Any homeowners’ association board that has been around for any length of time has undoubtedly had some sort of turnover. Some HOA bylaws are set up to limit terms that board members can serve. In other instances, members decide that it’s time for them to step down, or they move on from the place of residence and their spot needs to be filled. Whatever the case, HOA boards are likely to welcome new members at some point.
Joining a board — even for someone who has interacted with the board for years, or even decades — can be overwhelming. There’s always a lot to learn, decisions that need to be made, and responsibilities to live up to. Many new board members find it difficult to get a handle on what their specific role will be and how that role fits into the board’s overall vision.
There are steps that a board can take to minimize the difficulties and smooth the transition so that a new board member feels at home and at ease as quickly as possible.
First, whenever feasible, the new board member should meet with the current board member they’ll be replacing. This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions, pick up tips, and find out how the soon-to-be previous board member handled his or her transition into the role.
Second, the new board member should be allowed to progress at his or her own pace, as long as there is definite progress. Forcing someone to answer questions they’re not comfortable answering or speak on a topic they’re not yet familiar with can spell disaster. Letting the new board member grow into the role is vital.
Third, it should be remembered that the new person is putting their own stamp on the position they’re filling. They won’t be exactly like the last person, nor should it be expected that they will. If the new board member has different ideas about what they should be doing or thinks of ways to improve things, they should be encouraged to explore, not fitted into a pre-existing mold.
The best way to make a new board member feel welcome is to make them feel welcome. Be patient, understanding, and open, and they’ll surely be an asset to the board and the entire association.
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