Why is it that the words “parliamentary procedure” and “Robert’s Rules of Order” strike fear into the hearts of many people? The purpose of parliamentary rules is to help your HOA Board make group decisions after a fair discussion. It’s a way of conducting business in meetings that lets you operate efficiently and effectively. The rules can seem complex, but most of the procedures can be traced to four fundamental principles that can improve your Board meetings.
1. One Speaker Speaks At a Time. When you think of this as simple courtesy, it takes the fear out of who may get the floor to speak and when a speaker may be interrupted. You make no headway on a topic when multiple people try to talk because other Board members cannot hear what is being said. If a Board member is speaking, then others should be quiet. If another Board member feels the need to interrupt, he or she should follow the rules.
2. One Question Is Decided At A Time. The basic rule is that only one topic is discussed at any one time according to its rank in order. If the topic under discussion raises another topic, the rules provide a way for the subsidiary topic to be decided before the primary topic. Basically, the rule is that when one motion has precedence, all pending motions are to be decided in order.
3. The Speaker Must Be Respectful. The rules facilitate that every member of the HOA Board be respectful of each other as they discuss and debate a motion. Disrespectful behavior is not tolerated, and any member can raise a point of order when another member fails to maintain respectful behavior.
4. Everyone’s Rights Are Protected By Balancing Them With Each Other. Parliamentary procedures balance the rights of the members. This includes the rights of the majority, the minority, the individual and absentee members. Knowing that the rules help balance and protect everyone’s rights make it easier to understand why the rules are intricate and detailed.
Applying these basic principles in your HOA Board meetings will help implement order and structure. A quick reference may suffice in keeping your Board members on track. If you need more guidance, request assistance from the presiding officer or get your own copy of Robert’s Rules Of Order.
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