Explore how a unified HOA strategy bridges board member differences. Dive into vision, mission, and community growth. Embrace a united HOA community!
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In this episode, we delve deep into the intricacies of setting a unified HOA strategy. The foundation of any thriving Homeowners' Association is its vision and mission. Yet, with diverse board members bringing different perspectives, aligning everyone can be a challenge. Our discussion explores how to bridge these differences and why it’s imperative to have a common goal. Listen as we shed light on the importance of understanding the community's needs, crafting a mission that resonates with every homeowner, and fostering an environment for community growth. We'll also touch upon practical tips for communication and collaboration among board members. Whether you're a new board member trying to find your footing or a seasoned member aiming for renewal, this episode offers invaluable insights. Dive in to unlock the keys to building and embracing a united community, and how a well-crafted strategy can drive positive change.
Chapters from today's episode: Set Your HOA Strategy!
00:00 HOAs can’t succeed while they’re sinking
02:04 How to address tension in your HOA board
04:46 How to Adopt a HOA Mission & Vision
06:18 Why You Need a HOA Vision & Mission
10:49 The Rogue HOA Board Member
11:25 What You’re For VS What You’re Against
13:05 How Mission Statements Affect Your Actions
15:36 Kevin Davis Insurance
16:20 How Vision Leads to Policy & Functions
20:20 Resolve HOA Conflict Like This
23:09 The Mindset You Need to Solve HOA Issues
26:00 When You Can Change Your Mission
27:44 Unity Brings Success to Your HOA
28:58 Resources for your HOA
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So you can't have a healthy association if you're, if you're if you're sinking down on the other side, and that's going to cost you every amount of your reserves. Maybe it's the right thing to litigate, maybe it's not the right thing, but the statements don't change and the statements in their place in that decision-making is the same as it would be if you're deciding whether or not to contract out, you know, the, the landscape or to you know, you had let's say, you have in-house valet or concierge and it's, it's the same thing, well, maybe we should contract them out. What fits our, what's gonna fit our statements better? What's going to fit our mission better? And then you move forward, whether it's a big decision or smaller decisions, it's all the same. HOA Insights Common Sense for Common Areas exists to help all 2 million volunteer board members nationwide have the right information at the right time to make the right decisions for their future. This podcast is sponsored by four companiesthat care about board members:
association insights and marketplace, association reserves, community financials, and Kevin Davis Insurance Services. You'll find links to their websites and social media in the show notes. Hi, I'm Robert Nordlund of Association Reserves. And I'm Julie Adaman of Adamen Inc. And this is Common Sense for Common Areas. Well, this is episode number 21 with regular co-host Julie Adamen. And before we get started on today's topic, I want to make sure you caught episode number 20, which was a great discussion with Dave Lynn of Lynn Wealth Management. Dave's a community association reserve investment specialist, and this conversation was a real eye opener about the safe and secure possibilities of getting way more interest than you're likely getting in a normal savings account. But back to today's episode. Last time we spoke with Julie in Episode 17. We spoke about the role of the board and manager laying out the basics of how those two can work together, effectively and efficiently. And after we were done recording, we started talking about the board priorities. So that led to today's conversation about having a mission and vision statement to guide your association. Now, we regularly ask for your input on what we discuss and so we're going to start out today with a question asked by Fred from South Carolina, who wrote "how do we address tension between two factions in our board? We are regularly three versus two or four versus one, because we see the community and its needs differently." Well, that's a question for today. And just as a reminder, if you have a question, a story, or a topic you'd like to have us address in a future podcast, please call us at 805-203-3130 or email us at email@example.com. And of course, remember to subscribe to this podcast to make sure that you catch every episode that comes up. So Julie, can you work in an answer to a Fred's question as you dive into our discussion today on mission and vision? Well, I certainly can and that's a good thing. Fred, first, I want to let you know, and all the rest of you board members out there, Fred, you're not the lone ranger. This is a really, really common three to two, five, you know, four to one that's very, very common. Now, what I keyed in on with what you said was we view the community very differently. So certain board members view it one way, other board members view it another, maybe even a third board member views it differently. So the way this fits into our discussion on mission, or I'm gonna say vision first, vision and mission statements, is that what happens in community associations is that the board, board members come in with varying agendas or things they want to get done because you're disparate people. It's certainly a natural thing, right. But a board must have a common sense of purpose. And an a and a common sense of goals and common things they're trying to achieve. And one of the best ways to get there in my experience of low these 35 years in the industry is for a board to work together on putting together vision and mission statements actually core values as well. We may not end up getting to that in the subject because we're only here for about a half hour. Robert and I could go on and on in case you guys haven't noticed that if we could we will forever we will do this again. Yeah, well we'll be back again. It's I'm telling you, we just geek out on this HOA stuff. We both been in it so long and it's just so it's so it's endlessly fascinating to us. So anyway, so that's, that's what I recommend boards do it, they adopt those vision and mission statements. And there's two things that happen. Well, there's more than two things that happen with but but you know, the process of doing that adoption of those statements, how the board has to work together, and I recommend a facilitator that's another part of the subject, is probably half of the battle. Because board members, even though you may have known each other for years, you don't really necessarily know each other all that well. And especially if you've had some animosity, and you're not particularly friendly, but just sit on the board together. If you go through through the process of developing those vision and mission statements, you might learn things about the other board members that you didn't know. And it's kind of like baring your soul at some point of a therapy session for board members. So you get down to what people really think is important, and what are the things you agree on. So it's just a fascinating process, one I highly recommend, I think the keyword there was 'what unites us,' I think we have people coming not only different homeowners, but the different board members coming onto the board. Maybe they came onto the board, because they wanted to make a change. They wanted to make a difference. Most of them do. That's right. But that's most of them. Yeah. Yeah. And but you have to make sure that you're not dividing the community. It's that issue of what unites us? Who are we? So is that what the process of breaking down the three verses two, four verses one, you start talking "Okay, what are we here for? What was the bigger picture?" and focusing on that bigger picture. Well, it's yes, because the so let's talk a little bit to get to that bigger picture of what the vision and the mission are. Because I think a lot of people think that, you know, well, we're just a small Association, or why does a homeowner's association or condo association need something like that? Well, if you think back to if you are now retired, or if you're still, if you're working, you're working for a company, most organizations have vision and mission statements, and there's an actual reason for it. And it's a good reason. So what is the vision statement? I'm going to go there first. So the vision is what you as a board see in the future for your community where you want to be where you want to get to. And the mission statement is the roadmap to get there, if that makes any sense to you. And let me I've got one right here. This is a real short one, I worked at the community few years ago, and we did vision, mission, I did the you know, I did the strategic planning for them, et cetera. But we did all this. And boy, it was a slog, it was like giving birth with those people, but they came out and they were very, they were very disparate group of people in a separate of them did not get along with each other. But by the time we walked out of that two or three days we worked on this, they were, you know, as I told Robert earlier, you know, they maybe weren't all the same pew, but they were all in the same church. And that's was kind of a goal to get there. So this this community's was ends up just a single sentence, their vision is "Our community, a progressive united community, providing the best value lifestyle, in the greater Palm Springs area." And so that's their vision. That's what they wanted to be. But their mission to the so that's the roadmap to get there was the mission of our community is "to advance the value of an inclusive lifestyle resort experience for our residents and guests through quality amenities and activities." There are mission statements and vision statements, that can be a paragraph long, I mean, some are very long, I'm a fan of the shorter ones. And though this may not sound super sexy to everybody, but boy, is it clear, it's very clear on where that Association wants to be, and how they want to get there. And that, if utilized, as it should be utilized by any community, their mission and vision statement, that is how a board can better come together better unite for the betterment of the community as a whole through those platforms on which to stand and to base policy and base decisions. So if we get off in the weeds somewhere, and it's like, well, wait a minute, "is this really in our mission statement? Is that part of our vision?" Yes? Okay, we're gonna go, no? let's let's back off a little bit and see if we need to spin our wheels doing something maybe we shouldn't be doing. So it's a really effective tool. Yeah, that may be well, I'm starting to my brain is spinning here guiding the Association on the "What ifs? Why shouldn't we?" and "are we going to open the clubhouse for political forums? Are we going to open the pool to the local swim team? Are we going to have a city wide or original wide picnic in our park?" If you if you don't know what you're all about, then maybe start thinking, Well, "where did we go? What is our future?" But with that vision statement, and I wrote down in my words, North Star, "where are we going? Where are we trying to be exactly" that helps us realize that no, we are not going to be the political center of our city. That's not what we're about. We are about x we are not about y. And then what I heard you say with mission is the roadmap to get there. The how, and in my mind, that almost sounds like checkboxes. This is what we do. We do A we do B we do C we do D and we do them well. Is that fair? Pretty much? Yeah. I mean it and you there may be ABCD, there may be E, F and G that also fit within that general framework. But I really liked what you said, Robert, about the political thing. That's a really, that's because it's always a hot topic, especially right now. Right? So is it within like this mission statement I just read you all? I mean, would it be within their mission statement to provide a spot well, let's just say for the whole regional area to hold a political event or hold a political something rather, in their clubhouse? Well, my heavens, no, it's not. It says residents and guests, it doesn't say the community at large. Right. And that would be a way to go back to that and say and say, "No, we don't do that." And, by the way, folks, I mean, I know this never happens. But sometimes you have a rogue board member in your midst, you know, the guy who's all off in the weeds are out the crab nebula somewhere, a good way often to bring them back in is to kind of point that out, he'd be the guy who said, "No, we're gonna have a big political rally." And you're like, "No, we say, guests, and residents, not the community at large." Again, it's a platform for action, and also a restraint for non action. I mean, and it's a reason to give you non action in certain areas. So I guess no action is an action sometimes. Right? But but that's what these do for you. pet peeves is people being known more for what they're against One of my than what they are for, I think we want to be known what we're good at, we want to be known for and use that phrase I got sensitive to "we don't do that at our association." Another way to say that, and going back to the communication conversation we had last time or a couple times ago, "this is what we're known this, what we're known for, our association is known for this, therefore, yeah, let's not go down that rabbit hole." But it is that guiding line that helps them know, we're all about this active senior community, or active young families or whatever, pet lovers community, whatever it is, you can, this is a great place to state what you are known for, that can help guide your association forward down that path that the team that is continuing in your sweet spot. And hey, don't hold it to yourselves board members. Once you do this, you make sure you want to publish this out to the community. And if you do that, and you could look, whatever your newsletter, definitely have it on your website, but your newsletter, eblasts, whatever goes out, it's always a good thing to have those statements on the bottom of it so people are continually refreshed. And even when you are notifying folks about well, the board has made X decision. Not necessarily the minutes, but maybe in a newsletter, here's the major decisions that were made, sometimes you may want a reference "in keeping with our mission statement, this is what we've decided is a yes or no" or whatever. I mean, just it's it's going to be incumbent upon the board to keep that in the minds of the owners, and keep it in the minds of yourselves. Many, many times you can all imagine this is what happens because our industry, we're so emergency oriented, you know, boom, something happens and kind of deal with that. And I'm exhausted about dealing with that. And hey, I'm a volunteer, I'm already spending hours, but it's incumbent upon you incumbents, it's incumbent upon you, to refresh yourself and your own mind with your vision and mission and not just let those fall by the wayside as a year goes by or two years goes by. In fact, Robert posed question to me earlier about how often should the board review those vision and mission statements and I'm going to tell you yearly, I mean the board as a whole review those as a part of board orientation after every annual meeting. Now some of you may have been elected a few times, but you're definitely going to have one or two newbies in there. And you want to go back and see the one we did on orientation and strategic planning of that type of thing. But it's it's a terrific tool and also a great thing to give them this is how we, this is our basis for action. This is our basis this is our reason for being, the you know these statements are a reason for being and how we want to be the best we can be and when you bring people into that, don't forget all these people new board members even you more seasoned board members or as I prefer to call it classic classic board members but I'm one myself so they want to be a part of something positive and moving forward I mean we've talked about it many times but in our industry I don't think you can't say it enough because in our industry we are so we can be so no oriented no parking, no pets, no this no that, as opposed to pets go here and don't forget, parking takes place at this time. And your parking spot is here and if you have any questions please give us a call, not just "No!" It's a good way to remind ourselves of what really again unites us and and that those are uniting statements. Right to facilitate our pet friendly community, please remember to pick up after your dog or whatever, exactly. This is what we're all about. We are a pet friendly community. So it's not just "we don't do that" it is something that guides us that reinforces why we came here in the first place. I find it actually, the more you're talking about refreshing, because the board is not wondering what in a billion things do we do here? It's more, okay, we are heading in this direction. And we're when we continue to head in our area of strength, then we're going to have success. Hi, I'm Kevin Davis, the president of Kevin Davis insurance services, our experienced team of underwriters will help you when you get that declination, we provide the voice of reason someone who will stand by you, our underwriters bring years of knowledge to our clients that can't be automated by technology, or driven by price. As a proud Amwin's company, we bring true value to your community association clients. We are your Community Association insurance experts. So it effectively puts boundaries, although more what it does is stressing strengths and guiding principles. But I've heard you say a bunch of things, policy, function, ideas. Tell me how the vision then gets to policy and then connect the dots for me and then gets to function. Okay, well, let's think of these statements as not only as in the positive. So this is where we want to go vision is where we want to go. So that's the big idea. That's the big idea, right? And the mission is how we get there. So that is the roadmap, that's the function of how we get to the vision, right? Two things, think of those both of those statements as kind of bumpers. So you know, the bumpers, if you kind of be might bump up against them, and oh, no, we don't do that you come up against the other one. And, and they also help new board members, you know, hone their thinking on it. But also they are for positive action on the part of the board. And what I say is that and that's part of connecting those dots. So the top dot is the vision, the next dot down is how we get there. And then you have all these things that happen in a community association, day to day, month to month, week to week, year to year. And it's a never ending cycle, as all of you board members and you managers out there who are listening. No, it's it never ends, there's decision after decision after decision. Now, some are very simple. We're going to approve the minutes or we're going to prove the financial statements. Others are not so simple, and I'm not talking about things like you know, contract decisions. Some of those aren't simple, but those are regular things that an association does. But then when you start looking at issues that crop up, that are big issues, I mean, big issues, shall we go into construction defect litigation, you know, do we need to, you know, file suit against this building next door, because what they've been doing in their underground is now undermining our high rise is now undermining us and we're starting to sink? Looking at you San Francisco, out there. But that's I mean, these are, those are enormous decisions to make. Yet yet, the statements still connect those dots together. So you can't have a healthy Association if you're, if you're if you're sinking down on the other side. And that's going to cost you every amount of your reserves, maybe it's the right thing to litigate, maybe it's not the right thing, obviously, I'm simplifying something that that's very complicated, you would need to speak to legal counsel, and this takes those kinds of things take often years years to resolve, but the statements don't change and the statements in their place in that decision making is the same as it would be if you're deciding whether or not to contract out, you know, the the landscape or to you know, you had let's say you have in-house valet or concierge and it's it's the same thing, well, maybe we should contract them out what fits our what's gonna fit our statements better, what's going to fit our mission better? And then you move forward, whether it's a big decision or smaller decisions. It's all the same. Yeah. Well, when you were talking it just made me think of one that came across my mind, as reserve study provider, we touch the financials of things. And there was a a woman who lost her husband who owned a pool contracting business. And she was obviously just traumatized and had gotten behind a couple of months in her homeowner assessments and reached out to us what do I do? And I put her in touch with the management company with a note that "Hey, she just lost her husband, can you give her some grace?" And this would be while those minutia for the association but big for this one homeowner. If your vision says that we are a welcoming, and inclusive association where people can thrive, even just a statement like that might make them think okay, let's get this one homeowner a little bit of extra grace on this because that's who we are, that extra clause, because that's who we are, might help clarify the uncertainties. And, you know, this is money, money is right and wrong, we have a policy. But that guiding vision statement of who we, who we aspire to be here. And you know, Robert what I the image I liked that you said was that it's our North Star. And that's really what it is, you know, it's so many communities and all of you out there listening, you know, whether you've managed whether you've the been board or whatever, you've know, communities that are really well run and then you know, communities that just kind of flounder around because they just don't know what they're supposed to do. And then the factions start fighting and board member factors start fighting, and you kind of just stop, I mean, he just all of a sudden the board and the community ends up in stasis or, or in amber, you know they just boom, they're frozen. And that's those things can be devastating to a community, you know, reserves don't get funded, or things don't get repaired as they should be getting repaired. And as those things start falling by the wayside, the homeowners get more and more unhappy, the board is more under attack, the more under attack they are, the more they don't want to talk. I mean, it's just a, it's a downhill cycle. And and I'm not saying that a vision and mission is going to fix that I'm saying that's just another tool in your toolbox. Because if you're sailing on a sailboat in the middle of a ship in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden you've lost your radar, you've lost everything you have and you still actually know how to read the night sky, you know where the North Star is. And if you know where that is, you can figure out where you're going. And so you be like, Oh, I don't know what we should do. But let's look to what are what we're supposed to be doing. And all of those kinds of tools for you can really make your job a lot easier. Couple of thoughts. One is to when you know where you're going, you have momentum. And when you start stalling because you start wondering and worrying and having conflict, then that just invites more conflict, because then you have boards that say that I want to go to the right, another board says I want to go to the left or forward and back when you don't have momentum. So that momentum kind of brings peace with it. And the other side of it is that unifying factor. And again, I come back to how can we help the board members and the managers listening to this podcast. And I think about this unifying concept of this is who we are. This is us as a community. It's not me as homeowner, or unit number 17. It's I'm a member of this community. And this is what we are and that magic word is the "we" that the board can help move the we forward, and I'm a part of the we. And this whole thing is bigger than me. I'm unit number 17. And, you know, good for you. But that whole understanding that this is one of those unifying concepts that you're not just unit 17 at this address, you are part of the association and we have this guiding idea that draws us forward. And I well I really like that. I like it a lot, too. And you know, there's something that struck me when we're talking about this, and we chatted a little bit before we started the podcast is you know, I think that for board members and committee members, definitely, I think, what would be really helpful, especially after COVID, which you all may have noticed people are a little psycho right now. They're just kind of coming out of that fog of what it was like at our two different camps. No matter which camp you were in, we're definitely in two different camps, we still are in a lot of ways, but you know, and that's gonna bleed over into everything, board members, all of that. But I think if all of us who serve in a volunteer position, I mean, the operative word being volunteer, I mean, nobody put a gun to your head and said you have to do this, you volunteered. And if you're going to do that, you have to switch your thinking to a service mindset. "How can I help?" Not "what am I gonna get for me? What am I gonna get for my faction? You know, I'm only going to be about the people who want the petunias pink and not about the people who want the petunias multicolored, and they're bad evil, and I'm good" iIf you if you take a service mindset, and how can I help attitude, If you really do that those other things go away because they are dichotomous they will not ever that that twine will never meet ever. And so think more about having a service mindset, in fact, actually part of a mission statement and having a service mindset could be in there. If that's what your association is about. Yep. And actually, that reminds me in preparation for this conversation trying to be ready for you leading this conversation for it. I just Googled, I think it was condo mission and vision or HOA mission and vision. I got so many samples there that I felt like, Yeah. wow, there's a lot of associations that are guided. And I would bet that the ones that you see around in your neighborhood in your community if you're a portfolio manager listening, the associations that are a smoother running, they know what they're all about, and they have something like this. And it would, I would imagine they even have it, maybe even as a footer to their newsletter, or as end paragraph in their monthly meeting notes, where they remind everyone, this is what we're about. This is why we make the above decisions. This is what guides us as we move forward as we consider our pool here in the summertime. Because dada, dada dada, we're going to jump right on it. And we're gonna get this thing done now. And it's one of those, again, unifying ideas and philosophies that keeps the association. Julie I think in your word, stalling. Stalling is not a good thing. Keep it keep it from stalling. It keeps those keeps it from stalling. Yeah, keep it from stalling. Yes. Or in stasis, I said "in stasis" you got to get out of this, you got to keep moving forward. Yeah. And then if you are then referring to it regularly, then that can probably do what you said earlier, referencing it. And when it begins to change, or when your community is starting to change, whether it's demographics, or the economy or the environment, if whatever it is, then maybe you need to adjust that if there's a big shopping center that opens up next door or if the community is aging, whatever those may be the telltales that it's time to tweak a few words, it is, tweak a few phrase again, does that is that fair? To know when to start making changes? Yeah, they're not in cement. I mean, so once you adopt your vision and mission, if you want to tweak it, you know, maybe, hey, in five years, a whole new board is gonna come in, or you know, you'll have complete turnover and lots of associations. So if they want to change it a little bit, that's up to them, I don't recommend changing hugely, unless it's a really big event, because people are used to that, as long as if it's being used, as you said, like at the bottom of the minutes, or if it's being used, you know, as a footer on the newsletter, whatever it is, but I really think that a board is an entity is its own living, breathing thing, just like the association is kind of, but it's they it's okay for them to change it. So I know communities sometimes go well, I don't want to do we don't want to adopt a vision statement or mission statement, cuz it's just going to change. Well yeah everything changes. I mean, so it's, that's okay. But give yourselves a path forward with that Northstar, don't just be, you know, circling around the Indian Ocean looking for the North Star, you want to be able to look. Right, where was I? Oh, that was north. Okay. Yeah, I'm a woman I actually know where north is it's strange. And I can park a car. Yeah, well, we started this podcast, because you want to encourage and equip board members we want to help them have success at their communities, have peace at their communities, have what we're talking about here is having an idea about what the future looks like, and giving them a tool to get there, a path, that idea of what the future looks like the vision and the steps to get there. The mission statement, that path to can we see a safe and successful future one where the association is thriving, the the members are thriving, the people understand what's going on and there's more unity between the board and the members because they're on the same page. Yes, exactly. It hopefully, I mean, you're always going to have the people who are off the reservation, we know that. But for the most part, this is all to bring people together under a common banner, a common umbrella. That's that's what we're looking to do. Fantastic. Well, I'm looking at the time here, we did not touch on core values. There's a lot more we can do. But I'm sure that well, that's why you're gonna get us back in a few weeks. Well, that's this is all fantastic stuff Julie, thank you very much. It's always great talking to you, live, in person on the podcast. And we hope you learned something today from our discussion that helps bring common sense to your common areas. If you want some more information about vision and mission Julie's prepared some resources for you. They are available in the show notes. You can find those show notes at www.commonareas.org. And if you have a topic you'd like to have us address, a story to share or questions you'd like to have us answer please call 805-203-3130 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org And remember to subscribe to the podcast to make sure you catch all future episodes. And we look forward to having you join us for another great episode next week. You've been listening to HOA Insights, Common Sense for Common Areas. You can listen to the show on our podcast website, hoainsights.org, or subscribe on any of the most popular podcast platforms. You can also watch the show on our YouTube channel. Check the show notes for helpful links. If you liked the show, and want to support the work we do, you can do so in a number of ways. The most important thing you can do is to engage in the conversation, email your questions or voice memos to podcast@reserve study.com Or leave us a voicemail at 805-203-3130. 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