I have been to many, many board meetings. For the most part, we accomplish what is on the agenda. This does not mean they were good meetings. I stumbled upon a web-site in searching for resources for my visitors looking to improve their meetings. The Community Associations Network is an American website and although much of the information presented there does not work here in Ontario (legislative and legal differences), there is still a wealth of resources one can refer to. They have an educational video on how to hold effective board meetings . It is presented from the board’s point of view and management does not play a part. It is an excellent video that all boards should review. If there is a computer in the management office, I suggest they watch it as part of a meeting.
A board of directors should manage their environment in the same manner as a business. A three hour meeting in the middle of your work day is intrusive, why wouldn’t a three hour meeting in the evening be just as intrusive.
Just as there is in a work environment, a board should assess their board meetings on a regular basis and take action on those assessments. These assessments combined with a structured meeting environment should help your Condominium Corporation get back on track with its meetings. Here are some additional tips, your board should be fully prepared for meetings. If you have a management firm, then your property manager should provide your board with the information necessary to be dealt with at the board meeting. This should include, at minimum:
- An agenda
- A copy of the last meeting minutes
- A copy of the most recent financial statements
- Reports from any committees your corporation may have
- A management report
As a director, it is your responsibility to come to board meetings prepared. All material provided to you should be read and if you have any questions, ask them BEFORE the meeting.The Agenda
For the most part, agendas are stock standard listings of the order in which items are to be dealt with. They should be much more. They are a time line of your meeting. This sample meeting agenda includes times. This is a must on your agendas, and the board should stick to those times. If you run out of time, then the item should be tabled until the next meeting. This will help encourage board members to ask their questions before the meetings.
Approving the minutes should be a matter of a matter of formality. This is not the time to discuss items arising from the minutes. Your approval is an indication that the minutes correctly reflect the decisions made at the last board meeting. If there is a change to the minutes, then is should be noted in the current minutes and the previous minutes approved.
The financial statements prepared by your management firm should include a report on any large variance between the budged figures and the actual figures. This goes a long way to answering questions prior to the meetings. If you have a Treasurer, then (s)he should communicate with the property manager before the meeting should (s)he require clarification.
Reports of this sort are received into the Corporations records. Any decisions required should be part of the management report. The current minutes should contain a summary of the report.
The format of the management report will play a role in the effectiveness of your meetings. A management report should be divided into sections. At the very least, it should include: an update on out-standing issues, new issues requiring decision (this section should include any backup documentation such as copies of quotes etc.),and items for the boards attention. If you are not satisfied with the format of the management report provided, speak to your property manager about having it altered.
It may prove difficult in the beginning, but sticking to time frames for each item on your agenda will go a long way to helping your Corporation move to more effective board meetings. If your Corporation cannot complete its business within 45 to 90 minutes, then it has not been a successful meeting!