It’s an oft-repeated mantra when it comes to condo and HOA management: no two boards are ever the same. Each is—or should be—a reflection of the community it serves, and each is made up of a unique blend of personalities, skill sets, and individual administrative styles. A board is almost like its community’s fingerprint.
That being said, there are some universal qualities or characteristics that all successful, functional boards have in common—as well as some classic mistakes that can spell trouble for an entire community. The following are some tips and thoughts from the professionals on how boards can play to their strengths and avoid making all-too-common administrative blunders.
Strength in Diversity
“One of the first things that makes a board successful is having members that come form diverse personal and professional backgrounds,” says Rick Fry, PCAM, a New Jersey-based property manager. “A board that’s able to bring a broad variety of ideas, thoughts and suggestions to the table for consideration is always best. You don’t want a board of five accountants; it’s hard to be creative if everyone thinks alike. If you have a teacher, an engineer, a salesman and an accountant, you will get a much broader array of information brought to the board.”
According to Gary Wilkin, president of Wilkin Management Group in Mahwah, the most successful boards treat their association as a business and approach their responsibilities professionally, avoiding petty squabbles, politicking, or personal axe-grinding and collaborating to maintain—if not improve—the quality of life in the community. If a board has members who don’t really want to do the work and just came aboard to further their own purposes, things aren’t going to get done.
“What’s important are volunteers who are willing to give the time and participate in the procedures of being on a board,” agrees Jane Balmer, general manager of Rossmoor Community Association in Monroe Township. “There’s a lot of time and homework involved,” and that homework involves knowing what the hot issues are, preparing for the meetings and wanting to make a difference for the building.