Common Mistakes Condo Board Members Make (and How to Avoid Them!)
It’s true that we probably learn best from our own mistakes. However, as a condo board member, you probably would prefer to avoid mistakes entirely that could adversely affect your community. After all, you’ve chosen to volunteer your time and provide leadership to enhance your residents’ lifestyle, protect the condo corporation’s investments and improve your community. So how can you avoid the kinds of common board member mistakes others have made?
An experienced community manager can provide plenty of insight on what not to do as a board member. These professionals have worked with many different types of condo board members and can clue you in on the condo board member mistakes they have witnessed. In this article, we discuss four of the most common condo board member mistakes and offer recommendations to help you avoid making the same ones.
Mistake: Becoming power hungry
Some condo board members seem to thrive on power. As a result, they make decisions independently and disregard the need for board approval. For example, they might negotiate with a vendor, discuss a legal issue with a condo owner or tell landscapers or other staff what to do without consulting with the other board members. Not only does this violate their bylaws, but it can also create liability issues for the entire condo corporation.
Solution: Remember it’s about the common interest of your community
Remember that your role as a board member is to put the common interest of your community ahead of your own interests, and this is best done when your board functions as a unit. Do not make unilateral decisions that you are not authorized to make. Instead, discuss important issues with the other board members, and look to your bylaws for guidance on how and when to bring a decision up for a vote.
Mistake: Getting impatient
Board members who have served for a long time may find that they deal with the same types of problems repeatedly. The condo owner raising the issue may be different, but the situation isn’t. Understandably, it can be frustrating to address the same thing repeatedly. However, taking out your frustration on someone who simply needs your help is not productive.
Solution: Shift your perspective
When faced with a common complaint from a new party, it’s important to keep in mind that to the resident, this issue is legitimate, new and personal. Shift your perspective slightly so that you can see the situation as an opportunity to help a concerned neighbour rather than as just another variation of the same old problem. A good condominium management company can also help you address any ongoing situations so that you won’t have to keep revisiting them. If a common issue is consistently brought to the attention of the board by different residents, it might be worth determining if a new rule needs to be written to speak to the issue or if sending community wide communication regarding the issue would do the trick.
Mistake: Neglecting to explain a “no” vote
When a board member votes “no” on a measure without providing an explanation, the other board members may interpret that vote negatively. For example, they may attribute the dissent to inflexibility, defiance or disrespect.
Solution: Provide a brief explanation
To avoid misperceptions about why you voted “no”, explain your vote. Without taking too much time, elaborate on your concerns and your view of the condo corporation’s future. Your intention should not be to change anyone’s mind; you are simply enabling the other board members to understand your perspective.
Make it a regular part of your meetings to have a discussion period following a “no” vote—even if you only allot a very short amount of time to it—and urge dissenters to use it. Encouraging discussion of diverse viewpoints creates an atmosphere of openness, prevents misunderstandings and helps you have more effective board meetings.
Mistake: Holding a grudge
There will inevitably be times when a board member is unhappy with a decision that the condo board makes. Although no one expects that member to jump for joy, being a sore loser is both inappropriate and unproductive. Still, there are board members who will hold a grudge, display outright resentment or refuse to support a measure that they opposed. At its worst, this behavior can lead to dysfunction within the board.
Solution: Treat your board operations like a business
In business while you may not agree with a decision that is made you would support it because it is expected of you as a professional. This is why treating board operations like a business can help avoid long lasting grudges and dysfunction within the board. As a board member, you have a responsibility to support the majority decision, even if you voted “no” on a particular motion. You made your views known during the discussion period, and now it is time to be a team player. If you find that a decision has created conflict among board members, seek assistance from your condo management company, if you are working with one.
Lean on Your Property Management Company’s Experience to Help Avoid Common Board Member Mistakes
Serving as a condo board member can be very rewarding but it also has its challenges. Partnering with a good property management company ensures you don’t have to face those challenges alone. Property management companies bring with them years of experience working with a variety of boards and navigating the various pitfalls boards can face. Not only can your property manager help you avoid common board mistakes, but they can be instrumental in helping your condo board resolve its conflicts by providing an unbiased, third-party perspective in the event one of these common mistakes starts to cause board dysfunction.
Through the support your property manager provides to the board, you can avoid these common mistakes, putting you in a better position to focus on achieving the objectives you’ve been elected to accomplish. For more insights into effective board leaders contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading condominium management company.