So now you’re on the board. What can you expect? While the process may differ by state and by mandates in your governing documents, here are the typical “next steps”.
Immediately following the adjournment of the annual meeting in which new board members were elected, the manager or past president/board member serving another term will open the organizational meeting. The board will now choose the officers of their association. Most commonly, there are only four officer positions: President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. In some cases the governing documents allow for an Assistant Treasurer or Assistant Secretary to fill in the position if the officer is unavailable, or that the association may combine the secretary and treasurer positions. The assistants do not have voting power and will not count towards quorum of the board.
During the first week of the new board of directors, many items need to be reviewed such as existing contracts, delinquencies, financials and any immediate problems that the board needs to quickly address.
An introduction letter announcing the names of the board might be sent out either by the board president or the association manager. This letter may relate the goals of the new board and the future that the board envisions for the association.
The board should appoint/reappoint liaisons to standing association committees, and meet with their committees to discuss the future direction of the committee.
One of the most important aspects of serving on a board is the opportunity to COMMUNICATE. When a board communicates frequently and candidly, rumors and complaints are few. Newsletters, websites, owner education seminars, and small “get-togethers” are all ways to increase communication.
In summary, serving on a board of directors for an association is a volunteer position, a sometimes selfless task. You can either be treated as royalty or as an employee, but either way you have accepted a fiduciary responsibility to protect the association, ensure wise spending, and maintain the value of the property by regular maintenance and no “Band-Aid” repairs. Be prepared to make all types of decisions. You have an obligation to act in the best interest of all owners in your association. Complete agenda items and make decisions at your meetings; don’t let issues drag on for months. The owners in your association elected you to represent them, so show them you can. Be aware that owner expectations are high but their financial pockets are small, and it is your responsibility to be prudent with spending yet still maintain the quality of life in your association. It is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses in your community and to work within the parameters of the budget. Know your governing documents and be consistent in your actions and decisions. Board members are humans; you may make a mistake. Acknowledge it, fix it, and move on.
An ideal board member:
- Has a strong interest in the community as a whole;
- Is able to look at the big picture;
- Can differentiate between “pet peeves” and major problems;
- Is not interested in actually managing the community, but allows the manager and staff to do their jobs and works as part of a team with their fellow board members;
- Never makes a decision based on his or her own likes or dislikes but rather on what is best for the community;
- Must be willing to devote a reasonable amount of time to being a director;
- Understands that majority rules and no one board member can make decisions alone.
The challenge for every board of directors would be to practice justice in governing, be prudent in business decisions and search for harmony in their community.