Many HOA board members feel stressed, overworked, and underappreciated. I say “many” because there are a some who seem to handle their HOA board responsibilities with relative ease. What makes the difference? Are “those people” smarter, more skilled, or does their community have fewer challenges?  All of the above may be true, but in many cases, board members are their own worst enemies. That’s right, I said it, you’re making the job of board member more difficult than it needs to be.

Over the years I’ve watched board dynamics change as members come and go, and I’ve noticed a few things that effective board member do — and some things that they don’t do. Here are some of my observations:

Keep it Professional

Like it or not, emotions can run high when it comes to HOA interactions. Board members are no exception and when our ideas are dismissed or shot down, we get defensive. Becoming defensive and emotional can cause us to take action or make decisions to protect our ego rather than doing what’s best for the community.

Effective board members maintain a  professional attitude when it comes to HOA board responsibilities. They are also willing to see thing from the perspective of others.  As a result, they are able to come to smarter decisions without wasting a lot of energy

Trust the System

Some board members love to micromanage… It’s what they do. The problem is, micromanagers don’t trust proven systems. In fact, they don’t trust anyone except themselves – that why they feel the need to micromanage.

The boards’ job is to oversee association operations and make decisions to ensure the best course for the HOA. Without the system, board members can get easily “lost in the weeds”, and become reactionary rather than proactive. The board should make sure to have a capable team that is using software and a proven system to track, document, and reports on community operations. This team will handle the day-to-day and leave the important decisions to the board.

Transparent & Firm

Dealing with people can be the most challenging part of serving on the board — it’s a little like being a parent. If you’re too nice and accommodating they will walk all over you. But, on the flip side if, if you ignore or shut them out, they’re bound to stir up trouble. In either case, dealing with the fall-out will take up your precious time.

Effective board members recognize that each owner is a stakeholder and has a right to know what’s happening in their community. They also recognize that transparency can be hard and that often it means telling owners news that they may not want to hear. Remember, the board is ultimately responsible to make the best decision for the community, regardless what a vocal minority might want.

While transparency is essential to building trust, being firm is essential for efficiency. Effective board members have policies in place to prevent homeowners from wasting board member time or manipulate the board into providing special treatment.  It’s a balance that requires planning and education.

Let’s be real. Being a board member may never be “easy”. Some of the most difficult HOA board responsibilities simply can’t be avoided, but if your willing to apply some of these principles, you will be more effective and feel less overwhelmed.

Burke Nielsen

Burke Nielsen

Founder and Account Manager at GoGladly
Burke is Gladly's top industry expert. After 12 years in portfolio management, Burke founded an HOA management firm, and has drawn from that experience to offer insider-level understanding to Gladly. One of Burke's rare charms is that he actually loves listening to your problems. His more traditional hobbies include camping, 4-wheeling, and spending time with his wife and 5 terrific kids,especially when he gets to nag them about homework (nag the kids, not his wife).
Burke Nielsen

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