When condo board members are caught in conflict the consequences can be far-reaching. Decisions are postponed and the property deteriorates as problems are not addressed. Owners wonder what’s going on and become frustrated with the lack of communication from the board. Meetings may be overly long and frustrating, causing stress for members and their families.
Why do some condo boards have engaged, hardworking members who protect the best interests of the owners, while others are mired in conflict and dysfunction? If you are a condo board member, what can you do to make sure that you and your fellow members can work together effectively?
Whether you are on a newly formed board, or your board has been together for some time, there are steps you can take to make sure that you work together effectively and respectfully.
Spend some time getting to know one another. You don’t have to become best friends with your fellow board members; you don’t necessarily even have to like them. But knowing a little bit about their backgrounds and about who they are as people can go a long way to insure that your interactions stay respectful. Knowing that Sally spends her weekends looking after her elderly parents, or that Jim did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, might help keep things in perspective when differences of opinion arise.
Knowledge is power. Familiarize yourself with the condo act, and with the rules and procedures of your own condo. Understand your rights as an owner, and your responsibilities as a board member.
Decide on ground rules for your interactions. Resentment can arise when people have different expectations for how meetings will be run. Taking a little time to work things out in advance can save a lot of time and effort down the road. Will all members agree to do their homework and be prepared for meetings? How long will discussions go on before a vote is called? When decisions are reached, will the board members support one another, even if they don’t agree with the outcome? Should members agree to keep their discussions confidential, and to avoid negative gossip about internal group dynamics? Committing in advance to respectful conduct helps to ensure that meetings stay focused and productive.