Property Management IssuesPurchasing/Living in a CondominiumTenants

by Gord Sheppard

1. Smile – Because you volunteer for an effective Board that is knowledgeable easily gets things done?

2. Bite Your Lip – Because you don’t want to say anything bad about someone who said they would get something done after the last meeting and they didn’t?

3. Scream Out Loud – Because the current Condominium Board that you are volunteering for is a total waste of your time?

Well fear not because whether you’re a first year volunteer or a grizzled veteran, this article is your guide on “How to Create Awesome Condominium Board Meetings.” Because as we can all agree, the quality of a Condominium Board meeting can directly affect your pocket book. So what will happen if you don’t take action to improve your next meeting?

  • You may miss important details that end up costing
    you more money in the end;
  • Volunteers may quit and ultimately, all owners may
    suffer.

Effective Condominium Boards approach a meeting like it’s a business:

  • They define clear goals for each meeting and they connect those goals to their overall strategy;
  • They know how to recruit the right Board members and they get rid of anyone who doesn’t fit;
  • They hold themselves accountable and they get real results that can be measured.

Ineffective Condominium Boards approach a meeting like it’s a club:

  • Where Board members just show up to socialize;
  • Where Board members say they will take action, but
    they actually don’t;
  • Where everybody is too ‘nice’ – or too ‘angry’ – and
    nothing ever gets done.

So how do you want to approach your next Condominium Board meeting? You can start by asking the following questions:

• Where are we now?
• Where do we want to go?
• How are we going to get there?

And then you can use the following 10 steps to work out your answers.

 

Question: Where are we now?

Step 1: Rank the Performance of Your Current Condominium Board Meeting

One of the best ways to rank your current Condominium Board meeting performance is to use the following list to determine a number on a scale of 1-10.

1-4/10 – Low Score
Meeting behaviours include:

  • Low trust
  • Open conflict
  • No agenda
  • People are late
  • Too much talking about personal issues
  • Checking phones during meeting
  • Bad language
  • People don’t follow through on commitments
  • Very little gets done

5-8/10 – Average Score
Meeting behaviours include:

  • Basic level of trust
  • Well organized with a proper agenda
  • Everybody is nice
  • There may be some conflicts but nobody talks about it
  • Output of meeting produces average results

9-10/10 – Outstanding Score
Meeting behaviours include:

  • High level of trust
  • Healthy conflicts that lead to outstanding solutions
  • Confident leader/facilitator
  • Innovative ideas are shared
  • People encourage each other
  • People laugh out loud
  • Everybody contributes (even the ‘quiet’ people)
  • People can’t wait for the next meeting
  • What happens in these meetings helps the organization rapidly achieve its goals

Once you determine your current score (___/10) then you can move on to the next question.

 

Question: Where Do We Want To Go?

Step 2. Decide What Board Meeting Performance Level You Want

So now that you know your current score you can use the same list to determine what you want your future Condominium meeting performance score to be (___/10). Once you determine this you can begin to answer the next question.

 

Question: How Are We Going To Get There?

There are many ways to improve the performance of your next Condominium Board meeting. Here are a few of my favourites.

Step 3. Some People Gotta Grow & Some People Gotta Go

We all understand that having the right people on your team is one of the best ways to succeed. So why do Condominium Boards often struggle with this issue?

  • Desperation – They are often so desperate to get volunteers that they recruit Board members who aren’t a good fit and can’t help the organization achieve its goals
  • No Limits – How long should someone be a Board member? If the governance structure doesn’t set limits you can end up with long-serving Board members who inevitably get involved in issues that are not Board related

So what can you do about it?

  • Some People Gotta Grow – Some of the volunteers you have on your current Condominium Board only need a little bit of guidance to become awesome Board members. Don’t wait to do something about this! Creating and executing a growth plan for each Board member will; deepen their commitment to your organization; help you recruit new Board members more easily because they’ll hear about how much your current Board members are learning, growing and contributing.
  • Some People Gotta Go – We all understand this. So stop being so nice and find a way to respectfully help your poor performing Board members to exit. Because if you don’t get rid of the dead wood, then your high performing Board members may become frustrated and quit, and you’ll continue to have unproductive Board meetings.

 

Step 4. Be Realistic

You would never expect a college football team to win the Superbowl. You wouldn’t ask your eight year-old child to drive your car. So why would you expect a Board member
with no experience to have the right answer? For example, if your current volunteers don’t have the legal expertise to deal with a builder then you could hire an experienced lawyer. Regardless of what you are trying to do, you should always have the right people in place to achieve your goals.

Step 5. Listen & Be Heard

The most interesting people are those who are interested. So here are a few techniques that will help your volunteer Board members to listen and be heard more effectively at your next meeting:

  • Talk Less
  • Repeat what you heard – After somebody finishes speaking you can summarize what they’ve said by briefly repeating back what you’ve heard to show that you truly understood what they said
  • Use their name – To really deepen the connection with your fellow Board members, say their name after you repeat what they’ve said. Because the sweetest sound in the world that everyone loves to hear is their name
  • Acknowledge the ‘Quiet’ people – So often it is the ‘Talkers’ who dominate Board meetings. So make sure that that you find a way for the ‘Quiet’ volunteers to be heard during each Board meeting

Step 6. Learn How to Fight So You Can Really Get Along

If you want to get things done you have to be able to disagree in a productive way and move on. But it is often the case that Condominium Board volunteers don’t know how to fight effectively and their meetings get bogged down. So here are a few suggestions to help you learn how to fight well during your next meeting:

  • Figure out ‘why’ it’s worth disagreeing – For example, if you are dealing with an important issue it may be critical to hear all points of view so that you can make the most effective decision. If you understand this in advance then you can warn everyone that this discussion may get heated but that will be because people passionately believe in their point of view. This type of preparation will help you build the right level of trust in the meeting to allow everyone to feel free to fully express himself or herself.
  • Develop a ‘fight’ guideline – For example you may all agree that in order to fight effectively you will; have one person talk at a time; stop the discussion if it gets personal; step out of the room if someone gets angry; ensure that once a decision is made that you and the entire Board of directors supports it and so on.
  • Acknowledge the benefits of fighting well – For example, if people know they can speak their mind then there is a good chance that some of your most innovative ideas will get expressed during your Board meetings.

Step 7. Budget for Board Meeting Success

Getting better takes time and effort. Setting aside the appropriate amount of time, resources and money to improve your Condominium Board meetings is one of the best investments you can make in overall performance. If you don’t do this then you can expect more of the same from your next Condominium Board meeting.

Step 8. Celebrate

Many Condominium Boards work hard at fixing things and then they forget to celebrate their success. So if you’re going to put the effort into making your Board meetings more
effective then here are a few suggestions about how you can celebrate your achievements.

  • Start by asking your volunteers for suggestions about how to celebrate
  • Have a potluck meal at your next meeting
  • The meeting leader can send hand written thank-you cards to each volunteer
  • Praise the Board on social media including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google and more
  • Get a group portrait of the Board done and put it on the meeting room wall
  • Have someone who benefits from the work of the Condominium Board write a testimonial letter and then read it out loud at a Board meeting

Step 9. Get Awesome Resources

There are a ton of great resources to help you improve your Condominium Board meeting performance. Here are a few to get you started.

When ‘Some People Gotta Go’

  • “Good To Great” – by Jim Collins – This book will help you sort out who should be in/out of your meeting

For Fighting Productively

  • “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott

Local and Regional Resources

  • Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (ecvo.ca)

Step 10. Take Action!

If you want your next Condominium Board meeting to be more effective then you have to take action now. You can start by answering these key questions.

• Where are we now?
• Where do we want to go?
• How are we going to get there?

Then you can use these steps to help formulate your answers.

  1. Rank The Performance Of Your Current Condominium Board Meeting
  2. Decide what Board Meeting Performance Level You Want
  3. Some People Gotta Grow & Some People Gotta Go
  4. Be Realistic
  5. Listen And Be Heard
  6. Learn How To Fight
  7. Budget For Board Meeting Success
  8. Celebrate
  9. Get Awesome Resources
  10. Take Action!

Do you know how much money and time is being spent on your Condominium Board meetings? What sort of results are you getting? What would happen if you made every one of those meetings awesome?

Gord Sheppard is a Professional Meeting Facilitator, Consultant, Author and Speaker who helps Associations, Corporations and Government organizations create more productive and profitable meetings. You can learn more about Gord at www.createawesomemeetings.com

This Article Originally Appeared in CCI’s Fall 2016 Magazine