New blood on a Condo Association Board is critical to the long-term success of a community. It helps prevent a Condo Board from breaking bad, it invigorates veterans, and it helps promote an active community. However, with the zeal of service comes the most common new Condo Association Board member mistake that should be avoided at all costs: jumping to conclusions without any research.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
Board members are typically not shrinking violets. Most Board members join for good reasons. Even those who join for bad reasons intend to come in and make a difference. Filled with energy and a desire to improve your community, it is easy to dive in thinking that everyone is an idiot and everyone is doing everything wrong. This is an easy mistake to make, and one that can be very difficult to recover from.
Give the Board and Management Benefit of the Doubt… to Start
Except in the most dire of circumstances, you need to begin by giving your fellow Board members and Management the benefit of the doubt. Without a doubt, there are things they know which you do not. Similarly, there are absolutely going to be new ideas and capabilities which you bring that they do not have. However, you need to get your bearings first. There is a cycle and a flow to how Boards and Associations operate. Further, there is a great deal of privileged information, such as litigation issues, payroll specifics, and personnel specifics, that you will not have access to as a regular Owner. Until you have a good grounding of all of the information and the actions taken prior to you joining the Board, don’t jump the gun.
Don’t Overreact to Owner Complaints
Owner complaints are one of the areas that new Board members struggle with the most. For example, an Owner sends in dire allegations of mismanagement and misconduct. This can amp up new Board members quickly. How could Management be so callous or cruel? How could the Association be so terrible?
Researching issues and following up will often reveal that complaints are exaggerated or even baseless. Yes, there are absolutely times where there is misconduct and the Board must mete out discipline, but it is not every time. And until you learn that flow of Association life, it can be easy to make the new Condo Association Board member mistake of jumping to conclusions. Always do your research and never trust just one account.
Figure Out What “Normal” Is, Then Act
If you come in guns blazing, you will quickly lose credibility with your fellow Board members and Management. You are a Board director, not a dictator. You must be able to win over your colleagues if you want to affect change. Treating everyone like idiots and shooting first and asking questions later is a great way to poison the well. Avoid making the new Condo Association Board member mistake of acting too soon, and you’ll be on your way to leading a better Condo life.