Succeeding as a homeowners association board, especially when it comes to close-proximity communities, can be quite challenging. There are many responsibilities, including fiduciary. Plus, homeowners are, understandably, quite emotional about what should be their safe and happy space. We know HOA and condo boards should enforce rules, have effective meetings, and take minutes. But the recipe to association board success isn’t that simple. The board must act as a team, effectively deal with problems, and be open-minded. Here we explain the characteristics that make an association board successful.

The foundation

A board must have a strong foundation before they can expect to succeed at the challenges they will face. Three key elements of a strong foundation are:

  1. Educate homeowners. Effective teachers and motivators know that connecting and having good relationships with those you want to influence is crucial. This starts with getting to know your homeowners and their reasons for wanting what they want, so that you can meet them where they are at. Being open-minded is a necessary part of this role, as your homeowners will come from a variety of backgrounds and inevitably have different viewpoints.
  2. Have appropriate expectations for the job. Being a board member will often be a thankless job. It requires a lot of time and tedium, patience, and resilience when you don’t get your way. Effective meetings require preparation (i.e., research), and an understanding of all the rules and bylaws.
  3. Set the team up for success. Find the right size board for your property size and needs. Also, be diverse. Having a variety of skill sets, backgrounds, and personalities will serve you well.

Top 3 characteristics of a successful board

The most underestimated aspect of being a condo association board member is the relational aspect. In our decades of experience across a wide variety of property types, we’ve found these three characteristics to be the most common for successful HOA, townhome, and condo boards.

  1. Individual board members do not get hurt or resentful when a decision doesn’t go their way. It is impossible for all decisions to go your way because many viewpoints are involved, as well as money. Sometimes, it may later prove that you were right all along. In those times, you’ll be best served to handle it with grace. Others may not say it, but if you respectfully stated your case at the time the decision was made, they’ll remember that you were right.
  2. Be flexible, and understand that different projects take different lengths of time. Some projects require more coordinating, more vendors, and more steps than others. In addition, safety measures must be taken, even when they slow things down.
  3. Running an association is very much like running a business. Have a business-minded attitude. Further, if you have a property management company, know the line between their job and yours. It is great to be helpful, but overstepping will waste time and cause issues.

Top 3 pitfalls that lead to an ineffective board

In challenging times, it can be easy to slip into emotional and controlling territory. Watch for these three things that significantly dampen great association outcomes.

  1. Micromanaging the Manager – True leadership and influence come from connecting and understanding the other party. It is an illusion that if you puppet your property manager or vendors that you will have a powerful outcome.
  2. Being a violation Nazi – People make mistakes. Harassing homeowners makes the board and property management seem like bad guys. Pitting yourself against your homeowners, accidentally or knowingly, will lead to animosity and uprising. It puts cracks in everything you are trying to build.
  3. Taking things personal – Homeowners will complain. It is inevitable; we are all human and have a lot invested in our homes. Having a thick skin for disagreements and complaints, while still remaining warm, can be extremely challenging. But, taking things personal in your exchanges with community members, other board members, or your property manager will eat away at your effectiveness.

How to measure if a board is successful

Be intentional. Effective boards are determined to be aware of how they are doing. Use these measurements regularly to help you achieve the above:

  1. Are you being kind but authoritative?
  2. Are you open to and understanding of your property manager’s guidance?
  3. Do you have an unbiased opinion of homeowners and their views, no matter the situation?

Consider creating your own similar set of principles, or share this article, with your existing and potential board members.