BY CYNTHIA GRAFFEO 2016 APRIL
On a consistent basis, a group of elected shareholders or unit owners, for co-ops and condos respectively, meet to conduct the building’s business. This group is known as a Board of Directors (co-ops) or a Board of Managers (condos). The board makes financial and physical plant decisions on behalf of the building at their regularly scheduled board meetings. At its meetings, boards may face such challenges as:
• Discussing and adopting the building’s operating and capital budget
• Deciding whether to do a major capital improvement, such as an elevator modernization or roof replacement
• Enforcing the building’s policies, such as pet and smoking policies
• Listening to and addressing resident concerns
Considering all of these factors, Argo Real Estate recommends these tips for ensuring that the building’s business is conducted in a productive manner at each meeting:
Take steps to ensure a quorum
Sometimes board members have difficulty scheduling the next board meeting due to everyone’s variations in schedule. A way to overcome this is for board members to commit to holding meetings on a specific day and time each month (e.g., the third Wednesday of each month).
At other times, board members simply forget the meeting dates/times. Sending reminder e-mails and/or calendar invites, or calling attendees, are good methods for securing a quorum.
Send agenda, and draft minutes from the previous meeting, in advance
To ensure a well-organized meeting, the agenda, draft minutes from the previous meeting, and any supporting documents should be sent out a week in advance for the Board to review. This gives the board time to read through all documents so they are informed of the agenda topics and prepared to discuss them.
Set time limits for each topic
Notate on the agenda how much time each topic will be given and stick to it. This will help boards stay on track and cover each matter on the agenda. In addition, it will make the meetings more efficient. We suggest a board meeting be between 1-2 hours.
Appoint a meeting chairperson
The board should designate a meeting chairperson. The chairperson is generally the Property Manager or Board President. We recommend appointing your property manager as chairperson. The chairperson is responsible for ensuring that each item on the agenda is covered, that everyone is given the opportunity to express himself or herself, and to keep the board meeting moving along.
If the board is struggling to come to consensus on a particular topic, after each opinion has been expressed, the chairperson should consider the following:
Is there something I can suggest that would satisfy all parties?
Is there any information the board doesn’t have yet that might be useful to them to make a decision? Should the discussion be tabled pending that information?
Would a vote bring closure? If so, what exactly should the board vote on?
Is there something else I can suggest to keep the meeting moving?
Empower the chairperson to take authority when needed
Board members are elected and the board meetings are intended to be a democratic process. When the board is trying to come to a decision, the chairperson should be cognizant of calling on less vocal board members. The best board outcomes happen when everyone feels heard and has had the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Board meetings should not be a command and control environment. The chairperson is the conductor, not the soloist. Along with being conscious of the time limits per topic, the chairperson should respectfully vocalize when the discussion has digressed and lead the conversation back to the topic at hand.
For example, the chairperson can say “Okay everyone, we’ve heard each board member’s opinion. To summarize, the two options are:
Table decision pending further information and pricing; or
Take a vote and decide on the best vendor to perform the project.”
Apply Robert’s Rules of Order when necessary
Robert’s Rules of Order are a universally acknowledged guide of meeting rules for orderly and fairly conducted meetings. The guide can be found at bookstores or online. Applying Robert’s Rules of Order can be helpful when boards face challenges such as what procedures should be followed for:
• Conducting board and committee meetings.
• Holding electronic meetings.
• Preparing and adopting an agenda.
• Making and adopting motions.
• Governing debate.
• Governing disorderly conduct.
• Allocate Time for “New Business”
If a board member or attendee would like to discuss a topic that is not specified on the agenda, they may do so during the “New Business” section. This section should be placed close to the end of the agenda with a time limit.
Cynthia Graffeo is the director of client relations for Argo Real Estate, who regularly contributes to The Cooperator and other publications.