Transition Time is at Hand!

The day began as many do, with follow up on issues that had been called in overnight and a review of my action list. Confident those issues were in good shape I focused my attention on a newly arrived email from the sales office that contained the latest statistics. Sure enough, the required percentage of lot transfers had been reached and critical mass attained. Transition Time was at hand!

Until now, the Homeowners Association was in an interim phase. Although populated by Member owners, the development remained under control of the Developer with a Board of Directors staffed by the Developer's representatives. All of that was about to change in a big way with the upcoming election of the first Homeowner Board.

I had for some time recognized this day would arrive and reflected on a past recommendation to the Developer Board. "Transition of the Association from Developer to Homeowner control is estimated to take place in 12-18 months. This timeframe should be adequate to provide for an orderly transition. I strongly recommend that the Board create a Transition Committee of Homeowners and work with it to educate and integrate interested homeowners gradually into the management and governance of the association".

I went on to explain that the Homeowner Transition Committee would have the opportunity to become familiar with the governing documents, budgets, architectural restrictions and other critical aspects of running the association. It would also provide the Developer Board a way to extinguish rumors and disseminate accurate and timely information. I concluded my pitch by offering that such a committee often includes folks that will ultimately run for election to Board positions at the transition election.

Although the Developer Board was somewhat apprehensive to allow Homeowners access to the inner workings of the association I was persuasive and the Transition Committee was born. I set about creating a structured process to provide meaningful educational opportunities to the committee. The process that resulted fostered frank and enlightening dialogue between the Developer Board and the Transition Committee that led to renewed trust and respect for each. It also provided me the opportunity to display my knowledge and managerial talents and show my future bosses what an asset I represented to the association. Most importantly, an orderly transition to Homeowner control was achieved.

Since my first experience working with a Transition Committee fifteen years ago, I have worked to refine the curriculum and materials used during the training. What has evolved is an initial three-part program held on separate evenings that includes: 1) Community Governance, Fiduciary Duty, Good Business Judgment, 2) Financial Analysis, Budgets, Reserves, and 3) Insurance, Facilities Management. Association professionals and service providers are encouraged to take part and their presentations are integrated into the program. These professional meetings also include PowerPoint presentations and written materials that provide a great way to show off the talents of the managerial support staff. I now conduct this training on a rotating basis citywide.

Encouraging Participation and Recruiting Volunteers

Very often Associations experience a real problem with apathy from the Membership when it comes to leadership roles or volunteerism. What does it take to encourage participation in Association governance? These are common problems faced by many community associations. The extremely fast pace of everyday life is surely part of the problem. With personal schedules stretched thin why would anyone want to lend assistance to the Association?

Consider the following strategy:
  • To enlist volunteers, let Members know there is a real and ongoing need to prepare for the future leadership of the Association.
  • Assign meaningful tasks. The Transition Committee members should have a clearly defined scope of work that details what the objectives are, the period for results, and the financial resources available.
  • Remember to honor the efforts of ALL that have volunteered.
  • Award certificates of achievement at the annual Membership meeting.

Make sure to consider new Members in your recruitment drive. Take the opportunity to explain the governance structure of the Association, including the Transition Committee. Perhaps the new arrival has training or skills that would be of value to the Association.

My experience with Committees and Transition training represents some of the most rewarding work of my career. It is truly time well spent and has a long-lasting, positive impact on Developer/Homeowner/Manager relations.

Source: Association Times
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