Showing up to an HOA board meeting without a strategy can be like jumping into rolling rapids without a lifejacket. However, community association managers equipped with some essential tools in their meeting belt can turn a room full of lions into docile cats. This isn’t to say, of course, that all HOA meetings involve conflict and stress, but to take the chance on things getting out of hand is to risk reputation and productivity. Whether a board meeting happens as an ordinary course of business or as an emergency response to a crisis, the manager who plans ahead stands ahead and brings smiles to all involved.
Here’s how to master the art of a proper board meeting strategy.
- Communicate prior to the meeting. Make sure key people have confirmed their attendance (a quorum at minimum) and send all board members an agenda focusing on 2-3 strategic points at least 14 days in advance of the meeting. This preview will give members a chance to offer any changes or suggestions. Presuming the board agrees with a meeting agenda they have not been able to review can result in a fiasco with board members contending amongst themselves and impeding further progress in the discussion. In addition, managers should know where each board member stands on decisions before the meeting, according to Business Insider. Forbes calls this pre-selling controversial items.
- Reserve dates and times for meetings well in advance. Homeowners serving on boards often live full lives outside of their volunteer term with the association. Professionals have work schedules to work around, parents have children’s activities to work around, and retirees may have travel plans to work around. Therefore, schedule all meetings for the year at a designated meeting the year prior whenever possible. Of course, times will occur when annual advanced planning is not an option, but as oft as possible, get everyone on board for meeting dates and times well in advance.
- Follow Robert’s Rules of Order to facilitate professional conduct and neutrality. Some states like Nevada require HOA meetings adhere to this meeting standard. Regardless of whether your state includes this requirement, using it even as a guide in meetings can aid in smooth transitions between topics, as well as respectful debate and equitable time allotted among attendees. For times when a particular attendee may tend to monopolize a meeting, Robert’s Rules, communicated at the onset of and enforced throughout the meeting, can restore peace in the room often without offense.
- End meeting with review of action items, accountability, and deadlines. Even with 2-3 topics on the agenda, many more action items may develop as a result of the discussions. Much of what was discussed at the beginning including who is assigned what task to be completed by which date can be lost as the meeting progresses and attention wanes. FSA Residential explains that a good list at the end of the meeting will aid the community manager with following up on many of these items, ensuring that none of the action items are overlooked.