Every community is different and there are many different styles to how a board meeting is conducted. Regardless, we have put together some tips to ensure that you properly run a meeting and conduct all of the business required of your board of directors.
Board meetings are also required to the governance of your association and allow for a platform for homeowners to share their ideas, concerns and suggestions with the board of directors.
If the meeting isn’t run efficiently, your association won’t function well either. Poorly run board meetings can also cause frustration with both board members and homeowners alike.
So what can you do to ensure that your board meetings are well run and attended? Whether you were just elected to the board of directors or are a veteran with many terms under your belt these best practices will help you keep your meetings on track.
1. Set regulations and designate an appropriate time for homeowner participation.
It is already difficulty to garner interest and participation with homeowners attending board meetings. This can become increasingly more difficult by unruly participants or by boards who do not allow homeowners the proper amount of time to communicate their concerns or suggestions to the board.
Bylaws and statutes dictate who can attend a board meeting. In general, homeowners may attend and speak at open meetings, but you should make sure your governing documents stipulate guidelines for homeowner participation. This will prevent anyone from monopolizing meeting time or derailing the conversation. In some cases, non-owners such as family members, vendors, potential home buyers or other parties may also be allowed to attend.
We recommend that boards of directors adopt a policy that sets guidelines for the homeowners and dedicates a portion of the meeting, commonly referred to as a “homeowners forum” for attendees to discuss their views with the board. The Open Meeting Act allows for boards to establish reasonable time limits for the open forum and for homeowners to address the board per Civil Code 4925(b)
2. Set the agenda, post it in a common area and distribute it accordingly.
Having an agenda and sticking to it is crucial ensure an efficient board meeting. Consider the concerns of your fellow board members, homeowners and vendors to help you craft a relevant agenda. Some community’s who do not have common are amenities or maintenance obligations may choose to hold less meetings as there are no topics to include within the agenda. It is important to craft a meaningful agenda so that members of the association are engaged and want to participate.
Meeting agendas are required by civil code to be posted at a minimum of 96 hours before the meeting, but we generally recommend distributing the agenda a week in advance to allow your fellow homeowners to make time within their schedule or to communicate their concerns to the board or to the association’s management company prior to the meeting so their concerns can be documented and discussed at the meeting.
All decisions the board plans to discuss or vote is required to be on the meeting agenda. If the board does not follow the posted agenda, you may face challenges and accusations from homeowners. Also, sticking to an agenda keeps discussions on topic and relevant to the meeting. Board members are volunteer positions and most board members don’t want to spend 3-4 hours discussing off topic items during a meeting.
3. Document the meeting minutes.
Associations are required to maintain meeting minutes and make these minutes available to all members of the association upon request. Taking the minutes at each meeting and reading those minutes from the previous meeting are important to maintain transparency and consistency. Minutes provide an official record of your association’s meetings and are a requirement in most bylaws.
Minutes are not a transcript of the meeting. They provide a summary of motions made and actions taken by the board of directors. Although bylaws usually state the board secretary is responsible for managing the minutes, we recommend that the minutes are documented by the association’s management team.
4. Always follow “Roberts Rules of Order”.
We recommend purchasing “Robert’s Rules of Order”, a how-to guide for conducting business in democratically elected organizations. Its enduring popularity is based, in part, on how well it prescribes guidelines and formalizes meeting procedures and conduct. This helps ensure your meetings are fair, inclusive and efficient. For those who have not conducted official meetings in other environments, this will help guide you and give you the confidence to officiate your board of directors meeting.
5. Keep Your Meeting Formal.
Most board meetings should be regulated to no more than two hours to complete the associations business. The open meeting portion should last no longer than 90 minutes, with an additional 30 minutes for any business required to be conducted in executive session. Some boards use the meeting as an opportunity to socialize with fellow directors or homeowners, but this can lead to extended meetings and exhausted participants.
For community’s looking to host social gatherings, we recommend that these be organized separate from meetings so that it does not interfere with the business of the association. Community events are an excellent way for members to socialize and enjoy each other’s company without having to worry about the association’s issues or concerns. Many associations even budget for these events to include food, beverages and entertainment.