First things first, a board meeting is a business meeting, it is not a social hour to chit chat and catch up with neighbors. An effective board meeting should not last longer than two hours. If they are, and if work is not being accomplished, the board or community manager should reevaluate the reasons why.
A few things to consider. The meeting environment, possibly the board is disorganized or lacks a strong leader.
Meetings should be productive. An unproductive meeting can create an unproductive board. Which in turn can cause tension in the community and between board members. Additionally, members may withdraw interest in volunteering either to be on the board or a committee.
There are a few things you can do to eliminate distractions and conduct effective board meetings.
First, start with the location which will help set the tone of the meeting. Meetings should be held in an environment that enhances productivity. Consider a more formal settings, a clubhouse, local church, library or the manager’s office. Meeting location should provide a professional environment. As a manager, always suggest the board be seated at a table which allows them to see each other, not just facing the “audience”. Placing board members in this manner, will help eliminate the audience from interrupting during the meeting. They are there to observe the meeting.
Second, be prepared. As the manager, know your board, and know what’s in your management report. Management reports are typically distributed to boards no less than two days prior to the scheduled board meeting. A prepared timed agenda will give everyone a glance at items to be considered/discussed. Too often board members come to a board meeting completely unprepared, never having looked at the management report, or the agenda. All board members should show up to the meeting ready to make decisions after having reviewed their management report and agenda. Questions or additional information needed should be requested in advance of the meeting not during the meeting. Remember, the meeting is where decisions are made.
Third, Procedure, Procedure, Procedure!! It’s a must! Parliamentary procedure is vital for a smooth-running meeting. Basic rules of parliamentary procedure can easily be followed by all associations. The Board of Directors President should chair the meeting. The chair will open the meeting on time, and follow the timed agenda as provided by the community manager. The community manager should assist the chair by keeping time and informing the chair if time is running behind. When the chair opens the meeting, he should remind all attendees to be mindful, the meeting is a meeting of the board of directors. A specified time is noted on the agenda for resident open forum. Once open forum has closed, so should comments from the audience to allow the board to get to the business at hand. The AGENDA.
Sample timed Agenda
Order of Business
Open Meeting: 7:00 PM
Approval of Agenda: 7:00 PM
Owner Open Forum: 7:00 PM (time limit for each speaker 3 minutes)
Approval of Minutes: 7:20 PM
Officer & Committee Reports: 7:25 PM
Old/Unfinished Business: 7:35 PM
New Business: 7:45 PM
Executive Session: 8:00 PM
Adjourn: 8:15 PM
The Agenda should be closely followed, and all actions noted in the meeting minutes, by motions made, seconded and the final vote. Good reminders for the Board to assist in ensuring the meeting is run effectively and without interruption are to remind the entire board.
The board should only speak on the issue being discussed. Avoiding the “oh and by the way”. Speak only when recognized by the chair and address all questions or comments to the chair directly.
Conducting your meetings in a professional business-like location with a positive voice and a clear agenda along with rules for the meeting, will ensure your meetings run smooth and tasks are accomplished for the benefit of the community.
By Tracy Plazyk, CMCA, AMS
Tracy is a community manager for Legum & Norman. She has over ten years of community management experience in the Virginia area managing Condominiums, and HOA communities. Tracy is also a member of WMCCAI, the Quorum editorial committee, and is currently working towards earning her PCAM designation.