Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Growing A Replacement

How do we go about locating a person to fill a Board position?  One truism is that the best leaders are those who did not seek the position:  Don’t be a community that finds itself saddled with a one-issue candidate.  Spontaneously airing a complaint and announcing a run for a Board position doesn’t permit the neighbors an opportunity to weigh the merits.  Don’t depend on such candidates growing beyond a narrowed vision.

Many of us who have served on our community’s Board of Directors did so at the personal invitation of someone else.  However, being recruited and being effective is not the same thing.  Joining the Board without preparation of expectations is a recipe for disaster.

As a steward of your community, Board should not leave things to chance, but actively identify viable volunteers well in advance of the annual election.  Personally asking a neighbor to serve may be a scary prospect for both you and your neighbor, but the best way to ease a new person into the process is permitting him/her to sit in on deliberations without the obligation of making decisions. 
The solution:  Implementing a Board advisor position for your community.  Not only does it bring fresh perspective to the discussions, but provides extended periods of time for the Board to essentially conduct an ongoing job interview of the candidate. 

Your Association’s legal counsel may recommend that the advisor not be present during certain topics covered in executive session, to protect attorney-client confidentiality. 

Before activating this program, educate the candidate on what actions lead to loss of insurance coverage for the Board and the Association.   Have the prospective member sign a nondisclosure agreement.   Among other things, this agreement should note that the volunteer:
  • Will be working with legally-privileged and confidential matters, such as ongoing litigation, bid information and delinquency lists
  • May not disclose these items, even after leaving the Board, without Board consent
  • Must return all documents relating to Association business at the end of Board service
  • Will conduct duties with honesty, dignity, and integrity
  • Not seek personal financial gain
  • Fully disclosure any potential interests with vendors being considered for use
  • Abide by duties as recognized in the State of Georgia:
o   Duty of Loyalty – placing the Association above other interests, minimizing potential /actual conflicts of interest, maintaining confidentiality.
o   Duty of Fiduciary Responsibility – including being entrusted with the care, protection and use of Association’s property; addressing budget/safety issues or items that otherwise would degrade value of property.
o   Duty of Care – conducting oneself in a manner that a prudent person would be expected in exercising reasonable skill and care.
o   Duty of Obedience – being faithful to the purposes and goals of the Association; carrying out the mission of Association

After several months of meetings, the advisor becomes comfortable with the thought of being a full-fledged Director.  The Board may then appoint him/her to fill a vacant position, or encourage the advisor to run for a spot at the next annual meeting.

Once officially on the Board, it is vital that formal training via the Management Company or legal counsel be required.  Without a mandatory program, less than 5% of Directors tap educational opportunities to protect both themselves and their Association. The price of ignorance is too high to be ignored.

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