Encouraging Board Participation How to Attract Talent

With so many people leading busy, sometimes hectic, lives that revolve around work, kids, social functions, and other obligations, it’s often very difficult for HOA administrators to find residents willing and able to serve their community as board members (or ‘directors’ or ‘trustees,’ depending on what part of the country you’re in). Board members are unpaid volunteers, and the job can sometimes seem like a thankless hassle. But having a complete, competent and committed board is crucial to running a solvent, functional building or association. 

“People are often scared at first, because they think that it’s too much work, or too much of a commitment,” says Bart Steele, Assistant Vice President with Premier Property Solutions, LLC in Boston. “That said, when they learn that it’s monthly meetings, and that all voting can usually occur via email these days, they are usually open to running for and serving on the board.”

“The only drawback [of serving on a board] is that you give up some of your personal time that could be spent on other endeavors,” says Asa Sherwood, President of FirstService Residential Illinois, who was a condo board member for seven years. “The benefits are having a voice in the direction that your community’s going and a say in how money is being spent in what is typically your largest investment: your home.”

What Do You Do?

John Kadim, a portfolio property manager at Thayer & Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts (and who had previously worked for Crowninshield Management Corporation), observes that in many cases, attendance at homeowners’ meetings only spikes when things are going poorly. Because of this, he advises the boards he works with to try to enlist prospective board members when things are going well.  

For example, “I manage a community with a homeowner who walks the property every day,” relates Kadim. “He will jot down things he observes or has concerns about, and pass them along to me. Other managers reading this may stop and roll their eyes at this point, but this homeowner’s pleasant and helpful demeanor is received constructively. And come the next board election, no candidates were emerging for an open position. I suggested that they speak with him to see if he would be interested in participating, encouraging them to explain precisely what the job would entail. That homeowner got involved, and is currently rounding out not only his fourth year on that board, but the first as president. It turned out he was a perfect fit.”

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