Most of us wear many different hats in our daily lives. Perhaps you juggle the hats of a spouse, parent, worker, friend, HOA Board member, neighbor, etc. Keeping your personal and professional lives separate is challenging. Many HOA Board members find it even more difficult to separate Board responsibilities from simply being a homeowner. If you’re spending too much personal time handling Board business, here are some ways to reclaim your “good neighbor” status.
Getting to know your neighbors fosters better relationships. Informal social gatherings or enjoying community amenities are good ways to meet neighbors. Keep conversations focused on general topics about each other. When neighbors know you, they see more than just your Board hat. You are a neighbor.
Because you’re on the Board, you’re aware of your neighbor’s financial difficulties. If a friend is delinquent in assessments, it can be awkward or uncomfortable because your friend knows you know. Overcome discomfort by avoiding association business discussions outside of Board meetings. Don’t share with family, friends or even other Board members. Neighbors respect that you keep HOA business confidential.
Do you field HOA questions when you’re walking through your neighborhood? Community events? The pool? Seeing a Board member triggers ideas and/or issues that homeowners want to share. Instead of taking action, redirect the comments. Explain your Board’s process for capturing input, and provide the email or number to the resident. If your Board doesn’t have a contact protocol for non-urgent issues, establish one.
Board decisions aren’t always met with unanimous support. Some homeowners can be extremely vocal when disagreeing with a decision. HOA Board members have to live side-by-side with angry neighbors. So, you can’t go to the mailbox without someone catching you. Consider creating opportunities for homeowners to make comments and suggestions give homeowners an opportunity to express themselves. Making people feel heard goes a long way in diffusing anger.
Although your Board members may strive to enforce rules fairly, some homeowners will take it personally. One of the benefits that a property management company offers is to shift the viewpoint from personal to business. Delegating some of the daily tasks to the management company removes you from on-call duty. This will allow residents to see your “neighbor” hat more than they see your “Board Member” hat.
Distinguishing between being a neighbor and a Board member can be tricky. It’s up to you to achieve balance so that you can enjoy your neighborhood. Make the effort to retain or reclaim your “good neighbor” hat. You’ll be glad you did.