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Condominium boards play a very important role in maintaining the standards and operations in communities. For an efficient management of the communities they belong to, the board members need to operate as a unitary group.
But when individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, personalities, perspectives, beliefs and sets of skills work together, disagreements inevitably arise. Depending on how differences are managed, they can morph either into constructive debates or disruptive conflicts.
Since disruptive divergences can damage relationships, and lead to division and dissension among board members, it’s critical that you address one essential aspect: the best way to deal with difficult board members.
Condo Boards: Dealing with Disruptive Members the Right Way
As an experienced condominium and rental property management service provider in Alberta, we’ve heard many condo board horror stories that could have been easily avoided.
But one positive thing is that some of these stories provide good examples of how to handle problem board members and resolve conflicts effectively. That being said, the case study presented below offers some practical advice on how you can deal with difficult members.
The condo board problem:
It all began when a previous director resigned, and a new one was elected. Within several months, the new director started to be very difficult to work with. As time went on, he became more argumentative, unreasonable and difficult to please.
Not only was he constantly talking over his fellow board members, shouting to make his views heard and challenging board’s decisions and results; he was also failing to complete the tasks assigned to him. Not to mention that he used to routinely show up late and unprepared to board meetings.
The condo board solution:
To solve the problem and prevent conflicts from arising in the future, a series of measures have been implemented.
- Finding the source of the problem. The other board members spoke to the director in question, taking a collegial tone to make the dialogue constructive. They described the unacceptable behaviour, using specific examples, and explained how it affected their activities. The board also made it very clear that certain behaviours were no longer going to be tolerated.
- Weighing circumstances. The president ensured the director was fully aware of his duties and talked about his concerns. As he lost interest and faith in the collective capabilities of the other board members, the president required him to come up with solutions to fix the problem. The director also admitted that he was unable to complete his tasks due to lack of time. Therefore, part of his work was reassigned to other members.
- Redefining roles and responsibilities. A special meeting was held to remind the board members of the organizational values, their duties and their ultimate responsibility: doing what’s best for the community. The president also talked about the importance of playing an active and positive role in helping the community to move forward.
- Addressing common problems. To minimize tension and reduce conflicts, the board decided to set minimum attendance thresholds and place time limits on individual contributions and discussions. Also, to discourage members from skipping board meetings, attendance records started to be included on the agenda. In parallel, a new procedure was put in place to allow board members to take a short-term leave of absence when needed.
- Confirming individual roles. All members were required to sign a statement confirming they understood exactly what was expected of them and were familiar with the board’s ethics and conflict policies. To unify the board, a “no-surprise” rule was also instituted, requiring members to discuss certain issues before board meetings in order to avoid “gotcha” moments.
- Reviewing the selection process. The board reviewed the selection and recruitment procedures to ensure that all the members were selected based on their skills and merits. In addition, an effective orientation program was developed and implemented to enable new members to become efficient in their roles as quickly as possible.
- Preventing unfair or improper decision-making. A series of new rules were also put in place to ensure that all the procedures were followed to the letter and give each member the opportunity to discuss different matters frankly and openly during board meetings for better decision-making.
- Encouraging respectful relationships. To help board members develop positive and mutually respectful relationships, they were encouraged to interact informally, outside the boardroom. Within weeks, open and positive relationships started to inject a greater degree of respect and understanding, making board meetings more efficient.
- Removing troublesome members. The board’s set of rules were complemented with detailed procedures for removal of difficult members, as a very last resort.
Board Members are an asset
A difficult board member can prevent your condominium board from operating efficiently. And the worst thing is that problem behaviour tends to worsen when left unaddressed. However, you can avoid most of the problems a difficult member might cause by implementing the measures presented above. Your condo members are an asset, make sure they stay that way.
Nowadays, many condo boards enlist the services of professional property management companies to effectively leverage their expertise in order to handle day-to-day operations.
Hiring an experienced and reliable property management company like Magnum York Property Management Ltd., which has been in business since 1992, is an excellent way not only to take much of the burden off your board members’ shoulders—which will reduce tension and eliminate conflicts; but also to ensure that your community gets the worry free, personalized management along with the maintenance, legal, accounting and emergency response expertise it deserves.