Why don’t YOU step up to be on the condo board? (Commentary)

Every condo owner has a point of view on the subject. Here are a few thoughts surrounding board participation.

Apathy (or something else) – Some of you bought into a condo community because you wanted to downsize, you wanted to be closer to work, closer to family, you have retired, you want to travel (a lot), you no longer want to cut the grass or shovel snow. In other words, you wanted freedom and, if at all possible, avoid as much responsibility as practicable. When asked to serve on the board of directors or help out in your condo community, you have no interest or desire to step up. You are part of the silent majority that will not participate unless you are forced to by circumstance.

Experience – Totally dependent on the size of the condo corporation, you may think that you do not have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to serve. While there is currently no qualification required to be a board member, the experience can be gained over time. We must capitalize on people’s strengths. Everyone has transferrable life skills that can serve a corporation very well.

Yes, there is a huge difference in shepherding a condominium development with a dozen units versus one with a thousand plus units (yes, they exist somewhere). Overseeing a $200,000 budget is a lot different than monitoring a $2-3 million-dollar budget. You have to start somewhere.

New v. Old – You may have been in your board position for ten years or more. Re-elected each year, you bring useful historical knowledge and experience that cannot be replaced and might prevent the board from repeating bad decisions. The danger is the tendency for you to fall into a rut. The rut of saying: ”We’ve done that before, it won’t work.” It is challenging to let go, to try new things, to evolve, to change. New board members ask more questions than the members who have served several terms. As a new director, you will (hopefully) bring new ideas that will build on the past without ignoring it or discarding it totally. The old need to teach the young and the young must help the old move forward. (Note: I do not use the terms young and old in terms of chronological age, but of years on the board.)

Continuity – Without continuity, your board will flounder for the first year, and, if re-elected it will do better the second year and so on and so forth. But when burnout sets in, stale contributions may result. The burnout victims are heard crying: ”I’m tired but no one else will step up.”

The answer is to aim for a blend of both worlds. To ensure that past experience is not lost and that new ideas keep coming. Board members should be restricted to serve a maximum of three consecutive years. After three years they should take one year off before standing for re-election (or at the very least serve in a different role – one term as VP and the next term as Secretary). Terms should be staggered to allow for a rotation every year. Such a system guarantees continuity and introduces new blood. As for the apathetic, you are not completely lost. Every now and then an existing board member needs to take you by the hand (figuratively speaking) and let you have a peek into what boards do. Maybe you will leave the nest and come forward. Best wishes.

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This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Louisa Ryz

    This is an excellent article and so very true. What happens, though, when the only board member who wants to be president (and who has been there for five years) is the only one who wants the position. None of the other board members want the job. . We will be having an AGM on May 8 and none of the other owners who have let their name stand for election want to be president. They say to me – “OK I will let my name stand, BUT, I do not wish to be president.

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