Congratulations on your election. Your community has recognized something in you that gives them the confidence that you will run the business of their community competently, fairly and honestly. What? You thought you would just attend the monthly meetings and try to get that playground replaced, but now you're being told you'll be working on the budget, reviewing contracts, analyzing insurance and instituting legal cases against your neighbors! Relax, it's not all that bad. But, what you must first recognize is that you are not a member of the governing body of a business and some of these communities have a budget as big as a small town. Your first responsibility is to the proper operation of the business.
At MMI, we have noticed that most of the communities we take-over have had little or no management. By this, we mean the board members have not been trained and the management agents are either unsuccessful at communicating the duties of the boards or are unaware themselves. We've seen budgets that do not meet fixed operating expenses, insurance policies that have not been updated for years (thus rendering the building less than 1/2 covered in the event of a fire), maintenance issues that have existed for years without attention and the list goes on. Your job is to develop a plan to identify the needs of your community, fund the costs of operation, plan for the future and to implement programs that meet the various needs. This takes training and leadership. Your professional manager should provide that leadership and you should weigh the advice against your own instincts.
There is an organization dedicated to training managers and board members. It is CAI, the Community Associations Institute, http://www.caionline.org/. Join and participate. You will find the resources on their website to learn about being a board member or officer and you'll have access to a wealth of printed material on subjects like bid solicitations, parking lot maintenance and developing rules & regulations. CAI offers classes nationwide granting designations for managers (CMCA, AMS and PCAM) and training for board members by experienced community association managers and attorneys. I serve on my local chapter's Publications Committee where we publish a magazine for our members. Often, I write for the magazine and I have decided to take the challenge, both at the local level, through CAI, and nationally, through this Blog, of educating board members on how to adequately perform and, at the very least, to recognize whether they are receiving proper professional management.
If you are a working person; someone who is on the corporate ladder hoping to advance in your career, you just may find that your service on the board of directors of your community association will provide some of the most valuable training in real-world business you'll get outside your job. You will learn how to budget. You will deal with difficult people and you'll be trying to get something accomplished in spite of their interference. You will learn how to run a business. My job is to give you the basics and to tell you where you can go for more information. In the coming days, I'll be writing on a variety of community management functions, but if you just can't wait, please ask your questions and I'll try to address them quickly.