Read any of the major business publications or websites and you’re bound to find articles on the importance of delegating. It’s one of the most fundamental skills for a successful business owner to have. A simple Internet search finds scores of tips for CEOs and smaller entrepreneurs alike on how to delegate more effectively. Running an association isn’t quite like running a Fortune 500 company, but the concept of delegating tasks works just as well with a board of directors for a homeowners association as it does for a titan of industry or finance.
A Committed Effort
Boards of directors are small teams of volunteers with a lot of work to do. They often need help — and that’s where delegating to a committee comes in. A committee is a group of volunteers who focus on a particular issue at hand. It is run as a mini-board, where a chair is elected, topics are discussed and minutes are reported. Committees then take those minutes to the board. How many committees an association has and their responsibilities will vary from property to property, as will the committee size. Most commonly, the larger the association, the more committees the board will create. Ultimately, it’s the board’s responsibility to decide on the number and type of committees and to define their purpose.
According to Jeff Martin, president of Foreside Real Estate Management Inc. in Portland, Maine, committee chairs are appointed by the president of the association. “Committees should be approved and overseen by the board of directors,” Martin said. “It is the board’s responsibility to assign the scope of the work the committee will undertake and what information the board is requesting from the committee so that the board can make informed decisions for the community.”
In many cases, committees will have a board member assigned to act as a liaison between the two entities. “I think it’s beneficial to have one member of the board be [on the committee]. He [or she] doesn't necessarily have to be the head of the committee—but on the committee—just so they can give an idea to the committee as to what the board maybe expecting, and maybe give an idea of what is typical when you’re dealing in a board-type setting,” Hugh D. Shaffer, CPM, PCAM, CMCA, senior vice president of the Condominium Division at G & G Management, LLC in Newton, Massachusetts, says.
Strong, well-organized committees are a boon to a busy board and manager and offer residents an opportunity to get involved in their community. Aside from the usual suspects—budget, landscape and maintenance committees—committees can also include a communications committee that shares news and events with residents, nominating committee that interviews prospective residents and a neighborhood watch committee that makes sure the property stays safe and protected.