4 Ways HOA Board Members Can Improve Communication & Become Better Listeners
One of the biggest challenges HOA board members face is communication. From hosting meetings to balancing budgets, board members have so much on their plates, and it’s common for communication to fall to the back burner!
However, strong communication is crucial to a strong community. As a leader, residents look to you for guidance and support. You’re expected to be attentive, address needs promptly, and prove you’re acting in the best interest of the community. Here are four ways board members can improve their HOA communication and listening skills today.
1. Be available and practice active listening.
Listening and being present benefit people emotionally, physically, and internally in their relationships. This especially goes for HOA board members, managers, and residents who collaborate often. If you’re not present and listening, you’re not communicating.
Whether your presence comes in the form of a phone call, text, email, or in-person conversation, it’s imperative to be communicative and responsive. Always acknowledge resident messages and get back to them promptly.When you aren’t available, and residents aren’t aware of what’s happening in the community, they may lose trust in you and your leadership. Here are four active listening tips that can enhance HOA board member communication and listening skills:
● Be present in meetings and only leave early if necessary.
● Engage in conversations and be open to questions and feedback.
● Avoid multitasking and focus on one issue or topic at a time.
● Create a relaxed environment so others feel comfortable around you.
2. Give residents a chance to speak up.
Many homeowners admit they don’t feel heard when discussing concerns with their board. This is an issue because being heard conveys that someone’s feelings and opinions mean something. When boards don’t listen, homeowners may feel their HOA doesn’t have their best interest at heart.
Give residents an opportunity to speak up by allocating dedicated time during each HOA meeting. This will allow residents to address topics and important issues in a professional and timely manner. Consider doing the following to create a sense of proactivity, transparency, and acknowledgment for all parties during meetings:
Make a meeting agenda.
To adequately prepare for every meeting, make an agenda and distribute it to community members at least one or two days prior. This establishes expectations and allows residents and other members to formulate questions in advance.
Give each person a set time to speak.
Everyone should have an equal chance to discuss what’s on their mind. This designated time frame will show residents that you and other HOA board members are there to listen to their concerns.
Agree on how to bring up talking points.
Consider handing out a talking point guide or template so residents know how to bring up a topic of concern. For example, the guide could look something like this:
Example: Person 1 (10 mins):
· Topic of discussion:_____________
· Why is this topic or issue important to you?: _____________
· Provide an example:_________________
· What is your expected outcome?:_____________
· How can this help the HOA community?: _______________
Once you go through the meeting agenda, the board should share the next steps of the decision-making process and a projected time frame. Although it may be difficult to address each issue, the board should provide a follow-up at the next meeting or connect individually with each person.
3. Prioritize transparency.
In a recent study conducted by TownSq, management company executives, property managers, and boards were asked to share their struggles and expectations for 2023. Communication was rated as one of the top struggles for community managers.
Maintaining transparency is one of the most successful ways any board can increase communication and engagement within their community. The more people know, the better off everyone will be. However, with the vast number of responsibilities each HOA board member has, it can be challenging to keep communication and transparency streamlined.
Here’s what you can focus on to improve transparency:
● Effective communication – Actively listening, providing constructive feedback, and practicing empathy are great ways to communicate effectively. When you exercise effective communication, you execute an equal exchange of ideas, thoughts, and information.
● Honesty - If you exercise transparency, you must exercise honesty. No one likes a hidden agenda, especially when problems arise out of nowhere. Communicating honestly will create a stronger sense of trust and engagement for all involved.
4. Use modern technology.
Another way boards can maximize communication is by leveraging technology. Such solutions are ideal for sharing information, keeping residents updated with the latest community news, and so much more. For example, HOA software like TownSq’s Assignment tool works as a digital source of communication between the board and the community.
This tool lets board members and property managers create assignments and tasks and make them visible to all homeowners. Plus, it provides a thorough progress report of large projects happening within the community, such as designing a new playground or community center. The Assignment tool can also:
● Work as a tracking system between different tasks and projects.
● Send automatic notifications with real-time updates when tasks are completed, assigned, or include comments.
● Facilitate a team-like environment on all ends—between the board, management company, property manager, and the community.
Improved Communication = Becoming a Better Listener.
Effective communication is key to building a prosperous and harmonious community. Any HOA board member can drastically upgrade their communication by following the tips above. This will lead to increased trust, transparency, and cooperation. By creating an environment where community members feel heard and valued, board members can work towards achieving the common goals of a thriving and vibrant community. With open communication, HOA boards can promote unity, foster strong relationships with homeowners, and ultimately encourage a positive and enjoyable living environment for all.
Watch our in-depth tutorial on the TownSq Assignments feature and how it can improve communication in your community!