Recently, several blog readers have written in to discuss the issue of fellow directors going MIA (missing in action) from their board duties.
One reader mentioned that a director had attended just one of the previous 5 board meetings while another mentioned that a director had only ever attended board meetings telephonically and had never gotten to know her fellow directors in person.
In Florida, attending a board meeting by telephone is equivalent to attending in person. The law was changed some years ago to permit directors to attend meetings in this manner given how jam-packed our lives are these days. However, there is simply no substitute to sitting in the same room with your fellow directors and association members and undertaking the significant work of running a community.
Just as you can't grow a personal relationship by proxy, you can't grow your board and community relationships in absentia. In addition to those directors who show up only by phone, what about those that just don't show up at all? Several blog readers have suggested that those directors should be removed from the board after missing a certain number of consecutive meetings. Currently, Florida law would not permit an association to implement that protocol in the absence of a legislative change. Would it make a difference if a director is missing meetings due to illness?
What about directors who do attend meetings but refuse to contribute or take on tasks and abstain from voting without legitimate reasons to do so? One may question why such individuals ran for the board in the first place but the fact remains that you are stuck with them until the next election if you cannot convince them to either (a) become a real, participating member of the board or (b) resign and allow someone else who will contribute to take their place.
If one of these MIA directors is also an officer, your board can vote to remove that person as an officer but not as a director. Perhaps it would not be the worst thing if each board put a blurb on one of the association's communication channels (newsletter, website, mailing, etc.) that let potential board candidates know what would be expected of them if they win the election. Perhaps a listing of the number of meetings, the length of those meetings and the tasks that are regularly assigned to each member of the board would help wannabe directors decide if they are made of the right stuff.
Unlike the role of some modern-day monarchs, serving on a board means you are expected to actually do something and not just take on a title.