As a member of your homeowners’ association (HOA) board of directors, you have a responsibility to ensure the association enforces rules, maintains common areas, manages finances, and supports the community.
While serving on the board is a volunteer position that can easily become overwhelming, maintaining a positive environment is key. A positive environment promotes collaboration, motivates new members, and enables future success. However, when board morale runs low, it can have negative effects on the community. Here’s how low morale may create a toxic environment and tips for boosting your board’s overall motivation.
How Does Bad Morale Negatively Impact a Community?
There are many factors that may lead to low morale within a board of directors, such as overwhelming workloads, feeling unappreciated, unclear expectations, and frustration with inconsistent communication. When there's low morale at the board level, it can eventually seep into the community and have lasting impacts.
Poor board member morale can affect a community in several ways, including:
- Poor communication - Low morale often means HOA members don’t take the time to communicate clearly, which can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings.
- Puts the credibility of the board in question - When the community sees the board is not working well together, it can diminish their trust in those leaders.
- A drop in the quality of services - Unmotivated HOA board members may fail to take the time to ensure community services and shared areas are up to par.
- Low productivity - Poor morale can also make board members reluctant to complete tasks or meet deadlines.
- Failure to resolve conflicts - A significant role of board members is to help resolve misunderstandings. Low morale can mean the board lacks the drive to help settle these conflicts.
- Board members resign - Another outcome of unhappy board members is high turnover, leaving projects unfinished and the community without strong leadership.
- Unsatisfied homeowners - Ultimately, homeowners can become dissatisfied with the community and may even choose to leave when the board fails in its efforts.
Low morale is more than just an internal problem for HOA leaders. It can result in bigger issues with negative consequences that could spiral out of control if left unaddressed. If you can work together to boost HOA board member morale, it may help to improve productivity, communication, and community satisfaction.
Tips for Boosting HOA Board Morale
There are several ways you can address negative feelings on the board and promote a more positive environment:
1. Encourage Communication and Collaboration
The most important thing you can do to build collaborative energy within the board is encourage open and easy communication. When board members feel like their opinions are valued, it builds trust and confidence. Some ways to do this include:
- Allowing for virtual meetings, so all members can participate
- Having an open dialogue about your workload
- Offering to help one another where you can
- Teaming up on big projects
- Including all board members when making decisions
2. Prioritize Internal Conflict Resolution
Along with better communication comes the potential to understand different perspectives and resolve conflicts more effectively. Low morale often stems from board members disagreeing and not being able to reach a compromise. You can avoid this by keeping an open mind, acknowledging others’ views, and approaching those with dissenting opinions to talk it out.
If you decide to prioritize internal issues, it can give your group a stronger connection and put you in a better position to help community members resolve their disagreements.
3. Use Team-Building Exercises
Getting to know fellow board members on a more personal level can help you understand what motivates your colleagues and how they approach problem-solving. A great way to do this is through creative team-building activities that are short, fun, and the perfect way to bring the group together.
4. Recognize Achievements
One of the quickest ways to boost morale in any situation is to recognize efforts and celebrate achievements. Even a simple gesture can go a long way, such as bringing donuts to the next meeting as recognition for exceeding a fundraising goal. Also, consider making announcements in your HOA newsletter to share board member wins.
5. Show Appreciation to Other Board Members
On a more internal note, showing personal appreciation to other HOA board members can make a big difference in a person’s mood and self-confidence. Let your peers know you see their hard work and express gratitude for efforts regularly.
6. Focus on Positive Community Impacts
When board members make a positive impact on the community, it helps boost spirits and reinforce that what they’re doing is effective. Try to focus on how your HOA board can make meaningful changes that’ll benefit the entire community. Some examples include:
- Developing a recycling program
- Building a community garden
- Hosting meet-and-greet events for new residents
- Organizing free fitness classes for the community
7. Share the Workload
As HOA leaders, your community improvement goals often come with heavy workloads. To avoid the burnout that can accompany those long to-do lists, consider forming HOA committees to get work done more efficiently. Sharing responsibility can help ease pressures. It also gets other HOA members involved, which can boost community interest and participation.
8. Recognize the Signs of HOA Board Member Burnout
Dwindling morale is not always obvious. In fact, board members may not even realize their frustration until the effects have already taken their toll. Learning to spot the signs of burnout in your colleagues can help you intervene earlier and avoid the negative impact of a disconnected board. Board members may be burnt out if they:
- Become detached or disinterested
- Stop contributing to discussions
- Approach every topic with anger or frustration
- Appear scattered or overwhelmed
- Continuously miss deadlines
If you recognize these signs, check in with that person frequently and use these tips to improve the board’s overall morale.
Positive Communities Start with the HOA Board
Being an HOA leader isn’t always simple—but positivity is key for board members to work together and make meaningful enhancements to the community. While board members often put forward their best effort to succeed in, mistakes can happen. Read our ebook, “8 Mistakes Board Members Make & How to Avoid Them,” to discover how to avoid costly mistakes and become a more effective board member in the process.