Robert's Rules of Order for meetings

Roberts Rules of Order simplified 

If you're an active Homeowner Association (HOA) board member interested in optimizing their meetings to increase efficiency, Robert's Rules of Order for meetings might be the answer for you. Board meetings are a significant part of HOAs. They create the space for all board members to come together and handle all aspects needed to run the community correctly and within standards. Whether that relates to enhancing amenities or overseeing maintenance requirements, these meetings hold board members together as a primary source of organized communication. Successful HOA leadership requires that a meeting run smoothly. This can look like a meeting where all agenda topics are covered, and all members can share their input. Successful HOA leadership generally depends on meetings running smoothly.

However, difficulties can often arise during an HOA board meeting. These difficulties can be seen when trying to maintain stability during controversial discussions, when only a few members are encouraged to participate, or when navigating complex voting procedures.

Robert's Rules of Order for meetings can provide a comprehensive framework for resolving these problems and encouraging productive board meetings. This guide will help you explore how its principles and strategies help overcome difficulties in meetings, specifically within those on HOA boards.

What are Robert's Rules of Order for meetings?

Robert's Rules of Order is a manual of parliamentary procedure with a rich history. Established in 1876 by Henry Martyn Robert, it was created to set a structure for meetings and further facilitate decision-making. Its effectiveness has helped many reduce organizational challenges that have continued to arise in such discussions. Today, we can use it in multiple settings and organizations, including HOAs!

The main principles of Robert's Rules of Order were designed to facilitate board meeting processes. These include:
  • Equal rights for all board members

    All board members must have equal rights during their meetings. Board members in higher positions should not be biased towards certain members and should be treated equally. Similarly, if that occurred, there should be a consensus regarding violating these rights and the board's actions.
  • Always with a clear focus

    To help the debate stay relevant to the topic at hand, only one "motion" should be discussed at a time.
  • Have an orderly debate

    In the same way that the board should discuss one topic at a time, only one person should speak to follow the agenda's outline and stay on a tangent.
  • Practicing respectful conduct

    Board members should not engage in disrespectful actions or personal attacks towards one another.
  • The majority rules

    Decisions should follow the majority ruling unless an exception exists. In this case, board meeting attendees should discuss the exception before voting.

How to use Robert's Rules of Order for meetings in your HOA

Considering its principles, one of Robert's Rules of Order's many benefits is that they can all be adapted to suit an organization's specific needs. In this case, it is flexible enough to be explicitly tailored to HOA meetings and their unique circumstances, regulations, and bylaws. Each HOA is unique and might also experience exclusive challenges during their sessions. These can range from establishing additional regulations to addressing community concerns that need resolving, and both could easily create disputes that you could avoid if your board implemented Robert's Rules of Order. In addition to its main principles, the manual helps provide a general structure for the meetings.

The basic blueprint begins with the presiding officer officially calling the session to order with the meeting objectives outlined. This is followed by a roll call, establishing a quorum, and determining the minimum number of members needed to conduct the meeting. Officers and other committee chairs then read past meeting minutes to review, approve, or revisit the discussions and decisions. After these housekeeping elements are cleared, members present updated reports on ongoing or future projects and relevant matters. Opening room for discussion, board members propose and debate fresh ideas and their input on the given issues.

If anything requires a formal voting process, some HOAs contain bylaws that help make democratic decisions that allow equal participation. Some voting methods are familiar to many; they can use a voice, such as "all in favor, say I," a show of hands, or even a written ballot! After completing these processes, the offers or chair members can officially adjourn the meeting.

Strategies for effective HOA meetings

To better facilitate the diffusion of Robert's Rules of Order into HOA meetings, there are strategic tools that you can consider implementing into your meeting routine. You can create an agenda to keep meetings on track and organized. For better organization, you can also generate agenda templates that members can use for future meetings and have the same layout as the rest. These are also helpful in preserving minutes much more efficiently, as keeping a record of minutes that are organized and simple to follow can help current and future board members easily reference the documents and have more effective meetings.

Before starting a meeting, HOA board members must be familiar with Robert's Rules of Order; providing them with all fundamental principles and their entities can help manage the meeting time and focus, as board members can come prepared and know what to expect before the meeting.

Preparing HOA board members with insights on the principles can also facilitate the next strategy, which includes encouraging board members to participate and converse in the meetings. If prepared, this can help keep the Robert's Rules of Order "equal rights" principle.

Robert's Rules of Order motions

You can incorporate several commonly used motions in the manual into your meetings. These include motions to adopt, amend, table, postpone, refer, and reconsider. Although they all serve different purposes, they act together as a central basis for effective meeting communication.
  • Motion to adopt proposes that members accept a resolution or decision; it is also the final step in approving a proposal after it has been discussed.
  • The motion to amend is used when suggesting members wish to issue modifications to a motion currently under discussion.
  • Members can always motion to table if they prefer a point to be considered and further discussed later. This can be useful when more information or time constraints prevent action from being taken at that moment.
  • Similarly, the motion to postpone, which relates to delaying the discussion of a topic to a specific time or date, to manage the meeting's agenda and help all items receive proper attention.
  • Motion to refer can be a reason why board members may need to issue the two previously mentioned motions, as it is used to have a committee make additional studies and recommendations regarding a topic.
  • Lastly, members can use the motion to reconsider if any reevaluation needs to take place. These reevaluations can happen if a previously adopted vote needs revisiting due to new information or changing circumstances.
With this in-depth review of Robert’s Rules of Order for meetings and strategic ways to incorporate them into your HOA, you and the rest of your HOA board have all the tools necessary to begin enhancing and achieving more efficient and successful HOA board meeting processes!

To learn how a professional management company like FirstService Residential can support your community, contact a member of our team.
Monday June 10, 2024