Parliamentary Procedure for your HOA Meetings

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HOA board meetings are some of the most important meetings that you will attend as a board member or president. If your HOA is functioning as it should, you will be discussing matters that can and will affect your entire community. You may be discussing things as separate as budgets and neighborhood aesthetics, as well as bylaws in your HOA. To make the most out of your meetings, and to be as effective as possible, it is crucial that your meetings follow a procedure. Whether it is a customized parliamentary procedure, or Robert’s Rules of Order, your meetings have the potential to be organized and direct. Here are some things to consider when implementing a new system.

Establish a parliamentary procedure with your fellow board members. As a president, it may fall on you to institute a specific order to your meetings, which will keep your discussions formal and orderly. A parliamentary procedure by definition is “the body of rules that govern meetings and other operations of organization.” While using a parliamentary procedure, one may “motion”, “debate”, or “second” certain matters brought up by other board members, thus creating an environment that allows everyone to bring something to the table. Make sure that the procedure you choose is helpful to your fellow board members, and that they also approve of the procedure chosen. Through whatever method you choose, it is possible to discuss each idea or issue individually and neatly.

Personalize your parliamentary procedure to work for your HOA board. Certain procedures, such as Robert’s Rules of Order may not work for everyone. Depending on the size, purpose, and unique qualities of your board, it may be necessary to change certain aspects of the plan you choose. Be sure to account for the time, as it can be a deciding factor in what procedure you choose. Typically, a meeting should not go over 90 minutes, and average around one hour. If an allotted period of time needs to be added for specific discussions, be assured that it will not destroy the capability of the procedure. Do not be afraid to relax on certain aspects of the plan, as parliamentary procedures, even Robert’s Rules, are rarely meant to be rigidly followed. Place the effectiveness of the meeting above the program of the meeting.

Know your basic parliamentary procedure. While there are different types of procedures that you can apply to your meetings, it is smart to know the basic “motions” and “movements”. In a common meeting that follows a parliamentary procedure, the president or head of the board directs the meeting. They are the one that recognizes each speaker and “gives them the floor.” Address this person respectfully, using titles along the lines of “Mr or Madam Chairperson.” Allow the president to speak, and courteously end your own conversations while they are addressing the board. Follow the agenda that he/she has laid out, which may involve different discussions and community business. If it is during the designated time, one may “obtain the floor,” and present a motion to the board. Depending on the order of the procedure, once a motion is opened to the board, it can be seconded, debated, and voted on. This will not only ensure that decisions for the community are fairly determined, but also allowing for new ideas to develop.

With a parliamentary procedure, your board meetings can work with more order, civility and success. Do not be afraid to relax on certain aspects of the chosen procedure, while at the same time, allow it to dictate how your meetings function. Be respectful to those who are presenting their ideas or problems, as well as the president or head of the meeting. With a new order in place, your board and community can benefit exponentially.

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Source: Neighborhood Link - Sabrina Robinson
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