When you hear the word “meeting” do you want to run in the other direction? We’ve all been in meetings that drag on and on, feel like a waste of time because nothing gets accomplished, or are outright exhausting because board members spend the time arguing with each other. What if you had a few tricks up your sleeve to make HOA board members actually look forward to meetings? Okay, at least not dread going to Association meetings? Here’s what you need to do.
1. Be prepared
Preparing ahead of time is the most important thing an HOA board member can do. It’s the responsibility of the Board president and HOA manager to work together and create an agenda that’s required to be posted ahead of time. Board members will typically receive a packet of the meeting 5 days to a week ahead of time. Only what’s included on the agenda can be discussed at the upcoming meeting.
As an HOA board member, do your homework. Open the board packet and read it. Look at the agenda. Pay attention to any hot button issues that may cause a heated discussion. You may even consider physically going to a place on the Association property to see an issue on the agenda. For example, a hole in a roof in the clubhouse. It may even mean a call to the HOA manager beforehand to ask questions and understand an issue that is up for discussion.
Being prepared will help the meeting move along more efficiently and help you and other board members make reasonable business decisions.
2. Listen to open comments
It’s a common practice, typically at the beginning of the meeting, to open up the floor for comments. This time for open comments can be about any issue or concern a homeowner may have. It doesn’t have to be on the agenda. However, the HOA board will simply note the comments and not engage in a discussion. (Remember, no action can be taken if it’s not on the agenda!).
The Board will typically say “We’ll take this under consideration, thank you for your input.” This helps diffuse any potential threats or people who have their own agenda and are set at sticking to it. The Chairperson of the meeting needs to be clear it’s an HOA board meeting – not a member meeting. The audience is welcome to stay and listen to the entire length of the meeting, but cannot have input except during the time for open comments.
3. Keep a business-like manner
The Chairperson needs to move things along in an efficient manner, but also ensure that everyone is respecting one another. It’s important that the HOA board adopts some sort of operating rules, usually a variation of Robert’s Rules. These also need to be disclosed. The goal should be to get to a decision as quickly as possible by:
- Leaving emotion out
- Avoiding rabbit trails
- Making a decision
People getting together in a group is a social meeting and there are always those who want to talk and socialize, so it’s the responsibility of the chairperson to shepherd them along. Encourage respect of one another and remind members to support the decision that was voted on and avoid any temptation to bad talk or fight the issue.
These are just three of the most important things you can do to ensure an effective HOA board meeting.