Ten Guidelines for Conducting the Affairs of a Co-op or Condo
Guideline #1. Do not adopt a policy or decision until you can individually and collectively answer the following question: Do I/We understand the ramifications of this decision or policy?
Guideline #2. All Board deliberations are confidential.
Guideline #3. A Board should speak with One voice. You risk abdicating your collective responsibility when you allow one member to convey his/her position, unilaterally to the management company as if he/she is speaking for the entire Board. Avoid having “side-bars” with your neighbors. Politely refer them to the management company for an explanation of building policies and procedures. Alternatively, ask them to send an e-mail to the Board’s e-mail address.
Guideline #4. Consistently apply your policies and House Rules. Avoid the “good Samaritan” trap of making exceptions because someone has an extenuating circumstance. Everyone has an extenuating circumstance. As a Board (Member), you want to avoid being the arbiter of whose circumstance is worthier than someone else’s.
Guideline #5. Read and understand governing documents (Articles of Incorporation or Declaration of Condominium, By-laws, Offering Plan, House Rules)
Guideline #6. Take actions and make policies in the interest of all community member. Make it a priority to understand what it means to be a fiduciary.
Guideline #7. Establish sub-committees. If every Board member tries to be deeply involved in everything the fact-gathering and analytical parts of the decision-making process will be burdensome. This does not mean you can go MIA, it simply means that tasks need to delegated so that no one member becomes overburdened (which leads to burnout) because he/she is involved deeply in everything.
Guideline #8. Be financially competent. Besides understanding the monthly financials, create an annual budget and a five-year plan.
Guideline #9. Establish a respectful and collegial working relationship with your fellow Board members. If you are not in the majority vote on a Board matter, dust yourself off and resolve to move forward to implement the decision. It is fine for Board members to express their individual opinions in meetings, e-mails, or on conference calls, but once a decision is made, all decisions are “unanimous.” Reread Guideline #3.
Guideline #10. A Board is a collaborative enterprise. Establish a process whereby every Board member weighs in on every decision. This Guideline avoids having any particular Board member dominating or making all of the decisions/policies, and also avoids giving Board members cover from what might in hindsight turn out to be a wrong decision.