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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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Board Talk: A Conversation About Inattentive Board Members

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A Conversation About Inattentive Board Members

APayne

I’m having an issue with board members who don’t read or respond to e-mails. When the new board came in place earlier this year, I asked everyone if they had e-mail and checked it regularly (at least once a week) and if they could check it and respond to e-mails because a big problem we have is that we take too long to make minor decisions.

We had two major capital improvement projects going on and I needed input, and only two people responded. When I call the others they don’t answer or return phone calls either. The board is supposed to make the decisions, not the president.

Since June we’ve been discussing proposals for a snow contractor. No one was reviewing the proposals and it takes up too much time at our meeting for them to review them at the meetings, which is why I send them beforehand. At the October meeting, the worst offenders kept asking to see other proposals. I thought, we are in October (and it should have been in place already). I know this is a volunteer position and there is no salary, but the building can’t run by itself. And how do I get people to realize you can’t drag decisions like that out for months because you need to actually contract and use the services?

anonymous

The short answer is: you probably can’t if that’s not their way of thinking or “doing business.” You can’t force people to realize anything. You can’t force people to respond. And you can’t force board members to act in a timely manner. Unfortunately, you probably have to wait for the next vote and get rid of them. Bring in people you hope will be more responsive, responsible, and respectable.

Other than that, speak to them in person. Call. Knock on their doors.

Good luck. I feel your pain.

DSI

Read your bylaws and proprietary lease. In some cases, only the president has to be an actual shareholder, and the rest of the positions can be filled by interested non-shareholders. Finding willing, capable, and honest volunteers for your board can be tough, very tough.

alan

You can ask them to resign and replace them with directors who will be more responsive. It’s confrontational, but if you want to solve the problem early, that is what you have to do.

anonymous

Alan’s answer is the technically correct one. Ah, were it that easy!

If the situation is anything like it is in my building, finding people willing to replace the sitting board is where the problem will lie. NO ONE wanted to be on the board of my co-op. And so few people showed up to vote that a vote wasn’t even necessary. Whoever stepped forward and said “OK, I’ll do it” was automatically elected. And it’s been a pain in the ass to get even those willing few to act in a timely manner. I feel like I’m pushing a rope and it’s gotten old quickly.

APayne

I agree. We are a small to mid-sized co-op, and no one wanted to be on the board. These folks reluctantly joined and were automatically “elected” because we can’t even get a quorum at our meetings since no one attends. But it truly is a pain trying to get them to respond, and some of them have no knowledge of how a building is supposed to run and think you can drag your feet on certain issues like major repairs. When I explain how you can’t and why, I’m looked at like the bad guy. Even the super is frustrated because shareholders complain about issues like the leaking roof and he has nothing to tell them, and the other board members feel like you can keep dragging out the process to choose a contractor for months on end.

 

 

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