If your association is lucky, homeowners with good intentions will volunteer to run for the board. They will be sincerly committed to doing the best they can for their neighbors and the community at large. But why leave it to chance?
Current board members can play a key role in developing new leaders for the community, welcoming and encouraging the participation of new comers and guiding them in governance proceedures and policies. They should be constantly searching for the community’s next group of leaders.
It is in the best interest of every association to make recruitment of new volunteer leaders an ongoing process. After all, these individuals will be responsible for fostering and maintaining the fiscal health, property values, vitality and livability of the communities they serve. Whether an association has recently transitioned from the developer, or has been under homeowner control for a long time – it’s never too late to create a recruitment and training plan to ensure a responsible and effective association board for years to come.
Make It Personal
Talk to residents. The first step in any recruitment program should be to get to know the homeowners living in the community.
Plan Social Events. Plan a community event and reserve time for residents to ask questions about the association and its operations. Besides building a sense of community, such events can give board members a chance to meet people who care about the community and make an appeal for their assitance in governing the association.
Encourage their ideas. Gather their views on current issues the association is facing. Let them know how much their help is needed.
Be positive. If board members are bickering and complaining, no one will want to join. Current board members should set a good example in their words and actions.
Send a letter or survey. While a personal approach is always more effective, board members can learn more about residents and their interests through questionnairs, surveys or suggestion boxes.
Advertise. Don’t overlook the obvious. Run and advertisement in the newsletter, post information on the community website and distribute fliers. That way, no one can say they didn’t have the opportunity to become involved or that they were excluded.
Involve potential board candidates. Once you have a good feel for the knowledge and talants of homeowners in your community who may be interested in serving as volunteer leaders, get them involved by asking them to serve on a committee or task force. This provides a great training ground for future board members and will also give you a better feel for their effectiveness in a group setting and the contributions they can make to the association.
Create a job description. After identifying potential volunteer leaders and engaging them in community affairs, prepare these individuals for the possibility of board service. At a minimum you should be able to provide interested homeowners with a job descrpition for board members. This gives them valuable information they need to decide whether to pursue a position on the board while simultaneously communicating the level of commitement expected from board members.
Hold an informational meeting. Plan a meeting for interested candidates prior to the formal nomination process. While it may seem counterintuitive, your job at this meeting is to talk prospective candidates out of running for a position on the board.
At the meeting with potential candidates, review the job description for board members. Give a realistic picture of how much time must be devoted to the association each month. Discuss the fiduciary and legal responsibilities of board members to make decisions that are in the best interests of the association when they may not be popular with some homeowners. Give recent examples. Talk about the importance of working together as a team, being open to different points of view and leaving personal agendas behind.
Teach and Tell
The educational process should continue after the election. Would you fly a plane without first taking lessons? Hopefully the answer is no. Make sure the new board members are provided the training and tools they need to do their job.