13 Surefire Steps to Guarantee Board Meetings Will Be Longer [Satire]

13 Surefire Steps to Guarantee Board Meetings Will Be Longer [Satire]

If board service is not difficult enough, you can crank it up a notch by making board meetings much longer. If people aren’t dozing by meeting’s end and if you’re done after 90 minutes you haven’t tried hard enough. Follow these steps to increase your chances: 1. Do not plan ahead Include everything you can think of on the agenda. Make sure you pack multiple major issues in simultaneously – don’t wait for the next meeting. 2. Avoid reading the board packet (if ever) until you arrive at the meeting Ask lots of questions about things that are in the packet or in reports attached to the packets – that way you can prove that you did not prepare and make the whole board wait while you catch up. 3. Open forum remarks should be unlimited Some HOAs have 3 minutes per speaker limits. Let people talk as much as they want (that will give you time to read your board packet). 4. Never use consent calendars Everything must be a separate motion and discussed, no matter how minor, routine, or non-controversial. 5. If other directors disagree with you, keep talking – you might wear them down Sometimes if you drone on long enough, people will occasionally back off their positions and you can delay a board vote… again and again. 6. Repetition is great Repetitious arguments or revisiting previous decisions lengthens meetings. If it’s worth saying once, it might be worth saying many times. If it’s worth saying once, it might be worth saying many times. It it’s worth saying once… 7. Push for unanimous votes and complete...
Your Meetings Are Raucous? YOU Might Be the Problem

Your Meetings Are Raucous? YOU Might Be the Problem

Board meetings should be efficient and business-like events, but can unfortunately often be tumultuous and disorganized. Ineffective meetings frustrate directors, managers, and even the audience. The directors set the tone for the meeting, and there are ways in which the HOA board can contribute to (or prevent) a chaotic meeting environment. Room configuration How is the board seated? If the directors are all seated in a line facing the audience, a subtle message is conveyed: The board is talking to the audience. It is not surprising that in such a seating configuration the audience believes it is their right to talk to the board in return. If the board sits more in a semi-circle, the directors can face each other, while the audience is able to listen to the board deliberate. Talking to the audience Some directors cannot resist “playing to the crowd” and speaking to the audience. This completely disrespects the other directors, and also can lead to raucous response from the audience. Directors should never grandstand to the audience and should confine their remarks to their board colleagues. No rules Very few associations have meeting conduct rules. Such rules can prohibit certain intolerable behaviors, such as shouting, physical intimidation, and profanity or hate speech. All members should be able to feel safe as they attend meetings. Should anyone disrupt the meeting, rules would empower the board to impose discipline. Meeting rules can also contain open forum guidelines, disciplinary hearing procedures, and other helpful information explaining the various meeting procedures. Undisciplined deliberation A disciplined board stays on the agenda item at hand and avoids straying into other side...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 3] – The Manager

As the association’s professional manager, I resolve to Number one: Follow the Golden Rule. Attitude check: Remember I am a professional, and will give the board the best advice I can. I am not employed to be silent. Strive to give the board the answers it needs to hear, regardless if it is the answer the board hopes for. Avoid reacting defensively to upset homeowners, and will make sure they are informed as to the “whats” but also the “whys.” If the board disregards my advice, I will document it in writing to the board. Not attempt to give specialized advice, but will refer the board to the appropriate specialized professional. Try to please all, while knowing that I can’t. Be knowledgeable: Pursue professional designations and attend seminars to keep me up to date. Be prepared at any board meeting to explain significant deviations from budget. Understand the Business Judgment Rule, and confirm the board has sufficient information to make each decision. Encourage my board members to join the Community Associations Institute, knowing educated boards are better boards. Better board meetings: Protect the board from overly long or disorganized meetings. Create agendas with consent calendars to quickly handle non-controversial items. Alert the board when an agenda is too ambitious. Become comfortable with the fundamentals of Roberts Rules of Order. Help the board stay on topic and on agenda. Alert the board if it is handling matters in closed session which should be in open session. Bring the HOA governing documents, including all rules, to every meeting. On each agenda item, be prepared to provide a recommendation or recommend retention...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 2] – The HOA Member

I, the HOA member, resolve to: Number one: Follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. My attitude: Not refer to the HOA or board as “they,” since it is all “us.” The directors are also members who pay assessments and give their time to benefit us all. Be neighborly, because shared ownership fails without cooperation. Assume our directors are doing their best as volunteers, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Not first assume the board is incompetent or dishonest when I believe it is overspending. Avoid the “my home, my castle” attitude. We share the benefits of common interest ownership, which means we also agree to share the control of our property. Ask questions before making statements, criticizing, or even accusing. Acknowledge the board may have more information than me. This doesn’t mean the board is right, but it does mean my opinion might not be fully informed. Take the long view of our association property, supporting growth of our capital reserves fund and maintaining our buildings. Be knowledgeable: Read the information the HOA sends to me. Be familiar with the CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules. I will reduce confusion and disputes by understanding the use restrictions and rules. Read the association budget and reserve study. I will ask informed questions, particularly about deviations from budget. If I ask to review financial documents, I will not ask for “everything,” and request only documents which I really need, acknowledging my manager is not a librarian. Help board meetings: Insist the board follow the Open Meeting Act, and only handle in closed session the...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 1] – The Director

As an HOA director, I resolve to: Always: Follow the Golden Rule. Reboot my attitude: I don’t control my neighbors, I serve them. An attitude of service will help me to be less defensive and stressed when neighbors challenge or criticize board decisions. Advocate our board follows the law and governing documents, spends money wisely and properly preserves and maintains community assets, while also being mindful of the board’s relationship with our HOA community. We will balance the legal, financial, property and community considerations in our decisions. Remember that my position as a volunteer is different than my work. Unlike at work, we cannot fire our HOA neighbors. Be aware that not all neighbors know their rights and responsibilities under the law and governing documents, and I will be patient and willing to explain the rules and decisions. Be knowledgeable: Review our governing documents (CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules). Review financial reports on budget, reserves, expenditures and delinquencies. Understand the Business Judgment Rule, and always make sure the board has sufficient basis for each decision. Encourage my board colleagues to join a Community Associations Institute Chapter, and take advantage of the written materials, seminars and classes CAI offers to volunteers. Improve board meetings: Help to limit our open board meetings to at most 2 hours, with a goal of an average meeting length of 90 minutes. Arrive at meetings prepared, having reviewed the agenda and board packet. Listen attentively during Open Forum without interrupting, and give my neighbors the same level of courtesy and attentiveness which I expect from them during the board deliberations. Stay on topic during discussions. Meet...