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Onboarding Yourself as a New Board Member

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4 Minute Read
Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on May 18, 2022 9:38:00 AM



Congratulations, you've just been elected as a member of your community association board. You are now a representative of your community and responsible for ensuring things run well and fairly for all residents and that the association meets all of its (many!) obligations. 

What will you bring to the community? How quickly can you master this new role, and how can you help the community? What positive changes can you make, or what cool neighborhood traditions can you revitalize?

Of course, the first step is to learn the ropes. If you've never been on an association board  before, now is your chance to see behind the curtain.  How you onboard will depend on what you'll be expecting to do - and what you're motivated to do.

No doubt your fellow board members will provide the documents and walkthrough to help you get up to speed. Your community management team may have a course or a few pointers. But ultimately, it's up to you to get onboarded and grow into your role as a new board member. 

Keep reading to learn some helpful tips for starting your journey as a new board member. 

Become an Expert

Read the documents. Have conversations, even study like you used to study for school. The better you know the CC&Rs, by-laws, and standard operating procedures, the better you can apply that knowledge in your role on the board. 

You want to feel confident answering questions off the cuff when homeowners ask about policies or wish to run something by you. 

Determine Your Duties

Figure out your exact duties and responsibilities as a board member. Get the routine down and discover what it takes to excel at those tasks. You may also have duties that overlap with other board members in rotation or simultaneously. 

Learn By Doing

Once you know your duties, you can start working on mastering them. Get the routine down, learn the standard operating procedure, and understand how the community runs. 

Learn by shadowing senior board members and by getting hands-on in your new role.

Many people learn better by watching and doing a new job than by hearing it described, so don't be shy about taking tours, watching others, and diving right in. Master one task at a time or take on the whole schedule at once, depending on your style and learning curve.

Get Involved in the Event Calendar

There are three areas of concern for most community associations: maintenance, resident interactions, and events.

Event planning is one of the more fun ways to get involved. You get to throw parties, host charity drives, and organize activities. Study the current community event calendar and get involved in making it happen. 

Reach Out For Help When You Need It

Finally, know when to ask a question or reach out for advice. Senior board members and your community management team can help get your feet under you as a new board member. Many boards offer mentorship to new members. 

Management teams may offer an onboarding program. But when you run into something you're not sure about, it's always better to ask than to guess. So let yourself be mentored while you learn the ropes.

Becoming a new association board member is an exciting time. Once you have mastered the basics, you can move on to becoming one of the best board members your community has ever seen. 

You’re Ready to Make a Difference!

Joining your community association’s board can be a fun and exciting experience. By following the tips we’ve shared, you can feel more comfortable as you move into your new role.

If you’d like some additional resources on community association boards, check out our article on board member best practices

Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Over 30 years experience in property and community association management Professional Community Association Manager through the Community Association Institute (CAI) Former GM/CEO of a large-scale association: mixed-use commercial, residential and recreational Contributor to National industry experience