As you already know, the three core stakeholders in a condo are, in no particular order, board of directors, residents, and property managers. We recently wrote about what it takes to make an exceptional property manager, but what does it take to be a good condo board member? As we all know, board members are a group of owners that are elected by the owners of a condo to oversee the affairs of the corporation. In most cases, they are entrusted with the duty to retain a property management company to handle the day-to-day of the community so that it runs smoothly. What we have seen is that the most smoothly run condos are ones where board members do their job and do them well. So what does it really take to be a good board member?
This is an obvious one, but it is also one that simply cannot be ignored. Time and time again, the single biggest source of conflicts between board members and property manager and also with residents is, miscommunication. Miscommunication comes in different forms: from untimely communication to unclear communication and to lack or absence of communication. It is of paramount importance that a strong board member be able to be able to set expectations to both property managers and residents and to be able to relay them through communication. Also, it is important that communication is not one-way but rather two or even three-way. Not only can this prevent conflicts, but it plays a large role in having a harmonious condo.
What we mean by visibility is that board members should be ones that are approachable and accessible by residents. In the end, board members hold the mantle as the voice of the residents. It is a platform that allows them to not only make a difference but to dictate how the condo is run. Important attributes that allow for visibility are social skills. That alone is not enough however. The visibility must come with a reputation that the person possesses leadership qualities, is receptive and is compassionate. These qualities will help those individuals get elected and also throughout their tenure as board directors.
3. Financially Savvy
A condo corporation is precisely that: a corporation. While it does hold unique characteristics, it is a corporation with financials and thus a certain level of financial literacy is a must. While you do not need to be a professional accountant, it is important to at least have a basic understanding of where money comes from and where it goes. In most cases, professional accountants and property managers handle the numbers, but board members should be able to interpret them and make decisions based on them. Always remember that getting access to current financial information and to be guided throughout requires a strong accounting software that specifically caters to condos, such as Condo Manager.
Sounds pretty basic, but we have way too frequently seen board meetings get delayed significantly because of late arrivals and even no-shows. Being a board member is not a full-time job - it is rather a part-time volunteer position for a not-for-profit corporation. Most board members have full-time preoccupations that keep them busy throughout the day. Perhaps this is the reason why it is not difficult to lose sight of the corporation's schedules or to set up a meeting with a group of people with busy lives. Having said that, punctuality or the lack thereof has severe consequences that can adversely impact communication and visibility. The best way to not fail in this regard is to integrate board obligations and scheduling into your daily calendar and also, as always, keep the lines of communication wide open.
5. Always Learning
As with any organization, there is a strong likelihood that things are constantly evolving. It is important stay on top of all of the moving parts as it directly affects the lives of a large number of folks. This require constant learning. Learning includes various dimensions. For one, laws and regulations are constantly evolving so it is important to be aware of these changes that can drastically alter important aspects of the condo. A good way to stay on top of this are conferences and seminars in your region that are geared towards condo board member education.
Also, new technologies and know-how are in constant evolution. There is not a single condo community out there that is run perfectly. Like anything else, there is always room for improvement. To understand how the corporation can be improved, it is important to learn about best practices employed at other condo corporations and also to know what is out there in the market in terms of tools, technologies and vendors. This all requires constant learning.
Becoming a condo board member is doing civic work. It is a very important position that helps dictate the enjoyment and safety of an entire community of individuals. The most thriving communities we have seen have always been led by responsible, compassionate and courteous individuals on the board. It is a position that is certainly not suited for everyone. Before considering becoming a board member, one needs to assess their suitability and availability for such a position. If you want to get more information about becoming a board, it is recommended to speak to your property managers or feel free to contact us to see how we can help.