By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published April 2021
Disney Teacher of the Year Award winner for 2001, Ron Clark, wrote The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child. In today’s environment, it seems reasonable to ask some adults to apply these “rules” to their lives. For community association board members, these are good rules for community association living and governance.
At board meetings, don’t expect other board members to read your mind. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t withhold information. All board members should participate fully in the meeting. If one person dominates the conversation, it is not a board meeting. It is a one-man show and should not be tolerated.
Board members should sit facing each other at a board meeting. Do not sit in a panel style. You cannot do business with people whose eyeballs you cannot see. The meeting is for the board, it is not an informational meeting for the owners. Create other opportunities for owners to receive information and ask questions or make their concerns known to management. Board meetings are not the place for owners’ questions and answers.
Be gracious and happy when good things happen to others.
Allow other members on the board to voice their opinions, discuss, and debate. Shutting down the discussion and rushing to a conclusion will not benefit the community. Don’t spend time at a board meeting gossiping about your neighbors. There is enough social media for those topics. Stick to business.
Whether the vote on a motion is unanimous or a split vote, when you leave the meeting, all board members are of one accord.
At board meetings, learn to verbally volley. Be sure you understand what the other person said by repeating back to the person what you think was said. Getting a clear understanding of the opinions of others will make for a better board decision.
A huff and a puff, folded arms, eyes that roll, and hand and finger gestures are disrespectful and childish during a board meeting. Board members are all equal. Give each one respect and the time to voice their opinion.
Board members serve in a volunteer position. There is no compensation, remuneration, or pay. Board members should receive no special favors.
When you receive your board package (agenda and meeting notice with all supporting information and reports), do your homework and read it all before the meeting. Come to the meeting prepared.
Keep a copy of your governing documents in a notebook or stored electronically and bring that information to each meeting. You will need to refer to it periodically to make sure you are following the requirements for your community.
If you have any level of professional management, owners’ maintenance and violation issues should be directed through the manager or staff. That should be the chain of command. Operations and maintenance go more smoothly if board members will let managers do their jobs.
If you don’t already know your fellow board members, make a point of spending a little personal time with them. You may find you have more in common than you thought.
Be a good neighbor. As a board member, you should set the standard and follow the rules, covenants, and bylaw provisions. Don’t be the number one rules’ violator.
Bullies live in every community. Sometimes they serve on the board of directors. When bullies disrupt meetings and use intimidating and threatening language with owners and employees, boards should contact their liability insurance agents and attorneys for the appropriate course of action. Not addressing the issue could leave the board members vulnerable to lawsuits for allowing a hostile work environment. In the case of assaults, call 911 immediately.
Many board members have years of work and professional experience and can provide valuable information when discussing major projects or setting policies and procedures. Use the knowledge bank you have for your association. But be aware, the way you handled roofing and paving projects in New Jersey will not apply to Florida roofing and paving projects! So, not all former knowledge and experience is useful.
Act with decency and decorum at board meetings. Don’t do anything that would embarrass yourself or your family members. Maintain your good name.
Board members will make unwise decisions that cost the association unnecessary dollars, extend the time for construction projects, and land them in court. Learn from those mistakes, seek qualified professionals to help in that decision making, attend board certification classes, and hire a licensed manager (CAM).
If you don’t tell a lie, you don’t have to remember what you told everyone. The story will be the same every time.
Owners in community associations should take their turn and serve on their board of directors at least once. You will learn that being a volunteer board member is not an easy task, and you will appreciate the service of future board members.
Be sure to spend more time doing what you love than hovering around the association office or entangling yourself with daily operations. Leave those day-to-day operations to your CAM.
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA
Owner, Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, 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. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM on YouTube. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, call (352) 326-8365, or visit www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.