Helpful Insights for New Board Members
Congratulations on your new role of serving on your community's board of directors! While you were not likely given much information to help ready yourself for your new “job”, there are right ways and wrong ways to begin your term on your community board. Below are some useful tips to help you gain insight and better prepare you for your new position as a community association director.
Do your Homework
Once you join your board of directors, your work is just getting started. You must be prepared to attend your board meetings as well as any membership meetings; however, it doesn't end there. You will need to review reports, minutes and many other materials pertaining to your role as a director before you weigh in with a decision on them. You should not expect others such as another director or the manager to do your job, but you should consult with them and try to incorporate various points of view.
You should become familiar with your role and your association's documents as soon as possible. There are materials the manager can provide that will help you better understand your role as a community association board member as well as online material. It is best to start with your Community’s Governing Documents. You may also want to consider reading the statute which governs your particular type of association. Do not expect to interpret everything on your own; that is your association attorney's role.
Asking questions is always a good way to learn anything that is new to you. Rather than making assumptions, ask questions about why the board is doing certain things and enforcing or ignoring certain policies. However, questions should remain genuine with the purpose of obtaining information, not veiled accusations or criticism. There will be a time to address issues after all the facts are gathered first.
Take Your Role Seriously
You cannot fulfill your fiduciary (acting legally, ethically, and in the best interest of the community) obligations if you do not attend meetings, are not adequately prepared, and do not take your role as a director seriously. Keep in mind, that even if you think the role easy, you might learn a hard lesson to the contrary in court. It is your responsibility to be focused on what is in the best interests of the community while putting aside any personal issues. You cannot truly represent your community in good faith if you do not put the interest of the association's homeowners collectively first.
Your voice and your vote count, so use both wisely. Volunteers like you can make a difference. I am also mindful that state legislators, the North Carolina governor, and even the President of the United States, first got their start as community leaders/organizers. The work you do is important and should always be treated accordingly.