Serving on a Condo Association Board is a tough job – sometimes it’s hard to see why serving on your condo association board is good for you. You’ve got the responsibility to govern anywhere from a handful of units to hundreds that might house thousands of Owners. At times it will seem you’re spending literally hours on things as shallow as the shade of blinds. You’ll pull off miracles like successful Special Assessments and receive minimal, if any, positive reinforcement or feedback. And did I mention that this is a volunteer gig? Not a dollar of compensation! At times, it can be tough to appreciate serving on a Condo Board. But the goal of this series is to fight apathy. Rather than give into despair, I’m going to give you four reasons why Board members – and prospective Board Members – should stop a moment and appreciate why your time on your Condo Association board is good for you. After all, finding the positive and making the most of an experience is what a great Board member does.
1) Get Experience Managing Money
Depending on your personal career path, you may have little or no experience in building a budget and managing cash flows. While hopefully you’ve got a Management team supporting you and accountants auditing your Association, nonetheless being on a Board gives you hands-on experience managing budgets and money. And depending on the size of your Association, you may be dealing with some very large sums of money.
You’ll learn the nuances of understanding delinquency, what accounts receivable are, and if you’re a great Board member, find alternate revenue streams to augment your cash flow. You also get an appreciation for how even well-made budgets might be undone by a couple of winter storms. This is incredibly valuable experience – whether when it comes to managing your own personal finances, future job opportunities where you need to manage a budget, or even helping to prepare you for a future goal of starting your own business. When the future comes, you’ll definitely appreciate serving on a Condo Board for the operational experience it provides you.
2) Become a Pro at Managing People and Relationships
Life is all about relationships. Whether it’s within your family, friends, work, or otherwise, we’re all juggling relationships all the time. If you’re bringing your A-game to a Condo Board, you’ll see your skills in relationship and people management improve tremendously. You’ll learn how to work with vendors, assign work, and communicate better. You’ll hopefully forge positive bonds with fellow Board members. You will also learn how to deal with unhappy or even hostile Owners. While this last one is not a fun experience, it is a valuable one as you’ll inevitably be dealing with unhappy people at various points in your life. A Condo Association provides a good training ground for other life and career challenges.
3) Learn to Lead
One of the toughest parts of being in a Condo Association is that you’re often faced with challenging decisions for which there is no “right” answer – only different options. In these situations, you have to analyze the facts, weigh the pros and cons, listen to the advice of the experts, and then make your decision for the path forward. It can be stressful and lonely – but also gratifying and empowering. Doing the best you can and leading is a great feeling.
4) It is Volunteer Work
Volunteer work is good for you, good for your community, and good karma. Most people equate volunteer work with building houses for the needy, serving at a soup kitchen, or supporting your local religious institution. Make no mistake, however – true Condo Board service (i.e., you’re not abusing your power) is absolutely volunteer work. You’re committing time and energy against tough problems. If that’s not volunteering, I don’t know what is.
Take a Moment to Appreciate Your Service
It’s easy to take a “why me” or “not this crap again” attitude when it comes to Condo Association work. I know I’ve rolled my eyes at times when I’m frustrated or exhausted. But instead, take a step back and appreciate the growth opportunities your Board time provides. Next time you’re going line by line through the budget and all you want to do is be back at your Condo drinking some wine, realize the bigger picture and how the important work you’re doing is helping your Association – and also you. It will make your time on the Board a much more enjoyable experience if you focus on why being on your Condo Association Board is good for you.