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This video discusses the importance of alignment between board members in more detail. 
Let's face it, no one is perfect and everyone can make mistakes. Your community's board members will always have room for improvement. A stand-out community's management will conduct an HOA board self-assessment at least once a year. 

When community managers, board members or trustees perform self-evaluations, it gives them a chance to look inward and observe what's working and what's not for their community and residents. These evaluations provide an opportunity to compare their performance with the best principles and practices of community governance.  

At FirstService Residential, we understand the importance of board alignment and the positive impact it can have on your association. Here is an HOA board self-assessment guide that can be a valuable tool for your board members to track progress, stay aligned and assess the best strategy to match your community's individualized needs.   

Assess Your Association’s Needs and Goals 

Diagnosing your association’s needs is the first step in conducting an effective self-assessment of your operations and ensuring your meeting your community's needs.  

Here are a few questions your board can answer to ensure alignment: 

  • What are your board's current challenges? 

  • Are there any potential risks or obstacles currently facing your board? 

  • Does your board have short- and long-term plans in place to ensure future success? 

  • Does the board provide effective and transparent communication with its community's residents? 

  • What issues does your board agree and disagree on? 

These are just some of the many questions you and your fellow board members can ask to begin diagnosing the board's needs and ensure your plans and actions fall in line with your vision. For instance, if your association's vision in the next 5 years is to have the "best curb appeal in the neighborhood," are you and your management company being proactive with landscaping and maintenance? Remember, without a clear purpose or direction, a conversation with your fellow board members can quickly go off track, dissolve or become unproductive.  

Pro tip: You can download FirstService Residential's HOA Board Discussion template to determine the right questions to ask during meetings to assess your board's needs collectively with your colleagues. 

If you've nailed down your board's primary needs or challenges, way to go! Identifying your association’s needs is one of the most challenging hurdles you'll face when conducting your annual HOA board self-assessment. If you're still not sure (or are having trouble aligning with other board members), don't give  p! It may be time to connect with a community management partner to help guide you on this vital step. 

Identify Your Association's Obstacles 

HOA board self assessment

Every association board comes with its fair share of challenges. The difference between a team that thrives and one that just survives is how these challenges are handled. Whether it is navigating differences of opinion on your board or getting to the root of why a specific manager may not be fulfilling his or her obligations, you must understand the problems that face your association when conducting a self-evaluation. If reoccurring issues continue to come up during board meetings and you start to sense a pattern, chances are, it means someone on your team is not executing or performing as efficiently as possible.  

Here are a few common obstacles that can challenge the board's responsibility to protect, maintain and enhance the value of the community or property they're managing.  

  • Understand the laws: Association board members need to understand the laws surrounding a homeowner association to avoid legal fees and issues! These laws can vary from state-to-state and often take time to learn, especially for newer board members. 

  • Financial planning: It's crucial that the board understands what the reserve budget is being planned for and that a reserve study is done. However, it can often be challenging to understand your fiduciary responsibility at times and knowing what should (and should not) be line items in the reserve budget. 

  • Collecting HOA fees: Board members must understand that the association budget determines the association fees to help with services like building maintenance, landscape and other amenities that fuel the resident lifestyle of the association. 

Experts agree that in the end, it's all about what should be done for the greater good of the property and the residents. Ensuring you thoroughly understand what problems stand in your way is critical in finding a solution to those problems. 

Find Common Ground and Get Aligned on Next Steps 

Now that you understand the needs/goals of your board and the problems that stand in the way of achieving those goals, it's time to come up with an actionable plan that the whole board can agree on. If your association board doesn't get aligned to determine the most strategic next steps to resolve your association's problems, chances are, you may run into some of the following issues: 

  • Apathy: Lack of board alignment and agreement on the strategy of your association causes disinterest among board members. - Harvard Business Review 

  • Stagnation: Board members who report a relatively high amount of dysfunction are 60% less likely to make an ambitious purchase. - Gartner, Inc.  

  • Ineffectiveness: Somewhat aligned or misaligned HOA board members are 4 times less likely to be developing a 5-year plan for their association. - 2019 Board Effectiveness Survey 

The Benefits of Conducting an HOA Board Self-Assessment 

There are so many positives that come out of conducting an effective self-evaluation of your board. Coming together to converse productively and uncovering the true nature of your association's needs leads to: 

  • More confident decision-making: Uncertainty? No thanks! You'll be more confident and effective as a board. 

  • A happier board: Teamwork brings people together and creates a unified and cohesive board.  

  • Knowledge of potential challenges: Understanding your risks will help you make choices that prevent more significant issues.  

  • A vastly improved community: Alignment on what your association really needs can help improve the resident experience and enhance property values.  

Conducting an HOA board self-assessment gives your board the flexibility to make slight adjustments from one year to the next so that you can easily make changes and updates and track your results. Keeping the process as simple as possible, ensuring that all board members participate in their assessments and maintaining reports on your evaluation results will set your association up for success year-after-year. Make sure you review your results as a board and create action steps to improve your weak areas. Track your results over time so that your board gets better and better each year. 

Pro tip: You can download FirstService Residential's HOA Board Discussion template to determine the right questions to ask during meetings to assess your board's needs collectively with your colleagues. 

Contact FirstService Residential if you would like any professional help with board self-assessment or any of board or property management problems you may have. 

Tuesday May 25, 2021