Board members in a Condo Association come in many varieties, but at the end of the day, they’re either bad at their job, good at their job, or great at their job. Today we’ll cover the major archetypes of Board members, what their behaviors are, and how they fit into the Association. If you’re a Board member and wondering how you fit in, this article will be great for a little self-reflection. If you’re an Owner or Management who knows your Board well, you’ll be able to categorize your Board very quickly after this.
The Bad Board Member
The Bad Board Member is what you’d expect. They don’t create any output in terms of the Association; instead, they detract from operations. They may not have all of these characteristics, but they will exhibit a majority of them:
- A Bad Board Member does not actually understand the Condo’s Bylaws or rules.
- A Bad Board Member does not read important Condo documents – like financials, bids, or management reports – in a timely fashion.
- A Bad Board Member will continually indicate they are unhappy about decisions, documents, or whatever, but will not indicate a path to satisfaction and instead continually move the goalposts.
- A Bad Board Member does not take into account Owner feedback.
- A Bad Board Member is disrespectful or rude to others, be it Management, other Board members or Owners.
- A Bad Board Member may be unethical and seek to use Board status to gain personal advantage.
Bad Board Members must be identified and dealt with accordingly. You need to aggressively manage them (link) to ensure that they don’t turn your whole Board toxic. A Bad Board Member, left unchecked, can have significant derogatory impact to your Association. Two or more will lead to breaking bad (link).
The Good Board Member
The Good Board Member is your bedrock. They get things done, they move the ball forward, and they generally keep drama low. They exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:
- A Good Board Member understands the Bylaws and rules of an Association – they know what can and can’t be done.
- A Good Board Member is up-to-date on relevant documents and has formulated opinions on them – for example, if there’s a project out for bid, they will have read the documents and formed an opinion.
- A Good Board Member provides constructive feedback on issues; generally they form an opinion and will articulate issues.
- A Good Board Member will listen to Owners and engage in a positive manner.
- A Good Board Member will happily work on projects when directed by others, and occasionally will proactively volunteer.
- A Good Board Member is polite and respectful to others.
Good Board Members are what most people end up being. They won’t lead, but they will follow and they will get things done. The biggest difference between a Good and Great Board Member is that the Good Board Member isn’t as likely to stir the pot – for example, they may be less inclined to stand up to a Bad Board Member.
The Great Board Member
Great Board Members are the rock stars. They lead the charge and get things done. They take on the dirty jobs, they talk to Owners, they work with Management, and they build a positive working environment. Some of the characteristics of these hard-charging individuals are:
- A Great Board Member takes ownership of issues, but does so without dominating them and excluding feedback from others.
- A Great Board Member comes up with new ideas to improve the Association, and then leads the charge. He or she does not make work for others.
- A Great Board Member not only listens to Owner feedback, but solicits it without being overbearing.
- A Great Board Member actively engages other Board members for their input and mentors Bad Board Members to try to salvage them.
- A Great Board Member actively encourages a culture of respect in the Association, making sure that Bad Board Members are called out.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, you actually don’t want too many Great Board Members on your Board, as there isn’t always enough room for these super type-A individuals. One or two is enough, and with a good bench of Good Board Members supporting them, your Association is in great shape. Great Board Members can often burn out after a term or two because of the energy they put in.
The Unhealthy Board Member
The Unhealthy Board Member is a condition that can affect any type of Board member. This is when someone starts using Board work as an unhealthy proxy for other issues in their life. It might be that they’re intense people who always give everything 120%, or maybe they’re lonely and the Board is their only social outlet. Some signs of an Unhealthy Board Member include:
- An Unhealthy Board Member commits all documents to memory; while helpful in meetings, this is a little concerning and borderline obsessive-compulsive.
- An Unhealthy Board Member is constantly pinging Board members for their feedback, even if everyone just received the documents hours ago.
- An Unhealthy Board Member wants to meet in person for extra meetings constantly and does not want to do work over phone or email.
- An Unhealthy Board Member often hangs around Management and building staff in a codependent-like fashion, micro-managing operations.
The best way to handle an Unhealthy Board Member is to set polite, but firm boundaries. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can also try to help regulate their intensity and help them find life beyond the Association, but that may entail a host of challenges and drama.
Making Sense of it All
Just like people, Boards come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Take stock of your Board and figure out how you can be better for your Association. Whether it’s dialing back unhealthy behaviors, coaching up a Bad Board Member, or making the leap from Good to Great, there’s always opportunity to improve.