Five Best Practices for Improving Condo Board Communication
Funny, isn’t it, how geese manage to communicate with each other well enough to prevent mid-air collisions, but people often overlook this task. It is easy to forgive directors because they are volunteers and find it difficult to find time to write newsletters, answer emails, or update the condo’s website in addition to the rest of their responsibilities. When the Condo Information Centre compiled all the comments they received from over 4500 condo owners regarding condo living, 49% of them complained about the lack of communication from their boards.
Directors serving on the best condo boards make communications a priority and have internalized the philosophy that good governance includes communicating effectively. These boards know that openness and transparency come from good communication practices.
So how to accomplish this task? Here are five simple ways to introduce a culture of transparency and clear communication in your condo:
Make all condo records available
To start, make it a standard operating procedure to provide owners with all the condo’s records. Obviously, some information is confidential and cannot be shared – such as personal information about owners, contract or tender details – but, with at least a basic understanding of privacy rules and principles, boards can share information without breaching confidentiality.
When it comes to minutes, it is often only the AGM minutes that are circulated to owners. There is no reason why the minutes of the monthly board meetings can’t be shared as soon as they are approved. Take a quick look to make sure that no confidential information is included and then get them to owners.
The next challenge is how to share these records.
Going digital is the only way in today’s age of technological innovation to share documents effectively and inexpensively. No one has time anymore to sift through boxes of paper files to find a report. In any case, computers can organize and retrieve information faster than a human ever will. You can make this sharing easier by setting up a basic website where owners can view documents. Even easier is to use software like BoardSpace to upload and sort condo information for you – all owners have to do is sign in and find the information right in front of them.
Set up a bulletin board or e-board
Find a central location for your bulletin board or e-board. It is easier for high-rise condos, but townhouse complexes can usually find a common area where owners and tenants can go to find up-to-date information (look near the mailboxes). Message boards are also a fantastic way to post late-minute reminders about things like maintenance issues or an upcoming AGM.
Publish a condo newsletter
A newsletter is a good way to keep in touch with owners. These do not have to be comprehensive or done frequently – an effective newsletter is usually short and only needs to be released consistently – I’ve seen excellent newsletters that are released once a quarter or even only once or twice a year. As newsletters can be time-consuming to prepare, it can be effective for a condo board to organize a newsletter committee made up of owners who volunteer to be responsible for preparing them instead of trying to do all the work themselves.
Newsletters can be done through email or in traditional hardcopy – I recommend a digital version as it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly. There are easy-to-use technology solutions available to help get this job done.
Educate at every opportunity
Condo governance is complicated and difficult to understand. It can be a challenge for owners to understand fully what condo ownership means — one of the best ways to help them understand is to provide educational opportunities whenever possible. Try sharing short informational videos on the condo website or inviting a speaker to your AGMs. Owners need to be proactive too: if you are an owner and want to know more about a particular topic, ask for it, or better still, volunteer to find out and share with other owners via the newsletter, website, or at an AGM.
By implementing these five best practices for improving condo board communication, you can promote a culture of transparency and openness that supports a great community.