Acclimating New Board Members the Right Way

The board of directors in an HOA or CA has a lot of power in its hands. As the leaders of the community, board members not only control the operations, they set the tone for how residents live their lives and interact with each other. Because board members are essentially unpaid volunteers, those who opt to serve on the board should be dedicated to improving the well-being of the community by enforcing collective goals and values. Having everyone’s best interest in mind is crucial to being a successful board member.

As annual elections take place, the real challenge comes with acclimating new board members. It is not simply enough to let newly elected volunteers sit back and learn as they go. Although a new member is sure to have a picture of what they will be doing, with everything from collecting dues on time to enforcing the rules of governing documents, one of the most important training strategies is to encourage the right attitude and behaviors. The following is what it takes to get new board members aligned with your HOA’s or CA’s goals:

Understand Individual Duties and Rules

Knowing what the role entails will benefit a new board member from the start. From implementing policies and rules spelled out by the governing documents to fostering a strong sense of community, board members have a lot on their plates. What is important to communicate to new members is the extent of their power spelled out in the HOA’s or CA’s bylaws. Abusing power, such as breaking from protocol when violations occur, can lead to internal problems that may harm an HOA’s or CA’s way of life. Of course no board member wants this to happen and no resident wants to feel the effects of these problems. It is up to the board to make sure that any new member makes a smooth transition into their new responsibilities.

Not Disclosing Confidential Information

New board members will have access to the personal information of residents and other confidential information, including financial statements and complaints. These matters may be discussed in closed meetings but they should be handled with caution and care. New board members need to know that this information is sensitive and confidential and shouldn’t be discussed outside of private meetings. Doing so will undermine the credibility of the board and could even create a serious rift in the relationship between board members and residents.

Leave Bias at the Door

Board members must be great communicators. They are not only interacting with other members but also with residents on all of the needs and concerns of the community. Whether dealing with a maintenance issue or a conflict between residents, board members act as mediators in many instances. Therefore, it is crucial that no new board member comes into the role with biases or unfair opinions regarding how they will make decisions.

Although board members are only human, harboring negative feelings toward an aspect of the community, such as a certain design rule, or toward certain residents, will only lead to further conflict. Board members must be educated thoroughly on all of the rules and the layout of the governing documents and should be completely in tune with how operations are run. Make sure that new board members not only have a clear-cut picture of what their duties entail, but that they also understand that the character and lifestyle of the community must remain at peace.

Be a Dedicated Team Player

Serving on a board of directors is undoubtedly a time-consuming job. Because this role is unpaid it takes a certain level of dedication and care to be a thoughtful and successful board member. In closed board meetings and open board meetings respectively, board members must know what it takes to handle private matters and how to be transparent, honest and respectful when addressing the community directly.

New board members should not only understand that their fellow board members are equal parts of the team, but that residents should be treated as equals as well. Open communication with residents will ensure that the rules are well understood and abided by and help prove that the board genuinely cares about the well-being of their community. Serving on the board is not always easy and it certainly comes with the downside of pushback or negative reactions from residents when decisions are made. Because this can be commonplace, new board members should be aware of how to handle adversity and remain resolute in what they have to do to make sure everyone is taken care of.

Serving on an HOA or CA board is a big and exciting undertaking. This unpaid role takes a high level of determination and thoughtfulness to be successful. Between responding to problems and maintaining a strong sense of community, the board of directors has a powerful responsibility on its shoulders to ensure the community is looked after and happy. Any new member should not only be well equipped to handle the role but also have the right characteristics to carry it out soundly. Acclimating new members to the board the right way involves making sure that these members are prepared for the tasks at hand and have the right mindset to foster continued success.