Serving the board of your co-op or condo can offer many benefits, but also bring many challenges. As board members also live among residents they serve, community issues are always present. It can turn into a 24/7 job that interferes with personal time, and when neighbors don't respect boundaries, being on the board can become more of a hassle than it's worth.
Running in Neutral
As a member of the board, your first responsibility is to your co-op or condo as well as your fellow owners and neighbors. It's not a small task and as it is largely a fiduciary responsibility, it's essential to stay neutral and impartial on community matters. This, however, is often easier said than done.
A truly effective board member should have either a solid business/management background or be a skilled communicator. In addition, says Diane Dangler, president of DHD Management, and the manager of community associations for Alderbrook Condo Association in Little Silver, "A board [member] should be someone who can represent everyone unilaterally, and who doesn't have a specific personal agenda. They [have to] lead people and be nonjudgmental, and have the ability to work knowing that there may be some neighbors who don't agree with or appreciate them."
"You are there to serve the entire community and individual biases shouldn't get in the way of your overall decision," says Curt Macysyn, executive vice president of the New Jersey chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). "Once you walk in the door as board member, take off your hat as an individual unit owner. Clearly it's a different mindset, and you must make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire community."
"There's always going to be a personal consideration that's made in every situation, if you're an accountant you're going to look at something differently than someone who is a hairstylist. Everyone brings a different perspective, but a decision itself has to be made for the betterment of an entire community," he says.