By Beth Mulcahy, Esq.
Unfortunately, board meeting conflict is becoming a common question that our law firm receives.
First, it is important to establish that name calling, interrupting and personal attacks should be prohibited at all board and committee meetings.
Sometimes, the conflict is between Board Members themselves. Board Member to Board Member Conflict will bring the association board meeting productivity to a halt, so all board members should work to prevent and properly address conflicts.
Set forth below are some steps to limit potential board member conflict1:
- Give all board members an opportunity to contribute with equal time;
- Consider enacting regulations, such as discussion time limits;
- Allow follow up discussion on a topic after all board members have been given the opportunity to speak;
- Educate new board members on board processes and outstanding issues;
- Encourage mentoring of new board members.
Other times, the conflict at a meeting is caused by a difficult owner or owners. Difficult owners can be very outspoken regarding their view of the management of the association. The “Gadfly” is an expert at criticizing, cajoling and pinpointing the errors of others. S/he demands change, constantly interrupts, attacks personal integrity and alleges conflicts of interest.
How to deal with the “Gadfly”:
- Establish and announce meeting procedures at the beginning of a board meet-ing, in a newsletter or in the meeting notice;
- Enforce established meeting procedures uniformly;
- Host a homeowner forum at the beginning of the board meeting with a strict time limit;
- Establish control. No one should be allowed to interrupt board meetings by speaking out of turn and raising irrelevant issues;
- Respond in a modulated, non-argumentative voice. Do not respond with anger, argue or trade insults. The board does not have to rebut the comments of any member;
- Utilize parliamentary control — by knowing when and how to a) table a motion; b) postpone a motion; c) refer a matter to a committee; d) adopt special rules of
I am hopeful that the strategies in this article will help your association have more peaceful and productive meetings!
1Information taken from Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C. Cheat Sheet, Board Meetings©