Co-ops and condos function thanks to the dedication of board members who volunteer their time and expertise to make sure their building or HOA is efficiently run and that their investment is protected. Ideally, new board members might be architectural students, who moonlight as attorneys or work day jobs as CPAs. The reality is that the majority of these selfless folks are from all walks of life. They don't necessarily have a wealth of experience that will prepare them for their new challenge, and for these well-rounded homeowners, basic board training can be invaluable.
The responsibility for training a new board member is essentially the responsibility of the new board members themselves. They must acquire the knowledge and skill to get the job done effectively. However, the new members should not be left to self-teaching alone, it’s vital that veteran board members help out as well.
Let’s take a look at what makes a good board member, and some things that the newbies and the old-timers can do to educate one another.
The New Class
“Generally people who choose to run for the board want to help their community. A board should have a mix of people with some business experience, financial expertise, management, contract experience, and good communication skills. At times we've pursued people to try to get them to volunteer because we needed specific skills, but overall we like people who are willing to be part of a team, and who aren't self-serving. We want people who are willing to listen, to communicate, contribute ideas and discuss alternatives, and who bring some thought and leadership to the group," advises Mike Jacobs, president of the board at Hamilton Woods Condo Association in Basking Ridge.
Marvin Rothenberg, a board member at The Plaza co-op in Fort Lee thinks that good board members are vital to any organization. "People who can work with others and deal with issues rather than personalities" are key, he says. "There’s nothing wrong with having disagreements on issues. I think that it’s very helpful to have people on boards who have some corporate experience and have learned to deal with other people and having give-and-take,” Rothenberg says.