For those of us who work in the HOA industry, the one constant theme we have heard over the last couple of years is that many people have become just plain mean.  While this nastiness is certainly not across the board and folks in the vast majority of HOAs we work with strive to do the right thing and treat each other with respect, those HOAs that are dysfunctional seem to have an escalation in the lack of civility in their communities.  We all have our theories on on why this is the case, but we will let you contemplate that on your own.

It’s probably safe to say that we have all been taught that we need to set an example with our own behavior.  As a result, we need to be willing to engage in a self-evaluation to determine if we are contributing to the dysfunction and lack of civility in our own communities.   In this blog entry, we will provide a self-evaluation for folks serving on the board of directors of their HOA.  Next week, we will provide a self-evaluation for homeowners. Finally, we will conclude this series on civility with tips for dealing with difficult people in HOAs.

Self-Evaluation for Directors:

  1.  Interaction with fellow directors.  How do you treat your fellow directors?  Do you listen to their perspective?  Do you point fingers at them?  Do you cut them off while they are speaking?  Do you yell or scream at them?  Are you disrespectful to them?  Do you ignore them?  Do you speak to others while another director has the floor?
  2. Interaction with management.  How do you treat your manager and management company?  Do you listen to their reports?  Do you ask their opinion on issues?  Do you yell or scream at them?  Do you treat them with disrespect?  Do you make assumptions about their performance, without first gathering credible information?  Do you have a conversation with your management to set reasonable and obtainable expectations?  How do you handle legitimate conflict with your management?
  3.  Interaction with homeowners.  Do you make stereotypical assumptions about some of the homeowners in your community?  Do you treat all homeowners equally?  Do you treat them respectfully?  Do you yell or scream at them during meetings?  Do you inappropriately cut them off?  Do you ignore them when they are speaking?  Do you make disparaging comments about them?  How do you handle chronic complainers in your community?
  4. Interaction with your ego.  How does your ego impact your conduct in the community?  Are you a know it all?  Are you always thinking about what you are going to say, rather than listening to the individual who has the floor?  Are you belligerent or hostile to others? Is your ego getting in the way of admitting when you are wrong?  Are you disrespectful to others who don’t share you opinion?

Let’s face it, nobody is perfect and we all have moments that we are not proud of.  However, by honestly and privately engaging in this self-evaluation, you can answer for yourself whether as a director you are conducting yourself appropriately in your community.  If you are not acting with civility and basic decency as a director, how are you going to change your behavior?  If you are serving with a director who routinely and destructively engages in incivility, are you willing to professionally and constructively call out their behavior?

Remember, as a leader in your community, the example you set can make a huge difference!