure your actions support your communication
  • Seek not only to be understood but to understand—be a good listener

Last, but not least, ask yourself, what do I want the outcome to be? What is my ultimate goal? Is it to help or harm? Will I regret what I am about to communicate?