The HOA board is responsible for governing the association and making decisions regarding how it operates. Homeowners trust that board members are doing what is in the best interest of the entire community, not just themselves. They trust that board members are acting fairly and ethically.
But what happens when one HOA board member dominates and tries to pressure others into doing what they want? Unfortunately, bullying in the HOA can happen. The person may engage in aggressive, demeaning, or deceptive behavior to get their way. It is up to the entire board to keep one another in check and handle any issues of bullying immediately to prevent one person from exploiting their authority.
How to Handle Bullying on Your HOA Board
There are a number of specific steps that the board president and fellow board members can do to eliminate abusive behavior, and to prevent HOA bullies from taking over the board meetings. Of course, as you consider ways to take action within your HOA, one thing you will want to consider is bringing in a property manager who can assist with governance issues.
More on that in a minute; for now, consider these basic steps for preventing HOA bullies:
1) Stay Calm
The first thing to remember is to stay calm and not let your emotions get the best of you. Even if you are angry, hurt, upset, or frustrated, lashing out can make things worse. Bullies often thrive on getting a rise out of others, and this fuels their behavior. Remain level-headed and professional.
2) Talk It Out
Have a private discussion between the board and the member in question. The person may not be aware of what they are doing or how it is affecting the rest of the board. Remind everyone of the code of ethics and expected behaviors. (All of this should be outlined clearly in homeowners association by-laws and covenants.) Discuss effective ways of communicating and working together. Bringing in a mediator can also be helpful to facilitate a more productive conversation and work through challenges. This is an area where a property manager can be really valuable. After all, you don’t want the person doing the bullying to feel as though they are being attacked, but you do want to encourage them to change their behavior.
3) Stay Neutral
When collaborating on decisions, focus on the facts rather than opinions. Bullies often sway others by pushing their ideas and beliefs. Back up your suggestions with research, data, statistics, and examples. Ask thoughtful questions to reach practical solutions. It is harder for a bully to argue with facts, and it helps other members to look at issues from a logical and rational perspective rather than one driven by unsupported claims. It is not up to one person to make decisions – the entire board votes.
4) Remove the Person
If trying to work through problems and get the bully to see other perspectives isn’t effective, it may be time to take more drastic steps. Check the governing documents to see what policies are in place when it comes to removing a board member from their position. When one person is dominating discussions and intimidating others, it makes it difficult for the rest of the board members to fulfill their duties and do what is best for the association. Voting a bully off the board may be the best option for regaining order and improving how the HOA operates.
5) Enlist an HOA Management Company
Ultimately, the integrity of your entire community depends on everyone on the board working somewhat harmoniously, from the homeowners association president down through each individual board member. Do not allow abusive members to drive the ship and do not let a board president rule with an iron fist. Instead, enlist a professional management team that can assist you in enforcing rules, running smooth and effective meetings, and mediating disputes or personality conflicts as they arise. A good property manager can also provide direct coaching to your president, ensuring that this individual has the basic leadership competencies needed to cultivate a healthy culture within the HOA board.
Find Out More By Contacting Kuester Management Group
Work with our HOA management company to put proper policies and procedures in place, improve training and education of board members, and build a stronger sense of community and collaboration. Ensure that your president and all board members are on the same page and committed to a truly unified association board. Don’t let bullies bring your organization down or cause progress to come to a grinding halt. Contact Kuester today to learn more about how we can help, specifically by bringing in a professional, on-site manager to guide your HOA governance.
It is our pleasure to work with thriving communities throughout North and South Carolina. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help.