If you’re hired for an executive position at a business or leadership role at a corporation, you’ll be expected to undergo training for the role. Likewise, being elected to the HOA board of directors requires training. While prior experience, like management, finances, and law, is helpful, but specialized education for HOA board members is necessary for success.
Board training ensures that board members fully understand what is expected of them and how to navigate their newfound role, or even how to successfully continue to fulfill their role as a veteran director.
Pillars of Effective Board Member Training
In order for board training to be effective, it needs to be accessible and concentrated. Training should be specific, easy-to-use, and engaging for all members of the board of directors.
Firstly, if applicable, new directors need to become acquainted with their partner management company. It’s important to build relationship a relationship with them, as they can provide expert guidance and training resources. If your board is looking for a fresh management company, check out our partners over at Spectrum Association Management, who manage the Texas and Arizona areas.
Upon election, board members should read and understand the governing documents and community guidelines. Directors should know the words that govern the association they serve so that they can enforce restrictions, maintain property values, and protect the community. Reading through the DCCRs is a strong first step in training board members.
Additionally, board members should know how to review HOA law. Training needs to include reviewing applicable laws and codes, especially understanding the hierarchy of law: federal law first, then state law, and local law last. Laws refer to statutes, case law, regulations, and ordinances. Furthermore, board members need to understand the hierarchy of HOA documents: plat maps > DCCRs > Articles of Incorporation > bylaws > resolutions.
HOA director training should also address financial literacy. Members will need to familiarize themselves with finances, learning how to read and manage them. Training should dive into HOA-specific documents and reports, so members aren’t overwhelmed come their first board meeting as a director.
Another necessary board training topic is understanding how meetings are run. Each member should become familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order and basic parliamentary procedures. Additionally, your board can issue incoming members with an official code of conduct, or create one if it doesn’t already exist. Board training can also include mock meeting practice so that members understand how meetings are expected to be conducted.
Board training is a good time to identify the talents and strengths of all board members, incoming or veteran. Training can be used to see who excels at what and support each member in their strong suits so that the board can be successful not only individually but collectively.
To make sure that your training is as efficient as possible, establish a training plan and update it as needed. Education helps freshman and veteran members alike, so adopting a consistent program that is regularly reviewed and revised when changes in HOA law or your documents are made is crucial. Reviewing training can also be used as a team building exercise at the beginning of each new election cycle. If your term limits are on the longer side, you should still regularly revisit board training to refresh everyone’s knowledge and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Furthermore, training provides board members with a better understanding of HOA business and their expected duties. By educating your board members, you can prevent liabilities, encourage best practices, and ensure a foundational knowledge of responsibilities. Also, training can help directors avoid assumptions about their role and prevent potential mistakes as much as possible.
Additionally, it’s important that your board utilizes the right resources for your HOA. Seek out certified and legitimate programs, like Boardline Academy!
Some basic training ideas include:
- Creating a handbook for incoming members and easy reference,
- Hosting an orientation after every election or appointment of a new member(s),
- Reviewing documents together on a regular basis, either annually or bi-annually, and/or
- Enrolling in third-party training, such as what your management company has to offer or Boardline.
Important Topics to Cover
HOA Responsibilities: This should include a fundamental overview of daily HOA business that board members are expected to understand and handle, from maintaining common areas to enforcing the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (DCCRs). Additionally, training should address the fiduciary duties and ethics that directors promise to uphold when they take office.
Leadership: This should tackle basic administration skills, such as organization, communication, and time management. Board training should also include team building and conflict resolution skills.
Legal Requirements: This should go in depth about the HOA’s governing documents and guidelines, as those are the point of reference of how the HOA should operate. In addition, training should cover HOA law, handling confidentiality, and how meetings and elections are allowed to run.
Finances: This should discuss the HOA budget, along with assessments, past due billing policies, statements, and accounts. Board training should also include basic financial literacy so that the specifics don’t feel so overwhelming.
Insurance and Risk Management: This should go over basic coverage your HOA needs and how to handle vendors and their necessary coverage, as well as committees and employees and their impact on your insurance policies. Also, training should include managing risks and how to minimize them.
Lot Improvement: This should talk about the duties of the Architectural Control Committee or Architectural Review Committee (ACC or ARC) and DCCRs and/or design guidelines violations. Additionally, board training should discuss managing the overall aesthetics of the community and how to maintain property values of the entire community.
What Boardline Has to Offer
Boardline offers various features, including but not limited to, a wide array of course topics with interactive videos; badges, achievements, and certificates to track progress; a boardroom group forum for discussions among board members; a regularly updated blog with up to date HOA tips and information; downloadable reference guides for future quick, easily accessible reference; and an overall user-friendly interface. Below are the current and upcoming topics that Boardline covers.
Current Available Topics:
Boardline Academy Orientation (ORTN-101)
- Covers the ins and outs of navigating the Boardline website.
HOA Basics (HOA-101)
- Discusses essential functions and board member duties, including HOA history, definitions, roles, lot improvement responsibilities, and meeting requirements.
Introduction to Association Finances (FIN-101)
- Covers information about HOA revenue and assessments, including the budget and financial statements.
Introduction to Risk Management (RMGT-101)
- Includes basic definitions and mitigation of risks and liability.
Business Ethics & Professionalism (BUS-101)
- Reviews HOA board best practices and fiduciary duties, including confidentiality, code of conduct, committee charters, and overall professionalism.
Basics of HOA Insurance (RMGT-201)
- Discusses basic insurance terms and types of coverage, including policy and financing basics.
Conducting Association Meetings (MEET-201)
- Reviews parliamentary procedures and methods for encouraging participation, including the process for motions and increasing attendance.
Covid-19 Safety Course
- Offers free training for office safety protocols for the ongoing pandemic.
Coming Soon in 2021:
Look out for upcoming courses, such as Beyond Governing Documents (GOV-201), Bookkeeping Basics (FIN-201), Annual Meeting Management (MEET-202), Financial Statement Essentials (FIN-202), and more!
Why It’s Not Just a One-Time Thing
Board training isn’t viable as one-time event for each member for many reasons: 1) state and HOA laws are ever-changing, 2) the needs of your HOA evolve over time, 3) situations may come up in your HOA that you may not know how to handle off the top of your head, and 4) it’s always helpful to refresh your knowledge. Education is most successful as an ongoing process, and board training is not different. Every director on your board can benefit from recurring training, which will in turn benefit your entire board and the whole community.
As always, we encourage you to reach out to us at Boardline with any questions or concerns you have HOA board education. Happy training!