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.

Melissa M. Garcia, Esq.
3 responses to “Proposed Legislation Requires Mandatory Service on the Board
  1. This notion is right out of “Escaping Condo Jail,” an interesting book, but I cannot imagine ever requiring someone to do something they really don’t want to do. I think that runs counter to the very concept of “volunteer” service. Some of us serve on our board because we feel we have things to offer, and we want to have a positive impact on our community, which we consider to be our home. But really, this is one of the notions that Americans find hard to accept in the “communal” lifestyle, and strikes at the very heart of the dysfunction in many CICs. We have to understand that most people move into these communities so that “everything will be taken care of” for them, and that includes the tough decisions. Until one of those decisions affects them personally, or is contrary to what they want. Then, you’d better watch out. You will be hounded for not “listening” to them, which really means not doing as they wish or say. “So get on the board and help make the decisions yourself, if you’re so opinionated” we tell them. “Oh, no, I might actually have to do something, like attend a meeting.” It’s so much easier to delegate to others, then find fault with their decisions. THIS is the American way. The bullet points in the article are true, of course, but end up just being platitudes, I’m afraid.
  2. It would be interesting to hear what is considered “short” for meetings and “fewer” as to how many times per year a board that does fewer meetings…meets?

    I did find the article very accurate as to the “challenges” of the board, with the rather consistent group of “complainers” and negative toward change members. Serving on the board is accurate in that: You hope to improve the association and make things better,…, which is “change” and then “change” becomes a hurdle and strong emotional response by the anti-change group. One of the biggest challenges is making change to covenants when it takes 75% of the voting power to adopt change.

    It would be interesting to hear what the “norm” of voting strength to incorporate change is across the different associations? Simple Majority- 50% + 1? Super Majority – 67%? or Impossible Majority – 75%?

  3. Regardless of what your covenants say, in 2005 Colorado law invalidated 75% requirements to change covenants.
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