We Need to Read About the Good Board Members

I was reading Ryan Poliakoff’s blog about board member term limits that he had read about onHOALeader.com.   Ryan points out that we often read about the “dictatorial” boards and boards running rampant, but for those of us who actually work with associations, those types of boards are few and far between.  You wouldn’t know that if you just read the newspapers, or watched the news or listened to the HOA slammers – they would have you believe that nasty boards are everywhere and that’s why draconian legislation is needed to “rein them in”.  Unfortunately, the legislators often listen rather than asking them to support their claims with some actual data.  They wouldn’t be able to because any independent surveys that have been done show that most owners are satisfied with their boards and their associations.

Today’s media doesn’t want to report about the quiet, unassuming, unpaid volunteers, that give of their time and talents to take on what is often a thankless task.  But they are the ones who step up when others don’t.  And they need to be recognized.  If we leave the field to the tabloids and the whiners, they win.

So, do you know of some board members who have stepped up, volunteered and then done the job quietly and effectively?  Why not mention them in one of your blog postings now and then.  It would be a nice thing for someone just to say what a good job they are doing.  All of you meet board members regularly – who comes to mind when you think about “good” board members.  Do you ever drive home from a board meeting and think “That board member actually gets it, and makes my job easier”.  Just a mention of an individual or entire board would be a nice thng to do.

One of the first blogs I ever posted was about the best board President I ever met.  I talked about how he would walk around the association, talking to anybody and everybody, about their concerns, problems, or just their families.  How, if someone at the board or general meeting would start to lose their temper, they would actually end up apologizing to him for their incivility, because his responses were always, quiet, civil, reasoned and on point.  Board and general meetings started on time and ended on time, but everyone felt as if they had been heard.  I learned more about running small organizations from this man than from anyone else.

Other board members that come to mind:

The first association I ever managed had significant physical problems, starting with a bad design which lead to bad roof, bad decks, bad plumbing and more.  For a brand new manager, it was overwhelming.  One board member helped me work through all of the problems, first determining cause, then working out the possible solutions, helping the board to decide the best one and then overseeing its implementation.  He had a full-time job, but spent countless hours looking for the best answers to the problems, not just the cheapest or most convenient.  I don’t think anyone at the association, even the other board members, ever understood how many hours he put in, and what a tremendous job he did. I did.  I was in way over my head and he pulled my rear end out.

A retired elementary school teacher was elected to the board and to the presidency of an association that had a large number of retired owners.  They had driven the prior president almost crazy and off the board, nitpicking every decision the board made, and calling or “dropping by” the Prez’s home every day to throw their two-cents in on every subject.  The new president began by setting up office hours at the clubhouse during which time any owner could come talk to her, and then by refusing to talk about association matters when they came to her home.  She also regained control of the board meeting by not allowing open-ended debate on every issue, but making sure everyone had a chance to comment.  Within a few months, she had the association humming along, with less bickering and more business being completed.  In talking with her, she attributed her success to having spent 30 years working with 7 and 8-year olds in school.  I was never quite sure whether she was serious or not.  She served 4 years as President and turned over a well-run association to her successor.

In the future, I’ll try and write more often about board members, or any association volunteer that did a good job.  I hope you’ll think about them also, and write about them if you can, or just thank them for doing a job very few want.

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