Rookies No More Veterans Helping Newcomers

 Remember your first day at a new school? Most likely, you didn’t know a soul, had no idea what the students were learning and you probably felt  nervous, intimidated or maybe even afraid. In most cases, this is what it’s like to be a new board member. A newcomer walks into a meeting for the first  time, may or may not know a fellow neighbor volunteer, has no idea what is or  has been discussed and might also feel nervous, intimidated or even afraid.  Getting elected to a board is a big job and the members can also find  themselves unsure of what they've gotten themselves into.  

 New Kids on the Block

 To help a new student calm their jitters and get them up to speed with their  peers, a teacher will often appoint a current student to show the newbie  around, share books, introduce him to other students and give him the lay of  the land. The same concept works great when it comes to new members on a condo,  co-op or HOA board. “Veteran board members should mentor newcomers,” says Peter Santangelo, president of Community Advantage, a financial  organization located in Palatine. “It will assist the new member to get up to speed faster on protocol and  procedure.”  

 “Any profession, whether it’s the legal profession, finance or property management, a person can be really  good at what they do if there is a professional, experienced person guiding  them,” adds Timothy Haviland, CMCA, president of Community Associations Institute’s Illinois (CAI-IL) chapter in Roselle. “It can make the difference between someone being good at what they do and  someone being great at what they do.”  

 In addition to being mentored, Cheryl Murphy, CAI-IL’s executive director, recommends that new board members listen and observe. “Every board is different so in the beginning it is essential to just learn how  the board works together,” she says. “When I was a new board member, I didn’t receive any help or direction. It was on-the-job training.”  

 It’s standard operating procedure that every board member in an association  normally signs a code of ethics. The document states that board members will  act in a professional, ethical manner, the most important thing is the general  welfare of the association and that personal agendas are not important.  

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