How to Avoid Board Member Burnout
Serving as a director on the board of a homeowner association is an act of heroism. Each board member volunteers precious time and energy to ensure good management and protect the interests of the entire community. Unfortunately, too many board members find themselves resigning, far too soon, because of burnout. Here are some things we can do to avoid burning out, before it’s too late:
- Educate yourself. Newly elected board members should waste no time learning about their role on the board, seeking advice and guidance from others, and setting reasonable expectations and limits for themselves. All board members should take full advantage of the many resources available, such as the Community Associations Institute, online websites and management professionals.
- Set clear guidelines and define each director and/or officer role. A common reason board members burn out is that they didn’t know what they were getting into; not that the workload was too much, but that their role was not clearly defined or understood.
- Establish a predictable routine for meetings and reports, and stick to it. Don’t be dragged into a group email over an issue that can be resolved at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Don’t let unreasonable members control your schedule. With good management, and clearly defined roles, there is usually a way to resolve issues that come up between regularly scheduled – and routine – meetings.
- Establish committees where necessary to assist with decision-making workloads; such as landscape, architectural compliance, social events and annual elections. At the same time, make sure committees have clearly defined roles and routines, as well.
- Hire a professional manager or management company to handle the day-to-day operations; and professional contractors for any property maintenance or special projects. Direct communications through the manager, who can escalate any issues that you need to see right away, and reserve other questions for regular meetings.
- Focus on policy, and not work; governance, not administration. The board is elected to oversee the administration and to set policy, but should not feel compelled to do the work. The board sets policy in accordance with state law and the governing documents. A professional manager can make sure that the day-to-day operations are run smoothly on your behalf. If you are not satisfied with your current providers, self-management is not the answer. The answer is to find a better manager, lawyer and/or CPA.
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