● Board Members Must be Prepared for Meetings. Hopefully the board of your association receives a board packet in advance of the board meeting. These packets usually contain minutes from the last meeting, an agenda for the upcoming meeting, financial information, and information on other items slated for the board to consider. If your association is professionally managed, how far in advance board packets are sent out may depend upon the terms of the management contract. However, whether you are professionally managed or not, it is essential that every member of a board review the contents of the board packet prior to the meeting. This will provide board members with an opportunity to ask management for clarification on issues that don’t necessarily merit attention at a board meeting. Furthermore, the time that boards spend on issues can be cut in half when board members are already up-to-speed on the issues when stepping into the board room.
● Agendas Should be Timed. There’s no question about it, every association board should utilize an Agenda for board meetings. Routine items on agendas may include: Call to Order, Approval of Minutes, Manager’s Report, Financial Report, New Business, Old Business, and Adjournment. Obviously, the agenda for your association board meetings will be tailored to address the needs and action items at your association that require consideration by your board. In order to facilitate moving efficiently through an agenda, we recommend that each agenda item include a specific allotment of time the board will spend on the item. For instance, “Approval of Minutes” may be allotted 2 minutes. Under “New Business” you might have a bullet point for “Consideration of Snow Removal Vendors.” Since this item may merit considerable discussion by the board, you may allot 30 minutes or more to discuss this item. While it is impossible for us to tell you how long your board should spend on a particular item, we strongly recommend that you time your agendas and stick to those time allotments unless it is absolutely necessary to spend more time on an item.
● Do Not Allow Members of the Board to Go Off on Tangents. One of the most common mistakes that members of boards make is going off on tangents and not discussing to completion the item at issue on the agenda. Presiding officers at board meetings should cut off such discussions and draw the board back to the item at hand. Members of boards should also be conscious of not drawing the board off on tangents. When you find yourself going down this road, acknowledge that you have gone off on a tangent and immediately move the board back to the agenda item.
● Don’t Spend Hours Discussing an Item When You Don’t Have Enough Information. Every association board has done this at one time or another. You are faced with an issue that needs to be addressed and you don’t have adequate information available at the board meeting to fully understand or address the issue. As a result, you spend an exorbitant amount of time discussing possible scenarios that may bear no resemblance to reality and you cover every possible “what if.” Instead of spending precious time running in circles, we recommend that you determine what information the board needs to fully address the issue, how you are going to obtain the information, set a deadline for obtaining the information, and place the item on the Agenda for a future board meeting. If the issue needs immediate attention and you don’t have adequate information to make a sound decision, make plans to gather the necessary information in an expeditious manner and call a special meeting to address the issue.