Many of us can attest to the stress and lost time that results when working on, for, or with a dysfunctional Board of Directors. Boards that do not operate as a team fail to accomplish the tasks that need to be accomplished, and greatly increase the potential liabilities of a community association.
The healthy leadership of a board is essential to the strength of a community. Community associations can build a strong team if board members and owners better understand the roles and responsibilities of their association, the board and each owner. To start building a team, the board needs to lead. The goal of team building is to establish a strong association and build a sense of “community.”
Two immediate tasks are critical in team building for a board of directors. First, board members must be educated on their roles and responsibilities. Second, boards must learn how to conduct civil and effective board meetings.
To educate your board members, the association should conduct board orientations to coincide with new members being elected to the board. Board orientations should include an overview of the legal organization of the community and a thorough explanation of the governing documents. The orientation must address the various roles of board members paying particular attention to the board’s fiduciary duties and how board members should make decisions. Board members should learn about the applicability and importance of statutes in Virginia that govern their association.
Board orientation is also a perfect time to have the attorney and manager work with the board to learn how to conduct a effective board meeting. Board meetings are the only time that owners really can watch the board work. Therefore, the message sent at a board meeting is very important. Board meetings conducted according to a published agenda send a message that the board is organized and respectful of the time of owners and volunteers. Respectful interaction, even when board members disagree with each other, establishes a baseline of civility and respect for the meeting. Dissenting board members who make it clear that they will support the board’s decision make it clear to owners that the association is governed by the decision made by the board.
If your board is currently in turmoil, contact your manager and your experienced HOA attorney. Consider implementing a board orientation and adopting a policy for conducting your board meetings. Send the right message to your community.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
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