When new members are elected to the homeowners’ association (HOA) board of directors, it’s important to welcome them properly and educate them about community matters. This seems simple enough, but board members sometimes forget to take these crucial steps. As a result, new board members feel unprepared and are overwhelmed by their many responsibilities. For proper assimilation, here are 10 of the best ways to onboard your new HOA board members.
10 Best Ways to Onboard New HOA Board Members
New members feel enthusiastic about becoming part of the HOA board. However, if they are not guided properly, this excitement can easily fade. Here’s how to help them navigate the ins and outs of your association.
1. Welcoming New HOA Board Members
There are many ways to properly welcome a new HOA board member. Before getting into the more technical aspects of community management, though, it’s customary to send a welcome letter to new board members. This is just an informal letter meant to create some excitement for the new adventure that these board members will be embarking on. Include some of the things that the new board members can expect in the coming days, such as a welcome party or an upcoming board meeting.
2. Provide an HOA Board Orientation Packet
Apart from the new board member welcome letter, provide members with an HOA board orientation packet.
It should contain the governing documents (CC&Rs, bylaws, articles of incorporation, HOA rules and regulations), the HOA handbook for board members, the HOA board structure, a summary of roles and responsibilities, financial reports, meeting minutes, vendor contracts, contact lists, and other community documents.
With the orientation packet, new HOA board members can easily access information that will help them transition into their new roles. This will make orientation easier as some of their questions can already be answered by the governing documents.
3. Give Them Time to Familiarize
Reading community documents is one thing, but really knowing and understanding them is another. Provide new HOA board members with enough time to familiarize themselves with your governing documents as well as their roles and responsibilities.
If they have trouble understanding the budget and other financials, let them know that they can approach anyone from the board. New board members can become more effective and efficient if they do not feel intense pressure right from the start.
4. Establish Mentors for New Members
Consider assigning veteran HOA board members as mentors. Your new additions may have more questions that were not answered by the orientation packet. The mentors can also impart advice as they are speaking from experience.
Talking to someone who’s already in the thick of things can help ease new board members’ worries and anxieties. Veteran board members should also be honest so that the new additions can manage their expectations.
Through these conversations, veteran board members can gauge what the new board members’ interests and talents are. This can be helpful when it’s time to hand out community responsibilities, projects, or tasks.
5. HOA Board Member Training and Education
Even with a thorough orientation process, new board members will not be able to do their jobs without the proper tools and resources. Since board positions are on a volunteer basis, your new additions may not have expertise on community management, accounting and finance, and federal housing laws.
Training and education will provide them with adequate knowledge of these matters. You can also have seminars that teach new HOA board members on how to properly interact with homeowners and deal with conflicts or disputes. Not all states require board training and certification, but this is still a good practice to have in your community.
6. Involve HOA Management Company
Not all board members have enough time to properly orient the new additions. In this case, you can involve your HOA management company. Have them assist the new board members in dealing with their specific roles and responsibilities. The HOA manager can even take them along for a full site inspection. New board members can observe ongoing maintenance projects, get to know vendors and service providers, and even interact with the homeowners.
7. Stagger Responsibilities
Assigning a full workload can easily overwhelm a new board member. You should start by staggering their responsibilities so that the new HOA board additions have enough time to adjust. As they start becoming involved in community management, they will gain enough confidence and experience. Gradually, they will be able to handle more complex tasks or issues.
8. First-Hand Experience
Some people naturally learn best from experience. If you have board members who feel this way, provide them with the first-hand experience. They can immerse themselves by already taking on projects and special committees. Just make sure to provide assistance in case your new HOA board members need it. This is to prevent errors or liabilities that can affect the association.
9. Offer Initial Feedback
As your new HOA board members become more active in their roles and responsibilities, the board veterans should offer initial feedback on their performance. The board can analyze productivity and performance during board meetings.
This is a prime opportunity for the veterans to point out mistakes so that the new HOA board members will not repeat them. It’s also a chance to correct improper HOA practices so that they don’t become a habit in the future.
10. Emphasize Fiduciary Duty
To ensure the well-being of the community, all new HOA board members should understand their fiduciary duty. Even though board members are essentially just volunteers, they need to be accountable for their actions. They should always act in the community’s best interests and tread carefully when dealing with delicate or sensitive community issues.
Building the Best HOA Board for Your Community
To have an effective HOA board of directors, each and every board member should be actively involved. If you have newly-elected HOA board members, it’s important to welcome and orient them. This ensures that they have a good grasp of their responsibilities, as well as the proper procedures and guidelines for running your community. As long as you consider the 10 best ways for onboarding new HOA, you’ll be able to have the best board for your community.