An effective and successful homeowners association needs a strong board of directors that understands its role and each member’s role.  But, the Board members don’t stay the same.  Changes in lifestyle, work and personal circumstances of Board members impact their ability to serve the community.  Thus, there’s an ongoing opportunity for homeowners to serve as new Board members.

New members bring fresh ideas and experiences to the community. While this is an advantage, it can also be a problem if the new person tries to make changes too quickly. That’s why people who are new to the Board make many of the same mistakes. With a little upfront coaching, your new Board members can hit the ground running.  Here are some tips for turning some of those common mistakes into successes.

Mistake #1. Not understanding the role of Board members. Many new HOA Board members believe their role is to “represent” the homeowners in the community.  Regardless of which office you are serving, your overarching role is to function as a member of the Board as a trustee of the association. You represent the common interests for all homeowners.

Mistake # 2.  Too many new Board members try to wing it at the beginning. As the new kid on the block, you have to learn how the association operates.  If experienced Board members don’t reach out to educate you about the association, approach them. Speak up at the first meeting and ask about a new member orientation or other Board member training.

Mistake #3.  Doing more than governing documents allow. Board members’ authority is covered in governing documents.  If it’s not in the governing documents, you don’t have the authority to do it.

Mistake #4. Changing the character of the association. Owners buy homes in an association because they like the lifestyle that is set forth.  Even if the Association needs to save money, you need to be careful not to make lifestyle changes without consulting the owners.

Mistake #5. Doing too much too soon. Many people choose to serve on the HOA Board for a reason, and they rush into trying to make changes.  Good decisions take time. It’s important to understand why policies exist and the background. Experience Board members will also be more open to your suggestions if you do your homework before leaping into changes.

Mistake #6. Changing vendors hastily. Many Board members want to start changing vendors immediately when they start their term. It’s natural to want to put your stamp on the way things are done. But, remember that vendors may have been directed by the previous Board to perform duties in a specific manner. Meet with vendors and contractors. Ask questions and get to know them.  Don’t pass judgment until you have the full picture.

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