When it comes to the subject of meetings—specifically monthly board of trustee meetings or annual owner meetings in condos, co-ops, and HOAs—there seem to be no neutral opinions. A few folks actually like these exchanges, but most dread them.
Some residents—board members and trustees, included—report attending poorly conducted and ineffective meetings that wasted both time and energy, and resolved nothing. Others reported attending meetings where tempers flared, voices were raised, and hard feelings wiped out any possible efficiency or progress. At best, most board members, trustees and residents alike seem to regard the board/unit owner meeting as a necessary evil.
Evil or not, board and unit owner meetings are necessary. Co-ops and condominiums are governed by laws, and should be run as a business. Despite the technical advantages of online meetings, emails, text messages, and smart phones, the multiple layers involved with HOA management require regular meetings with formal minutes used to record attendance, votes, and finances. They're like the memory bank of the community—crucially important, even when you can't necessarily see them working.
So, what can boards, unit owners, committees and property managers do to improve both the quality and productiveness of these regularly scheduled and necessary meetings? Where should board officers look for suggestions and education to improve the quality and outcome of board meetings? Here are a few ideas from some industry pros.
Robert’s Rules of Order and Beyond
Robert's Rules of Order was first published in February 1876 by Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert, and contained guidelines intended for use by any 'deliberative assembly.' The book listed rules loosely modeled after those used at the time in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, property managers and boards tend to use the protocols therein in varying degrees depending on the property.