HOA Board meetings are the backbone of a homeowners association. They are the mechanism by which the Board discusses important topics, collects input from homeowners and makes decisions that will ultimately affect everyone who lives in the community. At their best, they are important tools to help the Association operate effectively, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that disputes are resolved quickly and fairly. At worst, they are labored sessions where much is discussed and not much is resolved.
During our decades of providing homeowners association property management services for community associations, we have seen the entire spectrum of Board meetings, from great–to bad–to cringeworthy.
Here are our fail-proof tips to help your Board conduct meetings that are productive and successful.
Tip 1: Everybody involved must come prepared.
Preparation starts with your HOA management company. They will make sure that all the correct topics are on the agenda and will deliver the Board Packages to Board members with sufficient time to ensure that everyone has a chance to review prior to the meeting. The board package report should include background information and documentation on agenda items and will likely include a recommendation from your homeowners association management company based on their experience.
Each member is expected to review the meeting agenda and related materials before the meeting. When you come prepared, you are able to spend your time during the meeting focusing on agenda items, not minutiae. If there are any questions about any materials in the packet, reach out to your HOA management company to clear up any confusion prior to the meeting. Many questions can be answered with a single phone call or email to your management company and can reduce the amount of back-and-forth during the Board meeting.
Tip 2: Remember that these are meetings of the Board of Directors, not the membership.
Your HOA Board meeting is a business meeting of the Homeowners Association corporation, not a round-table with the membership. It is a time for clear discussion and focused decision-making.
Resist the urge to veer off-topic and decide on issues as they arise. In the interest of effective decision making, many Board members get lost in the weeds, trying to solve unscheduled issues on the spot. Remember that there is a big difference between a “response” and a “reaction.” Instead, ask your property manager to schedule a discussion for a future Board meeting when everyone can come prepared and you can generate a thoughtful response.
Tip 3: Assign a point person to run the Board meeting. This is usually your HOA President or property manager.
A single voice who is tasked with running the meeting keeps everyone focused on the task at hand. Passionate discussions can eat into the meeting agenda, encroaching on time that is due for other topics. Your meeting leader should be someone with a clear focus and strong presence who has no problem jumping in with time limit reminders and can reel everyone back in to keep the meeting on track. By limiting agenda items and adhering to a strict time structure, the meeting leader helps to ensure that the meetings are effective and stay within schedule.
Tip 4: Produce good documentation after the meeting.
All the time spent in a productive Board meeting is wasted if no one knows what next steps to take when leaving. Your HOA property management company will record your meeting’s minutes then create a punch-list of action items. These concrete actions will provide a clear outline of who is responsible for what (usually the management company or HOA Board) and will help you evaluate progress and accomplishments throughout the year. The minutes and punch list will also provide the starting point for the next meeting agenda. Board members should review the updates provided by your management company before your next Board meeting (see tip #1 above.)
Board meetings do not need to be long and painful. Use the tips above and watch your meetings transform from labored time-killers to effective discussions that produce efficient decisions. If your Board needs help keeping meetings on track, call us at (949) 833-2600 and we’ll help you develop a plan to make your meetings more productive.