Sunday, July 29, 2012

Passing the Baton: Tips on Getting the Next Generation of Community Association Leaders Involved

This is the final blog in my three-part series on how to cultivate new leaders in your community association.

Perhaps you're tired of seeing the same old faces sitting up at the front of the room at board and membership meetings. Maybe you own one of those faces and are tired of being up there, waiting for reinforcements to come in. We all recognize that an infusion of new energy, ideas and talent can stimulate any organization whether it's a business, a sports team or even a community association. The real question is: How do you attract that new talent?

If we are talking about a business or a sports team, the answer is easy: recruit them with a lucrative offer. That is not an option for community associations seeking to get new talent on their boards so communities must be a little more creative when trying to get folks involved.

The first step is to speak to the next generation in a manner that appeals to them. If your board is looking to pass the baton, you should be making your roles look attractive to that busy mom or energetic new owner. First, are you reaching out to them in a medium that is most likely to catch their attention?  Newsletters are great but busy folks aren't as likely to read those as they are to read an email or a text message. The communities that are most successful currently at attracting new members to their non-paying, often thankless board slots are those that actually connect with their audience. They use mass texts, group emails, sophisticated websites and even Social Media sites to let their members know what they are doing and to encourage them to get involved. Community social events are another effective way to communicate. I was recruited to serve on my board at a community social event. Those spring and fall luncheons and seasonal events can go a long way towards creating a sense of excitement about serving on the board.

What is another idea to get someone interested in taking over your seat on the board? How about looking at your current board from a bystander's perspective to see how much you'd be inclined to join your own group? Are your meetings pleasant? Are they held at times that are convenient and managed in an effective, respectful manner? Do your board members seem to be enjoying themselves at these meetings, happy to tell those gathered about what they are doing and why? Does the board create initiatives and opportunitiees that enhance the quality of life and make an outsider eager to join in and contribute to those ideas?

Do your residents feel a sense of camraderie when they look at your board interact or the exact opposite? If your board is miserable, what is the likelihood that a talented person would want to join in the misery?

A director with true leadership skills is not often on the receiving end of a recall petition but it does occasionally happen. A leader will gracefully depart when the recall is in order rather than fighting the inevitable. This may not be your preferred method of passing the baton but if the community has spoken, you should listen.

Lastly, it is important to remember that when seeking new talent for your board, you are asking people to serve and give. Most people are more likely to give when they have already received. If your board has put in time and effort for years and the positive community results are evident, your job in convincing others to serve will be much easier.

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