Are you struggling to separate your role as a Board Member vs. simply being a homeowner from your community neighbors while living in your association community? If so, then this guideline is a must-read. We are sharing 4 easy tips to help you get started on the path to living in your community instead of only being defined by your role in running it.
Does this scenario ring a bell?
You are making a quick exit to attend a (fill in the blanks), and you are running a bit late, a neighbor corrals you to discuss an association issue. You want to keep the communication lines open, but this is just a really bad time for you. Your experience has been that if you stop to answer 9 times out of 10, the discussion is never brief. And probably just as often, what you really want to say is, “Listen, this is just a volunteer position – I do have a real life.”
How do you effectively handle these incursions in your private time?
When you live and volunteer in your neighborhood, you often suffer from “Deer in the Headlights” syndrome. Mitigate those pesky situations while effectively setting boundaries that all can be content with.
How to Effectively Separate Board Responsibilities From Community Living
- Clearly, communicate your role in the community.
If possible, send out a community email or letter, or newsletter outlining the proper venue for addressing HOA issues. Be very clear about defending your personal time while providing specific times you can be available for your Board role duties. If you do not have a management company, set up an email account designed specifically for communications related to the community. Gently remind folks that you need everything in a written format to share the issue with ALL board members. Written responses are necessary documentation so that issues can be tracked appropriately. If you have a management company, then you are in luck. Have the property manager handle all requests and properly funnel them to the appropriate person.
- Don’t answer the phone.
Set up an auto-response that directs folks to the proper channel. Again, if you have a management company or community website suggest to your neighbors, they start there. And remind them that if this is a real emergency, they need to call 911, not you.
- Hire a property management company.
If you are self-managed, it is well worth the peace of mind for everyone to have a management company filter and direct questions. It may be something as simple as a landscape question. You do not need to take those calls.
- Have a well-constructed HOA Website.
Having a community website with a private members page that handles association documents is a fabulous time saver. Many common questions can be answered such as:
- Who takes care of our roofs?
- How much money do we have?
- I see a blatant violation. Can I file a report?
- Where do we pay our Dues?
- Do we have a newsletter?
Carefully defining your private time vs. your volunteer Board member time helps non-board members understand when crossing the privacy line. To remain effective in the community, a mutual respect system for one another’s time is essential for effective discourse.
Rinaldo Acri of Acri Community Realty says, “Sometimes, to keep the peace, it is far easier to let a management team handle contentious situations.”
Far too often, wanting to help backfires, and former friends can become adversaries. Board members need to safeguard their personal time and their association efforts to not suffer from burnout. This is when a management company really comes in handy.