The Concept of Core Competency
Running an association like a business is worth the effort.
Operating a successful business is easier said than done, especially a business that is run primarily by volunteer homeowners, who may have the passion, but may not have the experience or skill set to bring to the table. But association board members benefit from engaging in certain organizational and business practices to ensure that their association is running smoothly and effectively, like a core-competent organization.
In her book, Mastering the Business of Your Association, PeytonBolin founder Jane Bolin explores the many issues regarding why most community association boards aren’t working as well as they should and could. By following her targeted core operating practices and guidelines, any organization can run more like a successful business.
Community associations are defined as nonprofits; however, like a business, these associations are responsible for budgets and bank accounts that can be quite large. Associations must also maintain and hire management and staff, and select a variety of vendors. Associations are on the forefront of maintaining (or increasing) the community’s property values and quality of life, and elected officers are entrusted to put the well-being of the association above their own personal gain. Officers and board members should abide by the same rules they are enforcing. That is “good” and legal business protocol.
Successful business boards are not driven by emotion; therefore, neither should community associa-tions be driven by “feelings” that will inevitably compromise results. Why do association officers and board members, many of which are successful in their own business arenas, become emotional asso-ciation members? It’s personal. It is their home. Having outside resources, like general counsel or a Community Association Manager, can help keep organizational practices and rules in focus. These trusted advisors focus on facts, which mitigate emotion, and bring the business at hand back into view.
Most community association board members volunteered for positions because they care about fi-nances. No homeowner wants maintenance charges to rise or property quality to diminish. Yet, the truth is, without regular and prudent investing (spending money), property values will decline, and maintenance charges will soar. Smart businesses know they must spend money to make money. So too should association boards. Maintaining landscaping and common areas, carrying the proper insur-ance policies, and thoroughly researching contractors before committing to repair projects are all ways to invest in the association, and its homeowners, while still being fiscally prudent.
At PeytonBolin, we understand that operating community associations can be complicated. That’s why our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys are here to help with all aspects of running your association as a successful business.
A Guide to Avoid Criminal Charges as a Condominium Director in Florida
2017 new legislative changes
Yeah. This a bit tongue and cheek, but the fact of the matter is that Florida law governing condominiums has changed. Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade Grand Jury filed a report about the status of condominium association governance and the ability of the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes to regulate the boards and management companies. I wrote an article published in the Florida Community Association Journal about the potential impact of the recommendations of that report. Mostly, my concern is the chilling effect on owners who might think twice about volunteering for the board with these new criminal penalties. After a few renditions of the original bill, HB 1237 was signed by the Governor and is effective July 1, 2017. Now that we have the law in place, I’ll explain how easy it is avoid jail time.
I’m going to explain what you need to know, but I find it’s always best to start with the foundation. Florida law, before these changes, had provisions that outline a board member and manager’s fiduciary responsibilities. 718.111 states that all officers and directors have a fiduciary relationship to the unit owners. No officer, director, or manager may solicit, offer to accept, or accept anything of value for their benefit or their family’s benefit, from any person providing or proposing to sell services or goods to the association. The change effective July 1 is that the word ‘kickback’ was added here. It’s really a clarification – making it crystal clear that you can’t be bribed in any form or fashion, or solicit any kind of beneficial arrangement. COMMON SENSE! If you do… you may be subject to a civil and now a criminal penalty! Don’t worry. The exception here is trade show or educations programs, and the stuff vendors give you when you are participating in them.
The Condominium Act also references 617.0830 of the not-for-profit portion of Florida Statutes and states that all of the officers, directors, and agents (property managers), shall act in good faith, with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the association. Okay. This sounds pretty reasonable, and in fact it is. The statute goes on to state that a breach of this standard would be a violation of criminal code, a transaction where a benefit was derived either directly or indirectly, or a reckless act in bath faith with malicious purpose and with disregard of human rights, safety, or property! Again, pretty clear. A board member will be in breach of his or her fiduciary duty if their actions amount to a crime, or a kickback situation, or complete disregard for human rights, safety, or property.
The major changes this legislative session come right after this section and mirror what the Miami Dade Grand Jury report suggested:
1. The forgery of a ballot or a voting certificate. If you do this, it will be a third degree felony.
2. If you steal or embezzle funds, you will be charged with a felony! The degree of felony depends on how much you steal.
3. The destruction or refusing to allow inspection of official records is considered tampering with evidence and is punishable as felony in the third degree or the obstruction of justice!
4 . If you are charged by information or indictment, you will lose your board director position and it will be filled by the remaining board members by appointment.
And good news. The law is clear that anyone with a pending criminal charge may not be appointed or elected to office, and cannot have access to official records except by court order. So, just as a quick aside, is anyone else wondering when pending criminal charges meant you were guilty? I thought every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty? I suspect we’ll have lots of bills to fix this current legislation. Why do I say that? A criminal charge could be driving too fast or not having proof of insurance. This is TERRIBLE legislative drafting.
So how do you avoid criminal penalties? This is a two-part answer. The first part is easy. Do the right thing! Don’t steal. Don’t forge signatures. The second part requires you understand the system and process of the association or your management company in regard to official records and how records are kept. The first thing to identify is: Where the records are kept? If they are digital, on what servers? Who has access to them? Are there backups? If you are encountering the request for official records, the association only has 10 days to respond. Who gets those requests? Who is ultimately (and I mean 100%) responsible for making sure a response is sent in 10 days? You need to get curious about how the systems work, and if you find there isn’t a system, then this is your opportunity to get that cleaned up. After all, you don’t want to have any chance of being charged with tampering with evidence or the destruction of justice.
If you have questions about this article, contact me [email protected].
The Recipe for Better Association Board Meetings
5 ingredients for a more efficient community association board meeting
Let’s face it: community association board meetings can be difficult to get through. Bring a room full of volunteers together and you’re likely to get as many opinions as occupants in the room. It’s usually not a recipe for a quick and efficient board meeting. Organization and planning are essential in order to avoid a disaster. According to Neighbor Huddle, “When your time is spent in unorganized, lengthy, and chaotic meetings, not only is the enthusiasm for active participation of current board members diminished, but you also discourage many future volunteers from sitting on the board.”
We put together 5 ingredients to help you get the business of the association done in a timely, more efficient manner.
1. Plan the menu
Nothing can throw a meeting into chaos more than going into it without a strategy. Develop a plan that outlines exactly what you need to accomplish. Then put together a packet and send it out to each board member well in advance of the meeting.
Meeting packet checklist:
# Previous meeting minutes
# Current financial statements
# Items that require action or a decision
# Items from the administrative and maintenance calendars
# Information or research needed to make a decision
2. Write down the recipe
Every board meeting must have a written agenda prepared by the president of the association, which should be posted or sent to each board member in advance.
A proper agenda should include the following:
# Call to Order
# Approval of Previous Minutes
# Treasurer’s Report with summary of cash balances & expenditures
# Property Manager’s (or President’s) report
# Committee Report(s)
# Old Business
# New Business
3. Bring all the ingredients to the meeting
Make sure you have done any research on important matters and include that information in the advance packet. This will ensure the board is able to make good business decisions. You don’t want to waste time during the meeting, or worse, put off a decision because you haven’t done efficient research.
4. Plan for open items
According to NeighborHuddle.com, “The single most effective strategy that the board can use to run an organized and effective meeting is to insist that any items open for discussion at the meeting be submitted in writing early enough to be presented in the package.”
Again, you’ll need to make sure that submitted proposals have all documentation needed in order to make a decision, including information regarding expenditures, bids, contracts, or estimates.
5. Watch the timer
HOALeader.com recommends that you, “Tailor your agenda to the meeting, and assign time frames for agenda items.”
Determine how much time you will spend on each agenda item. In general, the Property Manager’s/President’s Report is where the bulk of the motions are made. If more than one Committee will be giving a report, factor that extra time into the agenda. During the meeting, keep track of the time and don’t let the board members go down conversational rabbit holes. Also, understand that not all the items will necessarily be resolved at this meeting. Some will have to be tabled until sufficient research is completed.
Follow this recipe and you will have a much more efficient and successful board meeting.
4 Disclosures Every Florida Real Estate Seller Must Make
Be sure you’re protected before you make that purchase.
The Sunshine State has a booming real estate market, and why not? Sun, sand, and surf are big sellers, and we have plenty of each. It’s tempting to hop into a purchase fast so you don’t miss out, but whether you’re buying residential or commercial property, there are certain obligations that you should be aware of before you sign on the dotted line. Here are four key seller obligations that need to be fulfilled before you seal the deal.
1. What’s wrong with the property
In the 1986 Florida Supreme Court landmark case, Johnson v. Davis, the court made clear that latent defects must be disclosed to the buyer prior to the seller entering into a real estate sales contract for residential property.
If the seller knows what’s wrong, he or she needs to disclose that to the buyer.
Defects include: water leaks; roof issues; asbestos, lead, and mold; electrical wiring issues, cracks in foundation; insect infestations; and issues regarding title to the home or property.
Is your dream home located in a community with a homeowners’ association? If so, according to Florida Statue 720.401, “A prospective parcel owner in a community must be presented a disclosure summary before executing the contract for sale.” (Read the necessary exact wording.)
According to Florida Statute 404.056(5), notification of existing radon gas needs to be on at least one document, form, or application executed at the time of, or prior to, contract for sale and purchase of any building or execution of a rental agreement for any building.”
The law states that the wording must contain:
“RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department.”
In a state surrounded by water, coastal erosion can be a threat. Is the real estate you’re considering partially or totally seaward of the coastal construction control line as defined in section 161.053? If so, the reseller needs to give a written disclosure statement to the prospective purchaser.
Also, according to Florida Statues: “Unless otherwise waived in writing by the purchaser, at or prior to the closing of any transaction where an interest in real property located either partially or totally seaward of the coastal construction control line as defined in s. 161.053 is being transferred, the seller shall provide to the purchaser an affidavit, or a survey meeting the requirements of chapter 472, delineating the location of the coastal construction control line on the property being transferred.”
To ensure you’re not caught by surprise when purchasing your next piece of the Sunshine State, it pays to connect with a legal firm that knows the ins and outs of Florida real estate law. At PeytonBolin we can make the selling and buying process smooth sailing – give us a call today.
What’s in Your Wallet? Why HOA Boards Can’t Take Liability Insurance Lightly.
The association board members themselves can be named in lawsuits.
A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is made up of a group of volunteer homeowners. It’s often a thankless task, where the only guaranteed reward is knowing they’ve helped maintain and improve the value of their neighborhood. The last thing your volunteer board members deserve is a personal financial loss as a result of their participation.
It’s why community associations absolutely must carry liability insurance. Lawsuits filed against HOAs and other community associations are a common occurrence. Often, one or more of the board members are named in the suit, too. The overall liability insurance policy an association carries covers lawsuits and medical expenses filed by people who are injured in the common areas maintained by the association. While that’s important, there’s a component of protection that’s even more crucial.
Individual association board member liability
Take a deep breath and relax if you’re a new HOA member. Lawsuits against individual board members are difficult to advance in court. In most cases, a lawsuit is brought against the community association as an entity. It’s not easy to prove the cause of the suit was the responsibility of a specific board member—unless there is sufficient evidence that the board member knowingly breached their fiduciary duties.
Nevertheless, it’s no reason to be lax in making sure your association has adequate liability insurance. There will still be legal costs involved. You’ll need your attorney’s assistance with the process.
Directors and Officers liability coverage
Directors and Officers (D&O) coverage is the part of the HOA liability insurance policy that protects board members themselves. It covers legal expenses that result from a lawsuit that names an individual board member.
Don’t assume your association insurance coverage includes this, or that it is adequate coverage. Task your insurance representative with making sure this important protection is in place and up to date.
The last thing you want to discover is that your assumptions of coverage are incorrect. D&O insurance policies typically cover all board members. Is a member of your board a non-owner? Check to see if the policy covers them.
Some D&O policies cover community association employees, such an administrative assistant. If you have a large HOA with extra volunteers who form committees, they also might be covered. Don’t make any assumptions. Find out.
Generally, a D&O policy pays for the legal costs and fees to defend your board members against legal actions. It also pays any judgement amount. Go over the details of the policy. Regardless of whether the lawsuit goes to court, the board member will still have to retain legal counsel. The D&O policy may only cover this if the case goes to court and there’s a final ruling.
It’s also important to know when the coverage will be paid. A board member will have to foot the bill out of their own pocket if your policy only reimburses after the conclusion of the case.
And, like most insurance policies, there will be monetary limitations to coverage. You owe it to your volunteer board members to let them know the extent of coverage they have. The D&O policy might also exclude certain types of claims. It might cover a board member’s breach of fiduciary duty—but the protection may not include negligence.
Look at the value
It’s easy to look at association liability insurance as an expense. After all, your association has to write a check for it. So, it’s also easy to search for ways to reduce the cost of maintaining HOA liability insurance by skimping on coverage. Do you really need to make sure your D&O policy also covers committed volunteers?
A single lawsuit against a board member, an employee, or anyone acting on behalf of the community association (such as members of a committee), can easily cost thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs. That dollar figure becomes exponential if there’s a damage award. Even if the lawsuit is dropped, there’ll still be attorney’s fees to pay.
The liability policy payment gets entered on your books as an expense. Consider it an investment.
Condo or coop: There’s a difference, and you should know it before you buy real estate in Florida
You can buy a condo, but you will never own your coop.
Everybody wants to live in Florida, and who can blame them? It’s gorgeous here! Pleasant weather all year long tops the list. Most housing is affordable, too. But not all real estate is created equal.
It’s important to know the difference between a condominium (condo) and a cooperative (coop) before you make a real estate purchase. Fortunately, you’ll find condos in just about every Florida community, while coops are less common. Nevertheless, you need to know what each type of real estate is. There’s a striking difference. It determines the property taxes you pay, and the type of loan you’ll need to get.
It wouldn’t be the Miami skyline without them. Condominiums in the state are governed by the Florida Condominium Act. This legislation regulates how they are treated as real estate purchases. Basically, the law provides you with what’s known as an “undivided interest” in all the common areas of the building. That can include areas such as:
- The pool
- The gym
- The parking area
You’ll own your individual unit in the building, and you’ll be responsible for paying property taxes on it. The IRS gives you a deduction for those taxes. The condominium building will require you to pay monthly dues that cover the maintenance of all the areas that fall under your “undivided interest.” This is not tax deductible.
You’ll have to qualify for a mortgage to buy a condo. When you buy the unit, you’ll receive a real estate deed. So, in many respects, buying and owning a condo is like doing the same with a single-family house. You own the property—and you will pay either a monthly condo maintenance fee, or a yearly homeowners association fee.
It’s a different story if you decide to buy a coop in Florida. You will not be a property owner. You can’t buy a coop. You instead become a shareholder in the corporation that owns the building. What this means is that you cannot use the financial instrument known as a mortgage for the purchase. You must obtain a home loan.
Wait? Isn’t that the same thing?
They are quite different. When you buy a condo, you own the physical property. You can finance the purchase with a mortgage. You immediately own the condo. The money you borrowed is not a loan, and the mortgage is an agreement that names your condo as the security that you’ll repay what was borrowed. The key thing is that you own the physical piece of property.
You must obtain a home loan—not a mortgage—to finance the purchase of a coop because you don’t actually own the property. You buy shares in the corporation that owns the building. In other words, you’re not taking out a mortgage—instead you’re taking out a loan to invest in a corporation.
Generally, all it takes is the seller to agree to your offer on a condo if you qualify for the mortgage to buy it (unless you pay cash). You can also sell it whenever you like, and profit on the equity the property has accumulated. In most cases, you’re also free to decorate or renovate your condo interior as you like. You can also decide to rent out your condo if you wish—but you’ll want to be certain of that prior to the purchase.
Things aren’t so cut-and-dry with coops. You must be approved by the coop’s board before you can become an investor and shareholder in the corporation that owns the building. And since you don’t own anything other than shares, you aren’t building any equity. You’ll still pay property taxes, though. It’ll be a percentage of the property tax assessed on the building.
However, you’ll have more to deduct in property taxes. There’ll be the interest on your home loan, as well as the interest on your portion of the corporation’s mortgage on the building. The monthly maintenance fees are also usually tax deductible.
Renovate or redecorate the interior? Better check with the coop board first. You don’t own it, remember? If you decide you want to sell, your buyer will also have to be approved by the coop board—just as you were. Finally, coops typically don’t allow rentals.
They might look the same from the outside, but a condo building and a coop building present quite a difference in what you own, how you can finance it, and to whom you can sell it. Coops sound restrictive, but there are some condos that enforce similar rules and regulations. Do your homework before you make a purchase decision.
At PeytonBolin, we understand real estate laws can be complicated. That’s why we’re here to help with all aspects of real estate, from individual ownership to community associations and more.
The Benefits of Open Community Board Meetings
Non-board members at an HOA board meeting bring several benefits
Any member of your association can attend board meetings except when the board adjourns for an executive meeting. So when your board members seem less than enthused about those non-members’ attendance, remind them of the benefits.
You develop stronger communities
When non-board members attend a HOA board meeting, it strengthens the ties that bind the community together.
People get to know each other’s names, converse more, and find out about the commonalities that draw them to the same community.
Community events, usually headed up by the community association manager, will more likely experience a boost in attendance as well. People like to spend time with people they know. And a way of getting to know each other better is through participating in board meetings together.
Actions are transparent
Nothing fosters a sense of deep curiosity like behind-the-door meetings. What secrets are board members guarding? Do board members care about the rest of the association? Who knows what board members are doing?
The board seems less like a mysterious society with secret handshakes and elusive goings-on when it is transparent in its meetings. Non-board members can observe the board in action and also relay such information to other community members who did not attend.
In other words, you foster positive word-of-mouth by letting meetings happen in plain sight.
Homeowners get more involved
When community members come to a meeting, they often begin to get more involved in other aspects of the association. That’s because they feel more emotionally vested in it.
Plus, people like a sense of ownership and sharing their talents. At a board meeting, a non-board member may hear something that’s in his field of expertise and voice solid information and feedback. Best of all, he might volunteer to head up a group to tackle a problem or boost the value of the community.
You get a greater sense of what the consensus is
“The documents may state that there are certain decisions that the board can make on their own without involving the residents,” writes Jane Bolin in her book, Mastering the Business of Your Association: No More Condo Commando. “But when you are viewing your association as a business and are interested in creating a strong community, you may want to consider opening it up for discussion before the board votes.”
”Imagine the difference that could make,” she says. “Yes, you will hear some opinions you don’t agree with, but they may add value to the conversation. In our experience, they often do. And because residents feel like they are being heard and that their opinions matter, they will want to show up at board meetings. You won’t just get the people that come for the free coffee and donuts or worse, who just want to complain; you will start to get residents showing up who are interested in sharing and contributing and may make great future board members.”
Do you want to get more from your association meetings? We can help! We specialize in community association law and are experienced in best-practices for association boards. We’ll know how to help you best run your open meetings and get the most out of your association experience.
Your Association Community Association Manager’s Role in Getting Work Done
You’ve filled the position for a community association manager…now what can you expect?
“A community association manager has the opportunity to create a sense of community that people really love and that enriches the community living experience,” writes PeytonBolin’s founder, Jane Bolin, in her book, Mastering the Business of Your Association: No More Condo Commando.
Creating that community, however, isn’t for the lazy, weak, or shy.
What your community association manager needs to do
After filling that position, the community association manager (CAM) needs to get clear about what the association wants to accomplish in the next 20, 90, and 180 days. There is a short-term outlook and the overall mission and vision for the association.
Often board members are inundated by unit owner contact and need a CAM to help support them. One of the most important tasks of the CAM role is to serve as a point of contact for the community. “Since it’s not a best-practice to have unit owners go knocking on the doors of board members to lodge complaints or request maintenance, CAMs can also serve as the buffer here,” suggests Bolin.
A successful CAM also will bear social and administrative responsibilities. Social responsibilities center on building community and having set goals to see whether the events and tasks hit the mark. For communities that currently have social committees, a CAM’s assistance in goal-setting and metrics could enhance the success and the committee members’ experience.
An engaging CAM will encourage positive real-life interactions among neighbors. It’s no easy task in the digital world, but an experience CAM will plan in-person events appropriate to their community. Those events can include block parties, classes at the community center, holiday gatherings, neighborhood BBQs, welcome wagons, and more.
Community is also fostered by online communications, so a CAM should be able to easily (and responsibly) navigate the world of social media.
Because written communication is more easily misunderstood, a CAM needs to create clear, mindful social posts that invite more bonding among neighbors.
For example, a CAM can set up a neighborhood Facebook Page, where everyone can share neighborhood events and photos, or mention upcoming events or garage sales. Just make sure that your CAM is monitoring the Facebook Page so it doesn’t become a hotbed for gossip or an online complaints window.
Keep in mind that most management contracts don’t contemplate social media, so this is an area of discussion before signing the contract!
Neighborhood newsletters can achieve the same bonding effect of social media, though without the immediacy. After discussing the purpose of the HOA newsletter and its guidelines, a CAM should be able to assemble an e-newsletter or print version on schedule.
Other administrative tasks a CAM may take on include:
- Conducting surveys. CAMs should survey the board and association periodically to learn what’s working, what’s not, and what the areas of improvement are, writes Bolin.Providing a management packet before a meeting. This packet should include financials, community occurrences, maintenance reports, and violation reports. Equally important to what’s contained in the packet is when the packet is given. The CAM should provide this to attendees prior to the meeting ─ giving members enough time to go through the materials and understand them.
- Providing a management packet before a meeting. This packet should include financials, community occurrences, maintenance reports, and violation reports. Equally important to what’s contained in the packet is when the packet is given. The CAM should provide this to attendees prior to the meeting ─ giving members enough time to go through the materials and understand them.
- Planning for an emergency. Is your community prepared for a natural or man-made disaster? Unfortunately, this task is often overlooked yet vital to maintain a sense of safety within the community. A CAM should help develop an emergency plan for the association.
How you can help your community association manager
Your CAM has many responsibilities weighing on them, and you can lighten the burden by doing a few things. One way to help is to give him/her room to get the work done.
“If you trust your manager, you’re not micromanaging their day,” states Bolin. “They know what they are accountable for and do it.”
Also, make sure you communicate clearly and reasonably with your CAM. In other words, don’t suddenly make demands that can’t be met in a reasonable time frame or suddenly ask them to take on more responsibilities that were not mentioned before the CAM filled the position.
Moreover, communication should be drama-free and not personal. In other words, if your association has concerns about how the CAM is performing duties, the communication should focus on what is not being done, how it could be done, why it needs to be done, and so forth. However, communication, even in sensitive issues, should not be a personal attack on the CAM.
Where to get more help for your community association manager
If you need guidance with your CAM or are a CAM in need of guidance, we can help. Download our ebook for more on the role of CAMs and how to run your association like a business. We specialize in community association law and are experienced in best-practices for association boards.
Think Like a CEO: What Successful Home Association Presidents Do
Successful CEOs and association presidents have a lot more in common than you may think
To be an association president who inspires and leads a board, you must approach your responsibilities with professionalism. The role shouldn’t be something to be half-heartedly filled or the last item on your daily to-do list.
Being association president is an honor, and you respect that position when you lead a drama-free, united and benevolent association.
One way of maintaining professionalism is by studying successful CEOs themselves. So, what lessons can association presidents glean from how CEOs do business?
Take a look at these traits of successful CEOs and see how they can apply to association boards.
Leaders see the big picture
Getting too caught up in smaller (though necessary) everyday tasks can prevent the president in the community association structure from seeing how everything ties into the greater focus.
“If you allow yourself to just do what’s next on your to-do list, you’ll never find the time to think about the big picture─there will always be something that feels more urgent,” according to Fast Company. “Block off time on your calendar based on when you’re most creative (morning, afternoon, evening).”
In making time to think about the big picture of your association, you’ll see whether the association’s goals are being achieved, how your daily to-do list ties into it, what needs to be struck off the agenda for hindering the greater good, and so forth.
They clearly communicate ideas and set goals
Knowing what drives the association should make it easier for the association president to share that information with others on the board. Unfortunately, however, association presidents often forget to share that goal and the crucial steps for achieving it.
“Most associations don’t have a training or onboarding process to educate new board members on what their role is and what they are accountable for,” writes PeytonBolin founder, Jane Bolin, in her book, Mastering the Business of Your Association: No More Condo Commando. “This leads to many board members unknowingly doing things that may be contrary to statutes or their governing documents. Without proper guidance, they end up doing things ‘their own way,’ which is never best for business.”
A great leader will communicate regularly and clearly, making sure new members share the association’s vision as well as keeping seasoned members on task.
Diplomacy is a must, not an option
Being a human institution, an association board isn’t always a joy. Disagreements will arise. Tempers will flare. Bad news will need to be delivered.
“Because of this occasional tension, one of the most important board member qualities is diplomacy,” according to Nolo. “To be a good board member, you’ll need to act as a proactive team player, who uses discussion and negotiation rather than contentious confrontation.”
CEOs value feedback
Honest feedback is hard to ask for (or even really want), but great CEOs know its importance.
“Tough feedback can be a tough pill to swallow,” according to Entrepreneur. “For most people, asking for feedback is like going to the dentist: though few enjoy it, it’s actually quite important to do.”
The feedback won’t always be great. After all, you’re not a gold coin that everyone’s going to like, as the Spanish saying goes. Sometimes, you’re going to rub association members the wrong way, no matter how much diplomacy you employ. Or you may have honestly lost your focus and need to get back on track.
The upside of asking for feedback, though, is that you won’t have to read minds or do guesswork about what association members think of you. You’ll know.
As association president, you need to focus on increasing your understanding of governing documents, procedural duties, leading meetings, maintaining attendee order, being the authority for your association…That’s an impressive list already. Don’t unnecessarily add to it.
Delegate regularly instead.
“Delegation shouldn’t be yet another task,” suggests Harvard Business Review. “Make it part of your process for creating staff development plans. Discuss which types of projects and tasks you will pass on to them so that they can build the skills they need.”
You don’t need to do it all. (And in fact, doing everything may peeve other board members who view those tasks as their responsibilities.)
CEOs ask for help when they need it
Need to recalibrate your focus? Need to mentally regroup? It’s perfectly normal for an CEO to need extra help now and then, and we at PeytonBolin can provide it. Download our ebook for more about how to run your association like a business.
Keep It Moving: How Community Associations Plan for a Successful Future One Year at a Time
Think ahead, plan strategically, and get everyone on board for a bright future.
Many association boards have no real vision for their community or any goals that they are working toward. Essentially, they operate in a month-to-month mentality, addressing issues as they arise and focusing on homeowners and property values. Although that’s understandable, the boards that view themselves as a business and run their association as one are more likely to set long-term goals that will increase their success. Let’s take a look at ways your board can plan for a successful future:
1. Get the ball rolling
In order to be successful, association boards have to develop a long-term plan for the community. It’s not effective to run the board in a “putting out fires” mode or on a month-to-month basis without a clearly laid out plan. To get started, it’s a good idea to schedule when each meeting will take place for the entire year. Then create agendas for each meeting in advance and ensure that all board members have this information ahead of time so they know what’s in store and can start thinking about their role.
2. Draft your goals
Setting long-term goals begins with getting a conversation started among your board members. Using our one-page planning tool, you can get everyone together to identify your aims and the association’s business cycle. This allows your board to plan out which goals should be top priority and who will be responsible for each one. Creating actionable items that are clearly identified lets everyone know what’s expected of them and how each goal is going to get accomplished, and it provides a timeline for getting everything done.
In any organization, bringing people together to share ideas and talk about priorities is a great way to get things going and to start a long-term plan. Creating a master list of ideas and goals is a great way to see where you’d like your community to be in three, five, or even ten years down the road. Just like those top goals from your one-page planning tool, these goals and visions are up for discussion and collaboration, allowing the board members to weigh in, to offer their expertise, and to help ensure that the community is moving in the right direction.
4. A vision for the future
In addition to the day-to-day and month-to-month tasks that need to get accomplished, like a maintenance schedule, special projects like gutter cleanings, tree trimmings, or painting of common buildings, it’s a good idea for HOAs to have a vision for the future for the community.
Do you want to offer community-wide Wi-Fi? Should you upgrade your security system, improve the community website, or add some new amenities to your clubhouse? These types of projects are great ways to increase the property values and satisfaction within your community. But they need to planned and budgeted for. And if the board works together, it can be done: a strategic plan can be created, implemented, and achieved.
Just like a business, having clearly-defined goals for the future is an essential aspect of a well-run, effective HOA. Use these tips to help you get started and be sure to check our blog often for more useful tips on running your association. And if you’re in need of legal representation or are looking to enlist the services of a community association attorney, get in touch with PeytonBolin at 877.739.8662 or through our online contact form today. We offer a flat fee retainer program that’s affordable and ensures that you always have the representation you need.