Board Member Roles

Board members of common-interest realty associations are volunteers who are elected by the members of their association. New board members do not always recognize the many different board member responsibilities. At various times during a board member's term of office, the member is a leader, a policy maker, an enforcer, an arbitrator and a strategic planner.

Leaders

Members of the board of directors are the association's leaders. As a leader, the member is expected to always act in the best interest of the association. This means putting aside personal interest and opinions when performing board duties.

Policy Makers

A Board member is a policy maker. To be an effective policy maker, the board member should have an understanding of the association's past, a vision for the future, and knowledge of the present.

Enforcers

At times, the board member may have to enforce the association's rules, regulations, policies or guidelines. Enforcing the governing documents is necessary. Being fair, firm, consistent, honest, concerned and empathetic is the best approach to this duty.

Arbitrators

Arbitrator is another important board member role. There will be times when owners cannot agree on a topic and the board member becomes involved. The board member's goal is to help the owners find an equitable resolution to the disagreement. This requires the board member to be a good listener, a calming influence, and to make fair decisions.

Strategic Planners

As a strategic planner, the member's objective is to maintain the association's assets, prevent a recurring problem, and to avoid a future problem. This planning is often performed by the entire board. The final solutions will be a product of education, debate, and negotiation. Sometimes the proposed solutions are submitted to the membership for comment.

Too Many Tasks?

At this point the reader is probably asking why someone would volunteer to be a board member if they knew before hand that they were expected to do so many different kinds of tasks.

The answer is that a new board member is not expected to be an expert in each role on their first day. There are other members of the board who have more board experience and the community manager should have the expertise in each area to provide direction, training, and advice to help the new member grow into the role.

How can board members improve their performance of these roles?

  • Become more knowledgeable of the state and local laws that govern community associations.
  • Read and refer often to the association's governing documents (i.e. declaration, bylaws, policies, procedures, resolutions, guidelines, rules and regulations).
  • Be prepared when attending board meetings. Bring the association's governing documents, most recent financial report and management report. Read the management and financial report before the meeting.
  • Acknowledge the community manager's expertise. Use the manager as a resource to improve the quality of the board's decisions.
  • Maintain a professional demeanor before, during, and after meetings.
  • Attend seminars and classes to learn more about the operations of community associations. A good source for these classes is the local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), your management company, and the association's attorney.

Being a board member is a rewarding experience. From the board member's perspective, the board member learns how the community is operated, develops skills they did not have before becoming a board member, and gains an appreciation of the contributions of former and future board members. From the association's perspective, the value of the volunteer's time, commitment, and intelligence could not be duplicated at any price.

Source: Association Times
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