Problem HOA board members —every association that’s been around for some time will have horror stories about them. Elected association officers are, for the most part, people who are well-regarded in the community. Unfortunately, bad apples mixed in will soon have the rest of the officers dealing with misbehaving HOA board members, inappropriate board member behavior, or in some cases, even having to take an unethical HOA board member to account for their actions. What makes a good HOA board member just give up and leave? Unfortunately, dealing with hostile board members is one main reason.
Problem HOA Board Members: How to Identify Them
Just about any association of some history has experienced a troublemaker at one time or another. They make life miserable for what should be a fulfilling volunteer job. Problem HOA board members can drag out board meetings and can get in the way of quick and effective decision-making for the community. It’s best to address the issue before they can do too much damage.
Here are a few warning signs that you have a problem HOA board member on your hands.
1. The Absentee
The responsibility of HOA board members to be present at meetings is crucial for effectiveness. If a board member is habitually late or absent, this shows that the individual lacks the passion for their association, or that they are too busy to be effective at their position.
Even worse, these problem HOA board members may even get in the way of the board reaching quorum for important decisions.
2. The Abusive
Even the most harmonious of boards will still have occasional disagreements. This is okay as disagreements help everyone to come to the decision that will best serve the HOA. However, everyone on the board must learn to disagree respectfully and kindly, without insulting other board members. An individual who has a habit of lashing out or speaking unkindly may be a problem HOA board member.
3. The Buck Passer
Refusing to take responsibility either as an individual or as a part of a team can be a warning sign of a problem board member. It takes humility and maturity to take responsibility for an error, and a board will not be able to make any decisions if it does not identify when it has made a mistake and come together to rectify the problem.
Stop the buck passer from shifting the blame to others by making everyone aware that the shortcomings of the association reflects on everyone, and not just on an individual member.
4. The Bully
This problem HOA board member has strong opinions and is not afraid to express them. They alternate between force and manipulation to get others to agree with what they want. The bully may use intimidation, guilt, grandstanding, or even outright lies to get others on the board to vote on their side. If allowed to have their way for too long, this person is capable of sending the board in a self-destructive direction.
The best way to neutralize the influence of this type of person is to stand up to them and encourage others to do the same. When the bully realizes they do not have the power to intimidate the room anymore, they will usually back down. If you feel the need, it may be necessary to bring in a mediator who is experienced in dealing with difficult HOA board members.
5. The Conversation Hog
If you have a board member who consistently talks more than they listen, talks over other members, discounts everything that others are saying, or dominates the meeting, you may be looking at a problem HOA board member. Board decisions should be made by having everyone share their ideas, and the conversation hog gets in the way of that process all too often.
6. The Curmudgeon
This is the person who has a difficult time adjusting to change. They will do what they can to keep new technologies or ideas from taking hold on the board and will constantly push to keep things the way that they have always been. Their constant refrain will be “it has always worked before!”
The first thing to do is to realize that sometimes a hand that slows progress can be a good, steadying thing. Give them time to state their opinion, and listen to them. They may have a point. However, never be afraid to move forward if a new development or technology is really necessary for the strength and health of your community.
7. The Grouch
Attitudes are contagious, and a board member with a perpetual frown can set a downward tone for the whole board. This is the person that has a bleak outlook on every topic, and this may even be the person who is in the habit of grumbling about other board members, and saying negative things behind their backs.
Stop the grouch by not letting him or her dominate the discussion with their sour disposition. It’s important to let them have their time to speak, but then quickly direct the conversation away toward some of the more positive members.
8. The Interloper
The best board members are those who know their job as part of a leadership team and do not try to do the job of everyone else.
A person who has a difficult time focusing on their role in the community, while being overly concerned about the duties of other members, may become a problem in the future.
Dealing with Problem HOA Board Members Before They Sabotage the Board
It requires a firm hand to keep problem HOA board members under control and alleviate any issues they may cause. Establish a strict agenda and let everyone know that it will be followed carefully so as to eliminate any one person taking over the conversation.
Give board members a chance to change their ways by having a kind conversation about the problem behavior. Above all, set a good example of what makes a good HOA member. It may not always be possible to control how others behave, but you can create a better board by being the best team member that you can and showing others how they can shine in their roles.