Essential Rules for Boards

Essential Rules for Boards

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published April 2021

Photo by Frazao

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.

Rule 1—Responding to others in person.

     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.

Rule 2—Make eye contact.

     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.

Rule 3—Congratulate others.

     Be gracious and happy when good things happen to others. 

Rule 4—Respect others’ comments, opinions, and ideas.

     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.

Rule 5— If you win, do not brag; if you lose, do not show anger.

     Whether the vote on a motion is unanimous or a split vote, when you leave the meeting, all board members are of one accord.

Rule 6—If you are asked a question in conversation, ask a question in return.

     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.

Rule 8—Do not show disrespect with gestures.

     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.

Rule 15—Do not ask for a reward.

     Board members serve in a volunteer position. There is no compensation, remuneration, or pay. Board members should receive no special favors.

Rule 16—You must complete your homework every day.

     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.

Rule 18—Be as organized as possible.

     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.

Rule 21—Follow the specific classroom protocols.

     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.

Rule 33—When meeting new people, shake hands and repeat their names.

     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.

Rule 45—Never cut in line.

     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.

Rule 48—If anyone is bullying you, let me know.

     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.

Rule 49—Stand up for what you believe in.

     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.

Rule 51—Live so that you will never have regrets.

     Act with decency and decorum at board meetings. Don’t do anything that would embarrass yourself or your family members. Maintain your good name.

Rule 52—Learn from your mistakes and move on.

     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).

Rule 53—No matter the circumstances, always be honest.

     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.

Rule 55—Be the best person you can be.

     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.

Rule 54 seems to be a fitting conclusion. Carpe Diem—Seize the day! 

     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, call (352) 326-8365, or visit