December 2016 - The Sharper Focus - Board Member Edition
We value our clients and the partnership we have with your Association's Board.
The goal of this newsletter is to touch on general industry news and helpful topics that may help you better understand how Community Associations work.

Every Association is different in their type, size, scope, and how things are organized and established via the Governing Documents.  There are, however, several universal topics common to all associations. We hope you will find this newsletter a valuable source of information!

Board Tips: Utilizing a Timed Agenda = Efficient Meetings

Do your Board meetings typically last well over an hour? Do you often leave your meeting without a clear action plan? Is more time spent brainstorming ideas in your meetings rather than making decisions?

If you've answered yes to any of the above questions, a Timed Agenda could be a useful tool to help make your Board meetings more efficient and effective.

A Timed Agenda is just what the name says, it's a way to assign how much time will be spent on each agenda item. You can list the number of minutes to be assigned, or list the actual time for each agenda item. By assigning a specific amount of time per item and making a commitment to stick to only the time allotted, you'll ensure the meeting stays within a reasonable amount of time. It will also force everyone to come to the meeting prepared and in the mindset of making a decision about a particular topic.

When setting up your Timed Agenda, you'll want to be realistic about how much time is needed to accomplish each task. Approving the Minutes from last meeting should take no more than 5 minute, for example; however, approval of New Business items such as the Budget or contract approvals may take more time. Through it all though, you must remember the Board meeting is a time for making decisions. It is not a time to open and continue debating a topic. If you find you need more than 5-10 minutes per item, you probably didn't come to the meeting ready to make a decision. If not, it should be sent back to committee for more preparation.

Perhaps a Timed Agenda approach sounds over-the-top or like a micro-management philosophy, but consider this, if the Board of Directors for General Motors can run a multi-billion-dollar, international enterprise with four 90 minute meetings in a fiscal year, why should it take Happy Valley Association a monthly two-hour meeting to manage 100 units and a $300k budget?
Meeting Room Layout - It's Worth Some Thought

One of the most overlooked components of running an interruption-free meeting is the layout of the meeting room. Remember - a Board meeting is a BOARD meeting.  It is not a Membership/Homeowner meeting.  Homeowners may attend to observe or to address the Board during an allocated Open Forum however, the Board meeting is a place where primary interaction should be between Board members.

How are most Board meeting rooms set up?  You're probably thinking some kind of auditorium style seating where the Board sits in a row at a head table facing chairs lined in rows.  Think about the psychology of that. It invites participation from the audience and gives the impression the Board is reporting to the audience. Further, hinders eye contact and interaction between Board members.

We feel, the best Board meeting room layout is a U or V-shaped table for the Board and audience-style seating for homeowners. With this room setup, no one's back is to the audience, interaction and eye contact is maintained and crossed between Board members ensuring they stay engaged with one another, and it limits the amount of interaction between the Board and the audience. Most City Hall and other Government meeting rooms are set up this way for a reason.

If you have difficulty controlling interaction between the Board and Homeowners, try this type of room setup. Little things can make a big difference!
The Election of Officers vs Directors

There is a common misunderstanding among homeowners, and even Board members, about the difference between being elected to the Board of Directors and being elected to an Officer position.

Of course, your Governing Documents may state otherwise, but an overwhelming majority of Documents state that Directors are elected by the Membership/Homeowners at the Annual Meeting - and then the Board elects each other to the various Officer positions. Typically, these positions are President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. The remaining Board members are usually referred to as "Member(s) at Large." The most common and recommended practice is to hold a brief "Organizational Meeting" following each Annual Meeting to establish these positions among the Board members.

The final point to understand is that Members are elected to the Board for a term that is typically one, two, or three years in duration. Term lengths vary by Governing Documents. Officer position, on the other hand, are typically elected each year.
Sharper Employee News

Sharper Management is pleased to announce Tricia Kneisl has joined the Sharper Management team as Accounting Manager.

Kneisl brings more than ten years of experience in commercial and residential property management accounting to Sharper Management. Her vision for process improvement, creating efficiencies, and her enthusiasm for being part of a positive team environment were some of the key reasons she was chosen for this position.

"Tricia's experience and background are a great benefit to both our clients and the rest of our staff. We have already seen her exceptional leadership skill set bring positive results to our company. We look forward to Tricia growing with our organization for years to come," states Nick Schilling, Partner and Head of Finance.

Sharper Maintenance

Did you know that Sharper has a handyman team available to service any of your home repair/remodel needs?   Our team of highly skilled General Contractors and licensed techs are ready to tackle any project including plumbing, light electrical, drywall, heating/cooling equipment, painting, or any type of general "handyman" job.
Contact Matt Froehlich with questions or to schedule. (952) 224-4777 or
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