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HOA Management Blog

At The Hignell Companies we have been providing professional management services for California Homeowner Association Boards for nearly 30 years. We love sharing our knowledge and perspective. Give us a call at 530-419-6032 if you have any questions.

6 Red Flags for Difficult HOA Board Members

February 16, 2018 at 9:00 AM / by HOA Expert

Difficult HOA Board MemberA well-focused board of directors is efficient, productive, and in most cases, a pleasure to work with.  The board of directors sets the tone for how things get accomplished and how the HOA is maintained overall.  But what happens when one, or more, of your directors has personality issues with the rest, or even worse, what if he/she has a hidden agenda and is self-serving?  Bogged down in disagreements, nothing really ever gets accomplished.  Sound familiar?  Read on.

Here are 6 Signs your board member(s) may be a problem:

1.    Different Objectives for Being on the Board

Is he or she really looking at what’s best for the homeowner’s association, not just personal benefits?  Is it ego or pride that goes with saying, “I’m the President” and not realizing the board is a team of people with a unified purpose?  The reason a person runs for the board needs to be uncovered before being voted in.  What is the reason for serving?  Try to determine what the underlying reasons are that a person runs for director’s positions.  Look for hungry, humble and smart.

2.    Antagonistic Atmosphere

If you walk away after a board of director’s meeting feeling like you’ve been beaten up, you are probably serving on an antagonistic board.  Does one member seem to be singled out repeatedly?  Is the tone unfriendly, or even hostile?  Does one board member remind you of high school bullies?  If your board member cannot resolve conflicting ideas in a kind way, perhaps some counselling would benefit the group as a whole.  Overall people skills are tantamount to effective boards.  If it’s lacking, seek out some help from a neutral third party, such as an attorney.  In the alternative, suggest the member consider resigning for the benefit of the HOA. For more tips on running effective board meetings read this.

3.    Overstepping Board of Director Roles

An individual not adhering to their role or overstepping their duty is another symptom of a dysfunctional board of directors.  The board must strictly follow the law and its governing documents and apply and enforce them in a fair and uniform manner. The board must consider all of the relevant facts and circumstances, identify the various options available, and carefully weigh which course of action would be in the best interests of the association and its membership as a whole.

Board members cannot act out of passion or prejudice, personal self-interest or gain, or through revenge or other negative motivations. The rational basis for all decisions must be the best interests of the association consistent with its purposes.

4.    Not Listening to Others or Eliciting Their Input

If one board member acts as if “I know better than you”, it just puts people down subtly and through a form of intimidation, in hopes to squelch someone’s ideas that may disagree. 

Functional boards work as a team; no one person is more important than any other.  Squelching comment or alternative points of view should not be tolerated.  Free speech!

5.    Disagreeing on Priorities and Objectives for the Board

Uniform goals and timelines are necessary for effective management of a homeowner’s association.  If one board member has a hidden agenda or personal motive in mind, this is the moment when it becomes clear.  Uncover this deviation of objectives during a meeting and make effort to reel in the goals of all members.

6.    Blaming Others to Elevate One’s Self

We have all encountered people like this.  There is no room in a homeowner’s association for blame.  Rather, confining discussion to situations, not people.  If someone dropped the ball on something, work together to find a solution.  If dropping the ball is a regular occurrence, perhaps it’s time that individual refrain from taking on duties other than showing up at the meetings.

Overall, a board member that exhibits any of the above traits does not have the association’s long-term benefit in mind when they choose to be on the board of directors. 

So what to do now that you’ve determined you have a dysfunctional board member? 

A) Counsel in private, one on one, and see if there’s an underlying reason for the hostility
B) Consider meeting with an attorney for training and/or guidance
C) Suggest that person resign or not run for re-election. 

If you need help navigating the difficult situations that often arise in HOA boards, don’t hesitate to contact The Hignell Companies for help. We have been helping HOA and Condominium boards to manage their properties effectively for over 30 years. We provide full Board Advisory and Accounting services to nearly 40 associations, ranging in size from 25 units to 2300 units. Our range of services can meet the needs that you have for accountability and service, and we ensure that everything we do is measured by our commitment to "Creating Caring Communities."

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Topics: HOA Board