Anyone of age that lives in a condominium has the opportunity to volunteer as a board member. In a building that has over two hundred owners, that’s a lot of people, and not all of them can be good.
If your stars align and you find yourself on a condo board with agreeable individuals, consider yourself lucky. Even good condo boards will find themselves in the company of a few bad apples now and then.
With an array of personalities to contend with, condo board issues can arise, creating tension and wasting time. A board member may not show up for an important meeting when their vote was needed, or the meeting may run for hours on a sidetracked path because a board member was disruptive. A pessimist could also find their way onto your condo board, causing nothing but trouble and frustration. Whatever the situation may be, it’s important to know how to handle this conflict and prevent it in the future.
Strategies for Dealing with Conflict
Know your position and board rules: One of the first things that can help you deal with condo board conflict is being up to speed on your policies and procedures outlined in the bylaws. Knowing these rules may be half the battle when it comes to quelling a wayward board member. In another instance, you may find that your position on the board doesn’t require approval from other board members to settle a dispute. If that’s the case, or you can find the answer deep in the bylaws, you can save your fellow board members a headache.
Redirect energy: When a newcomer first appears on the board, they may consider themselves to be a champion of a particular issue. The condo board can’t focus solely on this agenda. It could help to remind the new board member of their administrative duties to all the owners. However, if met with some resistance, these newcomers can become abrasive. Instead, redirect their energy to an issue that needs attention and take advantage of their get done attitude.
Learn the art of handling difficult people: When the above strategies don’t work to dispel the conflict, you may just have to pull up your socks and learn to deal with your problem person. You can try to be understanding; maybe their agenda is because of a long-time problem they’ve grown frustrated with. If the board member becomes visibly angry and intolerable at meetings, you need to have a face-to-face conversation with them. Explain that such behaviour in a professional setting is unacceptable and that you’d be more than willing to discuss the issue with them once they are calm and collected. To manage this kind of behaviour, the board president needs to regain their power and run meetings by the book. Following the rules exactly can deter bad behaviour.
Be proactive: There are a few steps the condo board can take to prevent bad apples from infiltrating the board. A nominating committee can be created to screen potential board members. It may seem like finding a needle in a hay stack, but weeding out undesirable board members will be for the best. Individuals who are experienced can be handpicked. The nominating committee would hold interviews for any open positions and get to know possible candidates to weed out unqualified owners. If worst comes to worst and your board wants to remove someone from their position, consider amending your bylaws to include this option. This amendment should include a list of unacceptable actions that may be grounds for dismissal.
Realistically, every condo board will see a bad apple from time to time. However, a bad apple has the possibility to be like everyone else. When conflict does arise, it’s important to know what you can do. Knowing your position and bylaws helps, as does redirecting their energy, learning how to deal with them, and being proactive.