Have you ever attended or participated in an HOA board meeting that could be best described as an unproductive hostage crisis? You know what I’m talking about! These meetings last literally for hours with very few decisions being made. As a director, you really want to sneak out the back door but understand it’s your duty to participate in the governance of your community. These meetings reach a critical point when directors are found staring aimlessly into space or begin drooling with their eyes rolled back in their heads.
Here are a few tips for just saying NO to these painful and unproductive meetings:
● Preparation of the Agenda: Preparation of the agenda is key for the facilitation of productive meetings. Focus on including items that require action by the board. Informational items may be best addressed through supplemental material in the board packets. I also highly recommend that you “time” your agendas. In other words, each agenda item should be assigned a specific amount of time for board consideration. For example, “Approving the Minutes” might be assigned 2 minutes and “Adoption of an Insurance Guidelines Resolution” might be assigned 15 minutes. The key is to assign an appropriate amount of time to each agenda item and then stick to it.
● Review Board Materials Prior to the Meeting: When a director runs into the board room opening his or her board packet for the very first time – you might as well hunker down for a very long meeting. These packets contain important information and reports that are essential for directors to understand prior to making informed decisions. When directors aren’t prepared, they waste precious time asking questions on items that were addressed in their board materials. Frankly, it’s just plain rude not to do your homework and be prepared to productively participate in meetings.
● Don’t Dissect Hypotheticals: HOA boards make some very important and complex decisions. For instance, a condominium board may be deciding whether to replace an existing boiler with a solar thermal supplemental hot water system. Since most directors don’t have the expertise to make these types of complex decisions, they must rely upon experts to provide them with the information they need to act. In these situations, boards should not spend hours coming up with and discussing hypotheticals about complex issues. Instead, they should first obtain the information needed to make an informed decision and then have an in-depth conversation based upon real facts and information.
● Don’t Beat a Dead Horse: Boards are sometimes faced with making difficult decisions that are unpopular. In these cases, it’s easy to endlessly revisit these tough decisions. Unless new facts or circumstances have come to light, don’t waste precious time second guessing the decisions you have made. Instead, take comfort in the fact that you fully vetted the issue and made an informed choice based upon the best interests of the community.
● Don’t Go Off on Tangents: One common way that boards waste time is by not sticking to the agenda and going off on tangents. Once an agenda item is taken up by the board, stick with that item until a decision has been reached or it has been tabled for further consideration at a future meeting. Do not go off on a tangent that has no relationship to the issue under consideration. Instead, jot down that issue to be included as a future agenda item.
HOA board meetings can and should be productive. With very few exceptions, these meetings should be conducted in two hours or less. By adopting some of the tips I have outlined above, your board should be equipped to make informed decisions in an efficient manner. However, if your board is committed to endless board meetings, I highly recommend that you order in pizza!