Running an association meeting can be stressful, especially if you know a hotly contested issue or election will be on the agenda. Regardless of what type of meeting you anticipate, here are some tips for running a successful meeting:
DO know what kind of meeting you are having. While this may sound basic, it is a point that many homeowners confuse. Know if you are holding a board meeting, a special meeting of the board (and for what purpose), a special meeting of owners (and for what purpose), or an annual meeting of owners. The items on the agenda and what is appropriate to address will be different at each type of meeting. Additionally, notice requirements differ with the type of meeting. Make sure you know what type of meeting you are having so that you can confirm proper notice was provided and that only appropriate issues are handled.
DO have a CCIOA-compliant Conduct of Meetings Policy and follow it. Your association should have a Conduct of Meetings Policy that addresses many items, including how long homeowners can speak about a particular issue and what is inappropriate behavior at a meeting. Refer to the Conduct of Meetings Policy at the beginning of the meeting, when informing homeowners about the appropriate conduct of the meeting. Having copies of the Policy at the meeting can also be very helpful for homeowners to refer to. If the rules of the meeting are presented at the beginning, everyone in attendance can be aware of the rules of conduct. However, if you wait to address conduct issues when they arise, homeowners can feel singled out and treated unfairly, even if they are not.
DON’T make it personal or take it personally. A little healthy debate is to be expected when complex or emotionally-charged issues are discussed. In many cases, reasonable people can disagree about the best solution to a problem. Respectful disagreement between homeowners and/or board members is completely acceptable at a meeting. Just because someone disagrees with you on one particular issue does not mean that it’s a reflection of how they feel about you personally. However, there is a clear line between respectful disagreement and counterproductive personal attacks. No one (board members or homeowners) should be permitted to make personal attacks or have a shouting match at a meeting. Either would likely be in violation of the Association’s Conduct of Meetings Policy and should not be tolerated.
DO have an agenda and follow it. Agendas should be distributed at the beginning of the meeting so that everyone knows how the meeting will proceed. If homeowners do not have an agenda and do not know that a homeowner forum will take place later in the meeting, more homeowners may be inclined to bring up unrelated issues earlier in the meeting, throwing the meeting off track.
DON’T take volunteers for granted. Being a board member, committee member, or contributing to your association in some other way can be a thankless job. Publicly acknowledging and thanking their hard work makes those volunteers feel appreciated and encourages others to volunteer as well.
DO give a “President’s Report” or a “State of the Association Address” at your annual meeting. This is a great time to thank all the volunteers and to give a summary of the Association’s successes. It is also a good opportunity to educate homeowners about the past year and how the board is handling any challenges facing the Association. Finally, this is a great opportunity to share the board’s visions for the future and get the homeowners united and energized about the prospects for their community.
DO have a copy of the association’s governing documents. If questions arise, many can be answered with a quick review of the governing documents. Information about quorum requirements, proxies, covenants, and many other topics can be found in the association’s governing documents. However, many topics can be confusing and complex, which brings us to the final tip for running a successful meeting:
DON’T be afraid to ask for help. If you anticipate questions about a matter that the board has consulted a professional about, take advantage of that resource! If there have been homeowner complaints about a vendor, ask the vendor’s representative to come to the meeting to address concerns. If the board has debated about legal questions, ask the association’s attorney to come to the meeting. Having a third party resource at the meeting for specialized questions takes the pressure off of you.
For additional information, please contact a Altitude Community Law attorney at 303.432.9999.