January 03 2011
With the New Year upon us here are a few resolutions board members can make to better serve their flock.
1. I will check my ego at the boardroom door. (You may keep your id since its unconscious so no one will know about it.) But a display of unchecked ego, a.k.a. arrogance will undo any good you may have done or will do, and land you in the penalty box. Hubris cost our Mayor a plunge in popularity when he ignored the people and gave himself another term, and forced our former governor from office for assuming he was too powerful to get caught doing you know what. Don’t let it happen to you.
2. I will read every sales application Potential buyers probably assume it takes forever to get approval because those directors are lost in translating the financial minutia in your multi-pound submission. But plenty of board members, especially in condos and buildings with condo like rules that have only a right of first refusal, hardly give them a glance, figuring if they’re not going to buy the apartment, why bother. It’s time to turn over a new leaf – or do away with applications.
3. I will not engage in deficit spending. Maybe the federal government can spend more than it has because it can print money on demand, but board members can’t which is why even in this tight economy the budget for the new year has to be balanced. If it’s not the board has to get money from somewhere – raiding reserves, taking out a loan, drawing on its credit line – all of which will only delay the day of reckoning and dig the building into a deeper hole.
4. I will not go AWOL. This can be a treasonable offense for enlisted men and women, but elected board members often go scott free because no one (except fellow directors) knows they have dropped off the radar. So if you don’t plan to do anything, don’t run. If you do but circumstances change legitimate or not – you get a new job or got married or simply can’t take it anymore – don’t just disappear, leaving board members wondering if you’re dead or alive, or worse, who will cast the deciding vote. Do the right thing: tender your resignation after giving them a chance to find a working replacement.
5. I will not use staff as spies. Building personnel are members of the 32BJ service workers union, not the CIA, though probably they could give those investigators some lessons on intelligence gathering. Doesn’t matter. If you want to use your power to ferret out wrongdoing by fellow residents, don’t make staff your accomplice by pumping them for information or sending them into shareholders’ apartments They’re there to maintain the building, not serve as undercover agents.
6. I will treat everyone equally. This is a hard concept for many would-be directors to grasp. But it is one you must master, even if it takes remedial training, because that’s what the law requires. This means you can’t use your position to reward friends and punish enemies. Whether you hate them or love them, or somewhere in between, you have to treat them all the same.
7. I will not engage in vigilante justice. Every building has House Rules, but they don’t allow you to take the law into your own hands. Remember, you are a board member not a one person police force. So you can’t make residents spread eagle or demand they empty their pockets if you think they’ve smoked a joint or coerce them into making video taped confessions
8. I will not assume that things get done by magic. As a board member you can’t just conjure up results, but have to accomplish them the old fashioned way. Your building is a multi-million dollar business that requires regular hands on care and feeding.
9. I will remember that I was elected to serve my constituents, not myself. This notion may not come naturally in this era of entitlement in which paid politicos help themselves to earmarks and apartments and lots more. But you live with your constituents so better watch out — for your sake and theirs.
OK, maybe these resolutions are harder to keep than a promise to shed ten pounds, but you’ll be doing a service not only for yourself but for all your fellow owners.