Meet John Anderson. He is your friendly association board member. He doesn’t know much about being on a board. He simply wanted to help his community, and he’s very willing to learn. And then there’s Anne Davis. She has been a member of the board for a few years, but it’s been said that she doesn’t communicate very well with non-board residents, and still has a hard time understanding certain rules and regulations that the board must follow.
Board members like John and Anne are volunteers who don’t necessarily come to the job knowing everything they need to know in order to fulfill their role. They don’t miraculously learn new skills or gain knowledge just by serving on the board. Both new (like John) and incumbent (like Anne) members can benefit greatly from learning new skills and enhancing the administrative skills they already have.
Before Anne and John even think about improving their skills, it's probably a good idea to identify what those skills are.
“Board members should bring a level of dedication and interest to the non-paying job,” says Michael Daniels,CPM, the chief operating officer of Cagan Management Group, Inc. in Skokie. “Sometimes they get roped into it and they don’t really want to, but it’s important that they know it’s not just a ceremonial position.”
Julie Cramer, an elected member of the Community Associations Volunteers Committee of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), agrees that getting roped into a board position is a common problem with new board members. “They ran, got elected, and now they aren't sure exactly what is expected of them,” she says. “What they don't realize is that they are now directors, and maybe officers, of a legal entity, not-for-profit corporation—and with that comes responsibility and clear duties.”