Perception vs. Reality: How to help new community association board members adjust and accept their responsibilities.

Perception vs. Reality: How to help new community association board members adjust and accept their responsibilities.

What we don’t know, or what we assume, often determines how we approach new places or responsibilities.

Where are the cowboys? A visit to Austin, the state capital of Texas, can be confusing to those who think the Lone Star State is all about Stetson hats and pointy-toed boots. You might find a cowboy or two, but the city has a startup vibe that makes it much more similar to San Francisco.

What we don’t know, or what we assume, often determines how we approach new places or responsibilities. It’s why we so strongly recommend to association boards that they must set the context for new members. A successful board views itself as a business. Here’s why you must create a context for them by setting perspective.

An exercise

Blame it on television and the movies. It’s possible today to have all manners of preconceived notions about what’s involved in being an association board member. Is it fair, then, to have expectations of how they will act and behave?

In our eBook, we write that the most powerful thing you can do is to make sure you set, or reinforce, the context every time you bring your board together. What, exactly, do we mean by context? This exercise in context is courtesy of the Townsend Consulting Group. Read these lines.

A newspaper is better than a magazine.

A seashore is a better place than a street.

At first, it is better to run than to walk.

You may have to try several times.

It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn.

Even young children can enjoy it.

Once successful, complications are minimal.

Birds seldom get too close.

Rain, however, soaks in very fast.

Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems.

One needs lots of room.

If there are no complications it can be very peaceful.

A rock will serve as an anchor.

If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.

You likely read what’s above and decided that it made little sense. You may even have wondered if there was any relation between the sentences. Now, let’s add context. Read the lines again as you think about a kite.

Nothing personal

An association board role may be clearly defined, but the setting context makes it possible for everyone to understand why those roles exist. It grants perspective even to brand new association members. In our eBook, we suggest that this context or perspective follow along with the narrative of:

“Hey, in this board we view the association as a business, not personal. That means we don’t make decisions on how they may affect us personally, but how they support the mission and vision we’ve set for the association which, by the way, you’ve already shared or created with your new board members. That means you may be FOR SOMETHING or support something when viewing the association as a business that you may not necessarily be for, or support, personally.”

Starting each meeting with a quick contextual recap helps everyone remember why they are there and the way they should approach what must be accomplished. Unexpected behavior seldom occurs because board members are reminded that they are there to help run a business.

Another helpful tool is the creation of vision and mission statements. These can be extremely powerful in helping with context. Let’s say that your mission statement is, “As a board, we are here to create actions that will protect and preserve property values and enrich the community living experience for our residents.” Each member has, in that one sentence, enough context to convert any perceptions into reality.

This approach can be helpful in crisis situations, as well. As fellow homeowners, you might be feeling the emotion caused by the situation. When all members of the association stop to remember they are there to resolve a business challenge, the situation can move back to a mode of constructive, rather than reactionary thinking.

More than one way

Did you know that you are not bound to your board’s governing documents? They create a framework for your approach to actions, and a unified approach provided by context helps you succeed in running your association like a business.

Businesses have customers. Your board serves the rest of the community. And, once again, context comes into place. If and when you invite non-board members to participate, what sort of perceptions are they bringing along?

One of those unit owners attending might just be a future association board member.

Whether you call it context or perspective, how members approach the business of running your board association can make an incredible difference. Things get done. Decisions are made based on increasing value and community satisfaction. It’s an effort undertaken by a group of homeowners who all agree to act in accordance with a vision or mission statement request. Follow this link to request a copy of our free eBook.

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