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Subject: Disengaged Board Members
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AnnaJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:65


08/31/2021 2:22 PM  
I am the president of our association. I do about 95% of the work--and right now its alot. We had a lawsuit against the developer for failing to construct our clubhouse, it was thrown out, now I am meeting with county officials about the matter, I interface with the events committee, I give the PM the newsletter content, I update the sandwich sign as needed at the community entrance, etc etc. Just alot. The problem is that the rest of the Board is disengaged, and is content to not do anything. Many times they won't even respond to my emails. I asked if someone else wanted the presidency. They said no. I asked (via email) if someone could take over the sign for a while. Silence. I asked for them to volunteer to help the events committee with their back to school drive via donations. Silence. Its so annoying. I know that they all have busy lives, just as I do. But what can I do to get them off their @$$es and engaged in the business at hand?
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:729


08/31/2021 2:36 PM  
I had a similar situation. I finally asked the other board members if they would be willing to resign if we could find an owner who had good qualifications and was willing to dedicate their time? I worded it very carefully. "If you have been thinking about getting off the board...". Two of the board members instantly said yes they would. I already had a qualified owner willing to step up before I posed this question. One person stepped down and the person I recruited was quickly appointed to the board. About a year later this happened again.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11422


08/31/2021 2:52 PM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 08/31/2021 2:36 PM
I had a similar situation. I finally asked the other board members if they would be willing to resign if we could find an owner who had good qualifications and was willing to dedicate their time? I worded it very carefully. "If you have been thinking about getting off the board...". Two of the board members instantly said yes they would. I already had a qualified owner willing to step up before I posed this question. One person stepped down and the person I recruited was quickly appointed to the board. About a year later this happened again.



Good suggestions.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:254


08/31/2021 4:18 PM  
Anna, do you have a management company or are you self run> If you are self run the suggestion you have received is perfect.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:197


08/31/2021 4:20 PM  
Posted By AnnaJ1 on 08/31/2021 2:22 PM
I am the president of our association. I do about 95% of the work--and right now its alot. We had a lawsuit against the developer for failing to construct our clubhouse, it was thrown out, now I am meeting with county officials about the matter, I interface with the events committee, I give the PM the newsletter content, I update the sandwich sign as needed at the community entrance, etc etc. Just alot. The problem is that the rest of the Board is disengaged, and is content to not do anything. Many times they won't even respond to my emails. I asked if someone else wanted the presidency. They said no. I asked (via email) if someone could take over the sign for a while. Silence. I asked for them to volunteer to help the events committee with their back to school drive via donations. Silence. Its so annoying. I know that they all have busy lives, just as I do. But what can I do to get them off their @$$es and engaged in the business at hand?




Anna. I'm in the same boat and have just had "one of those days". Master Policy review/renewal, expires tonight. Been emailing the others for 3 weeks asking for comments and concerns. Nothing. Get ready to vote and now there are questions. Questions that were all answered in the emails sent that they didn't read.

We are a Board of 3 out of 5 and been together for 7 years. What we have here is no one wants to be on the Board. We even operated with a Board of 2 for a few years. Maintenance hadn't been done for years. One year there were 2 owners out of 144 at the Annual Meeting. We have disengaged owners.

I have to remember to pace myself, pick my own battles, and work off a priority list. Hang in there and see if you can find community members to volunteer to help. My favorite response when someone asks about doing something is "why don't you volunteer to look into that and present it to the Board". Never hear back.



Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
AnnaJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:65


08/31/2021 4:21 PM  
Posted By MichaelS56 on 08/31/2021 4:18 PM
Anna, do you have a management company or are you self run> If you are self run the suggestion you have received is perfect.




We have a management company that helps with clerical/administrative tasks.
AnnaJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:65


08/31/2021 4:25 PM  




Anna. I'm in the same boat and have just had "one of those days". Master Policy review/renewal, expires tonight. Been emailing the others for 3 weeks asking for comments and concerns. Nothing. Get ready to vote and now there are questions. Questions that were all answered in the emails sent that they didn't read.








Yes!!! Or I give the management company a directive after not hearing from anyone, then hear about it from the Board AFTER the fact! Did you not see the previous six e-mails I sent about this very item?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2393


09/01/2021 4:49 AM  
What I did was just flat out ask other board members for help with stuff because I was overwhelmed. It worked occasionally, but the quality of the "work product" was variable - as long as you're willing to have "good enough", this may work. Fortunately we had a skilled PM at the time, so the basics got done.

It's not unusual to have one board member who's more capable than the others, due to some combination of temperament, skills, and job experience. But the end result is that this one person will get burned out, which does nobody any good. And it's very, very common.

I wish I had a better answer.

We occasionally kick this around on this forum and have tossed around some possible answers such as paying board members (forbidden by many bylaws) or hiring some form of professional to replace the board ("receivership lite") - but none of them will address the real problem, which is that the board is made up of people whose only qualification is having enough money to buy a home. I'm surprised that the system works as well as it does, since no other corporation I'm aware of chooses to be run by people with so few qualifications - seems to be a recipe for failure.
AnnaJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:65


09/01/2021 5:46 AM  
Cathy, well said. The thing is that I ask for help, via email. Since its via email, its easy to ignore me. So they do.
ND
(PA)

Posts:631


09/01/2021 6:25 AM  
Not sure why, and I'm not calling out CathyA3 specifically (she's just the most recent person to say one of the things that irks me), but I always take slight offense to the reference that the only qualification required of HOA Board Members is that they are able to purchase a home . . . inferring that aside from doing that, most are total brainless, unethical bozos without any other knowledge, skills, or abilities . . . and by extension that must be what every other homeowner is as well since that's the eligible pool for HOA Board Members. Either that or most other homeowners are smart enough to steer clear of getting on an HOA Board, leaving only the bozos as the ones dumb enough to take the job. But if that's the case, then we all need to question our own existence on an HOA Board.

True, the fact that purchasing a home is what makes an individual a member of the HOA, and that being a member of the HOA is typically the only stated requirement to become a Board Member. But I make the assumption that most people are able to buy a home because they have some level of knowledge, skills, abilities, or competencies that some employer somewhere has decided is worthy of paying them enough money for them to be able to buy a home.

I also assume that most people who become Board Members do have the capacity to be contributing members to that Board and the HOA, but that the voluntary nature of the position typically results in the related activities falling low on the list of all other priorities we have daily. Add to that the different personality types, work ethics/initiative, values/morals, etc. that each Board Members possess which wind up pushing the the Board in separate directions, and opportunities are rarely made/taken to make the changes that are needed to create a unified/cohesive team.

All that said, AnnaJ1, I offer the following thoughts for consideration (copying some of what others have said as well):
- Simply stop doing so much of the work. Prioritize and do only what MUST get done. (Sandwich Board does not. Meeting with County about lawsuit does.)
- Seek help from outside the Board (other neighborhood volunteers) for things that could be delegated. Provide deliberate and meaningful tasks/activities to these volunteers. These folks could be good future Board Members too.
- Continue asking the existing Board Members for help. If they refuse, then find out why they will not assist. Perhaps there is good reason for their refusal to help that might help you adjust how you operate. Perhaps not.
- (As someone mentioned) If they have no good reason, straight-up ask them to resign (but first make sure you have a plan to backfill their Board/Officer positions). And if more than one wants to resign, then do it in an organized manner so your Board is never without quorum needed to appoint new Directors.
- Find out a way to delegate additional tasks to PM. Perhaps they can take on more work. Or perhaps you can pay them more to do additional things.
- Figure out a way to give the Events Committee (and other committees) more autonomy so interfacing with them isn't necessary or becomes less frequent.
- Add more Board Members or Officers. Typically the Board Members are also the Officers, but that typically is not what the documents require. You could very well have a certain number of Board Members and add other non-Board Member Officers. It gets a bit confusing, but is a way to add more people to the HOA leadership team to possibly accomplish more stuff.

Good luck!
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:55


09/01/2021 7:59 AM  
I've done research on this, and have come to the conclusion that most boards are made up with 1 or 2 people that do all of the work, and the remaining 3-5 coast along.

BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:558


09/01/2021 8:38 AM  
The simplest way to find out information is ask.

Ask these board members -on the phone or in person so they can't just ignore you - do you enjoy being on the board? Do you have time to serve? Is there something that would make it easier for you to participate?

Board service is exactly that - service. It's not reasonable to expect people to take on a second job; that's how you get burnout and anger. Minimize the workload for board members and you'll get and keep good members.

My general advice:

1) Have regular meetings. A well run meeting (which is a whole other topic), will accomplish more in one hour than a month's worth of emails.
2) Create policies so that the board doesn't have to make a million decisions. For example, routine budgeted expenses shouldn't require additional board approval beyond the budget itself. I would never seek separate board approval to renew the insurance policy. When you create the budget, you budget for insurance renewal don't you? So why are you out there trying to get approval for an expense that was already approved?
3) Outsource as much as you can to paid services or volunteers. With the caveat that boards that rely on volunteers to save money will find themselves in a bind as soon as volunteers move or simply don't want to do the work anymore. Boards are there to make decisions, let someone else do the legwork and research for whatever thing the board is deciding on.
4) Have realistic expectations. Other people simply may not care as much as you do about what color the pool loungers are or what flowers go at the entrance, etc. That's okay. Empower the person who does care to make those decisions.
ND
(PA)

Posts:631


09/01/2021 9:50 AM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 09/01/2021 7:59 AM
I've done research on this, and have come to the conclusion that most boards are made up with 1 or 2 people that do all of the work, and the remaining 3-5 coast along.




Your conclusion sounds accurate given my own experience as well. But I'd be interested to see the data from your research. That said, the trick is to not necessarily be satisfied with or accepting of that being the case for a prolonged period of time, but instead identify that is the case and then make necessary adjustments to try and change that situation . . . whether it's better dividing the workload, lessening the overall workload, motivating existing board members, getting new board members, or any number of other possible changes.

BarbaraT1's advice is great to get after making the changes needed!

Finally, your scenario assumes a Board of 5 or 7. When I was on my Board, I identified the same thing (that I and maybe 1 more person were doing bulk of work and other 3 were not much help). I managed to shrink our Board to only 3 people (our docs allowed for a Board of "no less than 3, and no more than 5"). For the time I remained on the Board, that ensured only 1-2 freeloaders instead of 3-5.

AugustinD


Posts:1585


09/01/2021 10:00 AM  
Posted By ND on 09/01/2021 9:50 AM

Your conclusion sounds accurate given my own experience as well. But I'd be interested to see the data from your research. That said, the trick is to not necessarily be satisfied with or accepting of that being the case for a prolonged period of time, but instead identify that is the case and then make necessary adjustments to try and change that situation . . .
Maybe the best thing to do where only one or at most two directors are engaged is ask for the rest of the board to delegate the bulk of the day-to-day tasks to the one or two directors. That way these hard-working unpaid one or two directors might be less likely to burn out and also might be a lot less resentful of those directors not pitching in meaningfully.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:55


09/01/2021 10:38 AM  
Board service is exactly that - service. It's not reasonable to expect people to take on a second job; that's how you get burnout and anger. Minimize the workload for board members and you'll get and keep good members.


I am not sure I agree with this.

An HOA/COA is an organization with a huge operating budget (oftentimes hundreds of thousands of dollars) and it takes time to effectively provide contract administration to support the professionals that are executing the contracts. My estimate is each thousand dollars of money spent takes approximately 1 hour of volunteer time to support.

Associations could hire people to perform the contract administration, but most homeowners don't agree with that and prefer that the board volunteers their time to run the board. It stretches the dollars further and they complain less about dues being too high and not much money being spent for the amount of dues being collected.

So I think that it is a second volunteer job for that 1 or 2 people that are active on the board. It is for me at least. I don't see an easy way around it being a second job for at least one person on the board.
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