The central event in the business operation of any community is the meeting of the board of directors. Whether the board meets monthly, quarterly or somewhere in between, this is where all of the work of the many volunteers and professionals involved in the operation of the community is weighed and the decisions made that affect every member of the community.
In order to make the most of the time available and get the most out of your meeting, everyone involved needs to be on the same page and focused on the business at hand. Pre-planning and proper preparation of meeting materials will help keep everyone moving forward. Consider implementing these tried and true processes in your future meetings:
Agree on an agenda in advance – Everything we do in life requires planning in order to be successful. Even a trip to the store needs a grocery list. The agenda is the board’s meeting plan and the board should settle on it before the meeting materials are published. Be realistic in the number of items that can be covered in the time allowed—try setting the amount of time the board will allow for an item and stick to it. Resist the urge to add agenda items on meeting night. Spur-of-the-moment additions will result in a lot of discussion without the research that is necessary to make an effective decision.
Move the important stuff up front – As the meeting moves forward, board members tend to get tired and don’t focus well. Try moving the decision items to the top of the agenda when everyone is fresh and focused. The discussion items can wait until later in the meeting or can even be moved to the next meeting if time is short.
Read the meeting materials thoroughly before the meeting – Just as you read a map to decide the best course on a long trip, read your meeting materials ahead of time so you will know what the issues are. Pre-reading allows board members to identify questions prior to the meeting and communicate them to the manager so he or she has time to get answers or perform additional research prior to the meeting.
Set the pace and the rules governing the meeting – Many boards use Robert’s Rules of Order to provide a framework for an orderly meeting. Whether your board decides to uses a variation of Robert’s Rules or not, basic meeting rules and courtesy to fellow members is a necessity. Limit discussion to what is necessary and try not to argue with your fellow board members or members of the audience. The president chairs the meeting and shouldn’t be afraid to bring business to a halt if absolutely necessary but it is each board member’s responsibility to act within the rules.
Time is a precious commodity and should be used wisely. Better meeting planning will result in better decisions, shorter meetings and a greater sense of confidence in the board in the eyes of the residents of the community.
Jim Nitschke, CMCA®, AMS® , PCAM®
Senior Community Manager
Community Management Corporation