Everyone loves a HOA meeting! Right? After all, it’s well known that most HOA meetings are standing room only, and they’re always being shut down because they exceed the occupancy limit for fire code. Okay… Maybe not.
The fact is, the average HOA meeting is not well attended. We claim we want participation and engagement, but in reality, the last thing we want is a room full of homeowners scrutinizing our processes, and second guessing board decisions.
HOA boards know it’s tough to make progress, with just one meeting a month. To get anything done, the board must be running at peak efficiency — discussing issues, reviewing proposals, solving problems, and reaching agreements. Some associations have solved this problem with the invention of the “work meeting”
The work meeting gives boards the opportunity to get stuff done between regular meetings. But a work meeting is a magical meeting that doesn’t require notification of owners because, well… They aren’t invited. They aren’t invited because in theory, it’s not a meeting at all. No minutes are taken, no motions are made, and no decisions are reached. Sounds pretty good! right?
The problem is, a work meeting is never just a work meeting — Ideas are discussed, debate ensues, and decisions are inevitably reached. Then the board meets at the regular HOA meeting, motions are made and quickly approved, with little or no debate. Meanwhile homeowners stand by, wondering how the board so quickly reach consensus on such complex issues.
It’s not that owners are always suspicious of the board but they do hate the idea of the closed HOA meeting. What really gets their dander up is secrecy and the appearance that the board is not interested in differing points of view.
The issue here is not really the work meeting at all — it’s the bypass of openness, transparency, debate and open dialog. Homeowners are generally concerned for their community and a little openness can go along way to educate and build trust.
Open meetings require that your meetings are well structured, a clear agenda is presented, time limits imposed, and proper procedures are in place. The point is, open meetings are just one piece of an open transparent community association.
The best HOA’s take transparency and communication to the max. They open their meetings, seek homeowner input, and clearly explain policy decisions, especially when those decisions may not be popular. If your association is implementing closed meetings you might be causing more headaches than you’re solving.
What’s your take on work meetings, we want to hear. Please share in the comments below.
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