Working in groups can be a challenge. Working in groups when people’s homes—and possibly their life savings—are involved can be a far greater challenge. It’s one faced every day by those brave souls who volunteer to serve on their co-op or condo board. While there is no sure-fire recipe for building a board that is 100 percent successful day in and day out, there are definitely traits and tactics that the most well-run and effective boards share.
Don’t Get Personal
One of the biggest components to success is ensuring that those individuals who are elected to the board do not come to their new duties with a personal mission. It's important to make sure that no one looking to join is saying, “they have some kind of agenda. They're on the co-op or condo board because they don't like somebody, or because they have a personal pet-peeve about an owner's dog, or an owner in general. So, if they have issues that aren't for the best overall, it’s best not to bring them to the table, says Joseph Balzamo, president of Alliance Property Management LLC, in Morristown.
Board-member aspirants need to keep in mind that the job is to serve the entire building, and act in the interest of the association as a whole. Criterion number one should be that “it's your property, it's your money. You have a vested interested in making sure the building is being properly managed,” he says.
It's also very important to have a proper understanding of what a board wants from you as a member. Whether it's your legal expertise, your deep pockets, or your time, you should know from the start what they're looking for, and what the job entails. “A sound, good, and reasonable board should actively recruit sound, good, and reasonable members from the association to volunteer on a committee, attend meetings, or join as an alternate member so that they understand how things work before joining,” says Brian Weaver, director of business development at the Mahwah-based Wilkin Management Group.
To have a board member with, say, financial or legal acumen, can be a potential cost saver. Also, a board that has a makeup of diverse backgrounds and experiences can be a plus. But, if your board is seeking out a new candidate for a particular reason, it's important you are upfront about it with the candidate. If your association self-manages its property, a board with a range of professional experience can be a great asset.