Finding your Specialty on a Condo Association Board

Once you join a Condo Association Board, you’ll have your hands full with a variety of different tasks and activities.  Preserving the big three – finances, safety, and transparency – is the job of all Board members.  The challenges of day-to-day governing are also a core part of how you will spend your time.  But beyond that, you likely joined a Board to make a difference in your community.  And once you’ve gotten a good grip on the “must do” tasks, a good Board member will want to add value in other ways.  The best way to do this is to find your specialty on a Condo Association Board.  

Find Something you Enjoy

Find a specialty on your Condo Board you enjoy doing, and happiness will follow.
Find a specialty on your Condo Board you enjoy doing, and happiness will follow.

The Strengths Finder tool is focused on the philosophy that your “strengths” are activities that you enjoy carrying out.  The theory goes: Anyone can do anything – but at the end of certain activities, some people feel exhausted while others are invigorated.  Being on a Board is no different, so you want to find work that you enjoy.  If you pick things that exhaust you, as opposed to those that invigorate you, you’ll burn out quicker.  The great thing is that there are many options to help you find your specialty on a Condo Association Board.  

Internal Activities

There are two broad areas from where you can draw inspiration.  The first consists of what I call “internal” ideas.  These are internally facing and tend to deal with the Condo Association’s business.  Such ideas include:

  • Finances.  If you’re a math or accounting geek and love numbers for the sake of numbers, you’re always going to be able to contribute to an Association.  Review the books, clean up the budgets, provide some nice visualizations of expenses for the Board as a whole.  Chances are your Association’s accounting firm is doing an average job at best.  An extra set of skilled eyes goes a long way.
  • Communications.  Most people – in all jobs – suck at communications.  They fail at the basics.  There are always opportunities to clean up communications in a Condo Association.  Maybe even work to jump start a communications committee and start a regular newsletter.  If you like this sort of thing, you’ll be able to help out big time.
  • Policies.  Having good policies in place is always a good thing.  Formalizing policies can be a way to set good expectations in a community.  Don’t go crazy bureaucratic red-tape, but formalizing hot-topic rules like pets, human resources, and parking never hurts.

External Activities

This garden may be a bit beyond your means, but you get the idea.
This garden may be a bit beyond your means, but you get the idea.

For those who want to do something a bit more tangible, there are plenty of options too.  The big challenge with these external activities is that you need to make sure that your actions reflect the will of your community.  You need to solicit opinions and ensure that your projects make sense within a budget.  Assuming you can satisfy those requirements, here are some ideas:

  • Landscaping.  Always a hot button issue, but critical for curb appeal, the right landscaping goes a long way towards improving a building’s look and feel.  Bad landscaping, on the other hand, can devastate a budget.  Green thumbs – go for it!
  • Security.  Security is always a big topic, and covered here extensively.  Building a plan and organizing CPR classes and other activities are great for improving your community.
  • Amenities.  Most people think of things like hot tubs or pools, but amenities might also include community gardens, dog parks, or even minor improvements to your gym like TRX bars.  The key here is to lead a big outreach effort to see what Owners want, if anything.  

Add Value and the Rest Works itself out

The best way to find your specialty on a Condo Association Board is to start working and adding value.  Volunteer to help out in an area you enjoy.  Make it clear to the rest of your Board that you’d like to help out and are willing to do the work.  Build a plan, present it to the Board, and then execute on it.  In general, doing the work is enough to move things forward and create value.  And ultimately, that’s what being a Board member is all about.  


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