Keeping condo association business moving is a significant challenge communities face. There are numerous legitimate reasons why condos can move slowly. As volunteers with a fiduciary duty towards the association, board members must take responsibility and ensure that progress is made. Despite positive intentions, however, sometimes boards struggle to move the ball forward. It might be because of “dead weight” or non-performers on the board. It may simply be because Board members are volunteers and time is limited. No matter what the situation, these tips will help you ensure you maintain condo association momentum.
Draft a Complete Solution to the Problem
A challenge of non-urgent issues is that boards end up going around and around on them without progressing. No one takes ownership to progress forward, which disrupts condo association momentum. One of the best ways you can fight this is by taking the lead and providing a clear path forward and proposed next steps. Present a complete plan in response to a problem. It might be a draft response to an owner. It could be a series of questions to ask your lawyer. The key is it must be a strategic, complete response. If people want to disagree with parts of the plan and bicker over specifics, they can. But by starting with a complete solution, you stay at the leadership level and avoid getting stuck in the weeds.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
Another common problem boards face is they end up getting stuck in an “approval cycle.” For example, you might have a path forward that a majority agrees on. You then tweak it a tiny bit, and no one is sure whether or not they need to approve it. Some people stop responding, thinking they’ve approved it already.
In these cases where you’re making minor tweaks, instead of re-voting, you can consider shifting the model to “objections only.” Give everyone a set time for final review, and tell them they must speak up within X number of days (2-3 is good) if they have problems. This works well for less important items like research on a project or finalizing a response to an owner. For bigger issues, you likely want to take a different tactic. Something like a special assessment or a legal issue requires a clear vote. But for routine business, consider shifting towards this model.
Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good
Sometimes there is no perfect solution to a problem, and boards get stuck. Sometimes you need to come up with a decent or good solution and throw the ball over. This often happens when working with an owner who has a specific problem, or a major project in the planning stages. The search for the perfect solution can end up being an endless cycle.
Sometimes compromise is the best path forward, and giving up a little quality to dislodge an issue is worth the cost. If you find that you’re stuck on a problem, try for a 60% or 80% solution to maintain condo association momentum.
Being on the Board Means Being a Leader
Joining a condo association board is just the first step. Assuming you joined for the right reasons and not the wrong ones, you likely want to make things better. Keeping up condo association momentum means that you must be a leader in every meeting. If things are stuck, don’t be part of the problem – be a part of the solution, and lead a better condo life.