Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why Would I Want To Become An Association Board Member?

Serving as a Board of Director (BoD) member of a condo or homeowner association can be thankless job. There are tons of decisions to be made, disputes to settle, finances to keep track of, property to be maintained, rules to enforce, and there is a chance of being sued. But, the biggest sacrifice a board member makes is his or her time. Not only by attending meetings, but also by staying informed of the association’s business and addressing the needs and concerns of its members. So why do so many people decide to serve on as a BoD—some for years at a time? With all the negative attention, it may seem that this job has no appeal at all. However, if was that bad, who would want to take it? The truth is, there are a number of reasons for wanting to be a BoD member, including a variety of things beneath the surface that keep people interested in serving their association.

  • No one else will volunteer to do it. This probably is the number one reason for considering the job, particularly with a small association. Most members have “day jobs”, other interests, family priorities, or feel that they lack the experience to properly perform the job. But, when nobody is volunteering and everyone is saying “Not Me”, what do you do? The association has to be managed by a Board, as defined in the by-laws. Bills have to be paid. Services have to be provided. Who is supposed to do all of this? This is usually the situation the most prospective BoD candidates find themselves.
  • I want to protect my personal interests. You may have a sizeable investment in your property and want to make sure that it is secure and hopefully increasing in value. With the amount of power vested to BoD members, you essentially have entrusted your investment in the hands of other people. You may not have confidence in their ability to perform the job or you simply don’t not know if they can do the job. This is particularly true of a new association where members may not know each other very well. Another reason could be that you know your own capabilities and are confident that you are the best candidate available to protect your personal interests.
  • I want to help and give back. Most people will volunteer to serve because they can offer something back to their association and want to play a part in making positive changes. They may feel they can do better job than others who have stepped forward to serve in the present or past. They have something to contribute and are willing to help and to do their part. Volunteering makes people feel better about themselves and giving a few hours a week, or even a month, to an organization creates good feelings.
  • I have a personal agenda. Personal agendas, which are sometimes looked at as negative if they are not for the good of the whole, can be a driving force of good. You may not like the way certain things are running and you want to make a change. It may be that the finances are handled properly, or that there is no reserve fund, or that the rules are not being enforced. Serving as a Board member helps keep you in the decision-making process.
  • I want to be “In the Know”. Since you will be participating in the final decisions for the association, you will have access to the latest information and knowledge. You will be privy to more information than the rest of the members. You can be alerted earlier if things are things appear to be going in a direction that you don’t agree with.
  • I can achieve a sense of self-satisfaction. For some, the pride that comes along with being the BoD member can increase their self-esteem and make them feel better about themselves. Being called a “Board member” can be a coveted title for them.
  • I can build my resume. Even though Board members have to volunteer their own personal time, that time may be advantageous in terms of gaining knowledge about the association or the industry in general. You learn about management, business processes, meetings, motions, conflict management, communications, etc. The Board skills that are gained are definitely transferable they can help to build a resume for working in a particular field.
  • I can form valuable relationships. The different professions of members bring varying degrees of knowledge and experiences to the table. These can be valuable friends and/or “contacts” for you in your personal lives. When joining a new condo association, you may not know your new neighbors very well. Being a Board member puts you in a position of meeting many of the members in the performance of your job duties.
  • I want to acquire status or power. You may know someone who fits in this category, I certainly don’t.

Just because a person is motivated to become a BoD member, it does not mean that they are qualified to become a Board member. Board members are not required to have leadership/management experience, be lawyers, accountants, real estate agents or in any way be familiar with condominium or homeowner association law.

As it is with many other fields of endeavor such as parenting and leadership, it is assumed that if you have the desire to be one and you know how to become one, then you will know how to be a good one! Unfortunately, all around us we see examples of how this theory fails. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of BoD members really care about their condo or homeowner association and want to be a good Board member. But, I am also convinced that there are many who want to be a good Board member but don’t know how or go about it in the wrong way.

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