What Makes a Good Board?

In my many years of community association management, I have worked with numerous wonderful boards. And these same boards were the leaders in the most successful associations I ever managed. Their backgrounds were varied, and they all were interested in the success of their association. When I think back to what made them that successful, several things come to mind.

 

Spirited discussions were always welcomed and appreciated. The board members voiced their opinions but were never rude or disrespectful to each other. There was no yelling, and they allowed each other to speak without being interrupted. Humor was always a part of any meeting. A self-serving interest concerning any topic was not tolerated.

 

When a vote was needed, it did not have to be unanimous. The president allowed just enough time for discussion and then called for the vote. The board members in the minority vote were not angry, and they supported the decision of the entire board. They did not leave the meeting and then bad mouth the other board members to the homeowners about a decision they did not like.

 

Meetings were two hours or less. They started and ended on time. Agendas were timed, so that everyone knew the approximate length of the discussion before the vote was taken. The agenda was followed and digression did not take place. After the president called the meeting to order, the next item of business was called “Set the Agenda.” Board members were allowed to add additional agenda items for discussion purposes only. And it was rare when agenda items were tabled. The boards realized that they had to make hard decisions, and delaying the vote did not accomplish anything other than to upset owners.

 

The board members read their board packages prior to the meetings and did not walk into the room while they were opening up their envelopes. These same boards heeded the advice of the professionals. They listened to what I recommended as their manager. They respected the legal opinion provided by their attorney and the financial advice from their staff accountant and auditor. And, vendors were brought into meetings to discuss projects and contracts. The board members were successful in their own businesses, but realized that they were not the “professionals” in the community association world.

 

All in all, I have beenvery lucky in regard to the wonderful boards I had the pleasure of working with in my career. And I believe they all shared the same traits described above, which  are the same characteristics to which all board members should aspire.

 

Lou Ann Hingley, AMS, PCAM
Mid-Atlantic Management Corporation

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2 Comments

  1. CAROLYN JOHNSON
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATIOM WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN THE BYLAWS AND
    CC&R’S ARE NOT FOLLOWED.
    CAN A TASK FOECE BE FORMED FROM THE STATE YOU LIVE IN. IN ORDER
    TO EDUCATE BOARD MEMBERS.AND MONITOR BOARD MEMBERS BEHAVIOR
    ORANGE BEACH ALABAMA.

  2. Joe Mckay
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Ms. Johnson:

    I would like to respond to your inquiry. For the first part of your question:

    The Board of Directors are charged with administering the governing documents of an association. These include the State of Alabama Statutes, the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, CC&R’s and any Rules and Regulations. Boards are appointed by the developer until the Control Period expires as set forth in the bylaws or the CC&R’s. The board members are then elected by the members of the association. The board should adopt a covenant and rules and regulations enforcement policy that includes a periodic onsite review of the covenant and rules by a committee or management company. The policy should include actions to be taken if a violation is noted. Usually a warning letter setting forth the violation and a period of time to bring the violation into compliance. Additional letters can be sent. Fines, If allowed, can be levied. Hearings can be held by the board or a committee appointed by the board. Ultimately legal action might be required.

    For the second part of the question:
    The State of Alabama does not have a method of appointing a Task Force to oversee board education or behavior. Board meetings should be open to the members, but are not required by Alabama law. Most boards are elected and can be voted in or out during the annual meeting.

    The Community Association Institute (CAI) provides an Essentials Class for board members in some areas and has many resources for board members( go to: http://www.caionline.org for more information). Boards are to adhere to the highest ethical standards and are responsible for their actions. They are subject to the laws of Alabama.

    Joe Mckay
    President
    Alabama Chapter of CAI

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