Just kidding. Playing through the scenario, though, what if being “elected” to the board was like being called for jury duty? Homeowners’ names are fed into a machine. Then every couple of years, a button gets pushed, a ticket pops out, and bam: YOUR name is on it. Time to serve. (Unless you’re disqualified…or an attorney. I’ve never served on a jury). Most people probably shudder at the thought, but would it be such a bad thing?
Why don’t people want to serve on the board? Some say it’s apathy – no one cares or is interested. Others say it’s fear – who wants to be in front of the firing squad for an unpopular decision? Some say there’s just no time – serving on the Board is like taking on a second job. Or maybe it’s the never-ending conflict – warring factions tend to stifle participation.
But serving on the board doesn’t need to be time-consuming, feared, uninteresting, or riddled with conflict. Successful boards run efficiently and effectively, so they have shorter meetings, fewer times a year. Directors who make informed decisions in good faith and in the best interest of the association need not fear the neighborhood naysayer. And, while board meetings aren’t always the most exciting or fun events, I’ve attended a few meetings where the act of hashing out ideas, debating pros and cons, working through the problems and ultimately getting things done was, simply, electrifying. As far as conflict, here’s what I have to say about that: drama kills apathy. A little conflict never hurt anyone. And, actually, good conflict will help the decision-making process.
It’s time to rehabilitate the negative image often associated with serving on the board. Yes, there are a number of decisions that need to be made, disputes to resolve, finances to monitor; so there is work involved and we can all name some cons. But what about the pros? How about the following:
• You have the opportunity to participate in decisions that will directly impact your community. You can further what’s good in your community, and effect change where it’s needed.
• You have a chance to create connections and relationships with other directors, managers, industry professionals that could benefit you in other areas of your life.
• You’ve invested in your home and the community you live in. You have the ability to better that investment, by accomplishing your association’s goals.
• Board skills are transferable. What better way to develop your communication and listening skills? Learn how to work with all different types of people? Improve your time, project and resource-management skills? How better to learn ways to become more efficient in the decision-making process? And when it’s all said and done, take those lessons and apply them elsewhere.
• There’s a sense of pride that comes from both leading and serving your community.
• There’s a sense of belonging that comes from working together to achieve common goals.
Can you name some other benefits? Do you discuss them at the annual meetings and/or when trying to solicit candidates for the board? Ultimately, serving on the board could be a rewarding experience, but this is easy to forget if you don’t continue to remind people of the potential rewards and values. If you’re having trouble getting people to serve on the board, try these helpful tips in addition to promoting the above and other benefits of board service.