It can be pretty intimidating when new members join an HOA community board. There’s historical data to know, board members to meet, and learning processes. It’s especially tough when there’s no defined outline or onboarding process.
It’s really exciting to bring in new members to join our HOA board. They’re typically inspired, engaged, and ready to jump in. However, it takes time for new members to understand the role fully. They’ll need to be onboarded, which can be a lengthy and sometimes discouraging process for new members.
When starting as a new board member, there tends to be a lot of busy work, reading, and getting up to speed within a short amount of time.
Before bringing on new board members, we encourage you to reflect on your onboarding process. Do you have one? And if so, is it streamlined and accessible?
As HOAs, we have the opportunity to work with unique individuals with different professional backgrounds. So, creating an onboarding process can help ease the transition into new roles, and you can avoid any bottlenecking or delays in strategies and initiatives. In addition, by walking new members through a simple and engageable onboarding process, they’ll be more confident, which will ultimately set your community up for success!
Whether or not you have an onboarding process or are starting fresh, we put together five ways to get new board members up to speed!
Review, reflect, and implement where you can!
Tip #1 - Observe Board Meetings
When introducing new members, a great place to start is by having them observe meetings before their term begins. By having them observe first, they can gain insight into how sessions are run, discussed issues, and board member dynamics – all before they’ve taken on any real responsibilities!
Additionally, incoming board members have the opportunity to build relationships and friendships with current board members.
Providing time for new and current board members to socialize and get to know one another creates a better working environment and culture within your HOA. In addition, when there’s familiarity within the group, people may feel even more comfortable disagreeing or questioning each other.
Tip #2 - Boost Communication
While having clear lines of communication is essential to any board, it’s necessary when onboarding a new member.
Outline ways that board members communicate and include their preferred digital communication style – this can be email, text message, or an online portal.
Having clear lines of communication will increase transparency and reduce the potential for errors. This will be especially helpful for new members to know who to reach out to and how to reach out to them when they have questions.
Tip #3 - Go Mobile
In today’s digital world, people do almost everything from their phones, and it should include their board member duties.
While you were able to streamline the forms of communication in Tip #2, there are additional ways to optimize your current HOA practices digitally.
One way to do this is to offer an online portal so that members can track projects, review and approve invoices, and visit their HOA guidelines. Additionally, creating a portal allows board members to track and complete tasks more efficiently.
Next, an online portal can be a one-stop shop for meeting notes. A few benefits to moving your notes to an online system are:
- Board members can review and reference notes during and after meetings.
- Board members can access critical information quickly and efficiently.
- A digital portal and digitally storing documents can also be more secure as you avoid the risk of losing anything.
- New members can have a singular place to reference when learning about the board and getting up to speed on previous discussions.
Ultimately, what’s best for your HOA board and your community is that everyone is on the same page and can access the most up-to-date versions of documents.
Tip #4 - Buddy System
When onboarding someone, connect them with a board member buddy! A board buddy is someone more seasoned and experienced within the role.
A board member buddy is one part mentor, one part friend. They’re there to help new board members:
- Get up to speed
- Eliminate intimidation
- Help them socialize
Tip #5 - Welcome Packet
Our last and most important tip is to create a welcome packet for your new members.
There’s so much documentation and paperwork when joining an HOA community board. New members need to review HOA notes, guidelines, rules, processes, etc.
We recommend condensing everything into a single packet and sharing the most valuable information and resources before they get overwhelmed by all the details.
Your welcome package should include sections on:
Try to keep this section short. We recommend about a page. It should explain the community’s history and any big accomplishments.
This section should include photos, brief bios, and contact information for current members and any companies you work closely with.
Board Roles and Responsibilities
In this section, review and outline the specific duties assigned to each role.
This will help new members understand expectations for their roles. Additionally, it’ll help them know where to go if they need help in specific areas.
HOA Guidelines & Bylaws
By having a space that outlines your board’s guidelines and bylaws, your board members will better understand the foundational knowledge of the board.
Additionally, it will provide information on the decision-making hierarchy and what they can (or can’t) do.
This may be difficult to condense, but include information like your annual budget or any consistent costs that board members would need to know and understand. Knowing where your board stands financially can help in their future decision-making.
Calendar of Upcoming Meetings & Events
Include a list of any meetings, social events, or community events that your board member will need to know about. Do your best to anticipate dates, so they can plan ahead and adjust their schedule as necessary.
Ensure this welcome packet is uploaded to your digital portal so your new and old members can access it.
Remember, HOA board members are volunteering their time to help the community. Therefore, it’s important to have processes to ensure a smooth transition and onboarding period.
Board members have unique backgrounds, and not all of them may include working on an HOA Board, so ensure that you can give them everything they need upfront and set them up for success.
Putting together an onboarding process may be time-consuming, but it will be worth the effort when your board members can get started and thrive!
If you’re ready to put together an onboarding process for new board members, or if you already have one and are looking to improve upon it, we’re here to help.