6 Tips to Successfully Onboard New Board Members

Laughing group of diverse condominium board members going over paperwork together during a meeting around a table in an office.

When a new board member is elected or appointed to the board, it can be tempting to have them start making decisions right away without ever allowing them time to fully acclimate to their new role.  This approach can lead new board members to make decisions without having a full picture of the issues facing your condominium.  To establish continuity between board transitions, directors should aim to establish an onboarding framework that is both replicable and scalable.

Here are six tips to help your board establish a successful onboarding framework.

Take a Collaborative Approach to Developing Your Framework

Your onboarding framework should be developed using a collaborative approach that considers a variety of perspectives.  Meet with current board members to establish specifics on the mission and values of your board.  What will a new board member be trying to achieve when joining your board?  What is your board trying to accomplish during the current fiscal year?  Consult with current board members to learn what knowledge and information would have been helpful to them when first joining the board.

Determine Who is Responsible for Onboarding New Board Members

A single member of the board should be assigned to coordinate and prepare onboarding activities.   The member assigned to this role should have a clear understanding of building operations, pending projects and the corporation’s policies and procedures.  If your community utilizes the services of a property management company, you may wish to assign this role to your property manager.  Your property manager will be able to compile the information and documentation necessary to get new board members up to speed quickly.  Having one team member responsible for onboarding will also provide new directors a key point of contact should they have any questions or concerns regarding the resources provided.

Collect and Organize Onboarding Components

The role of a condominium director is a volunteer position, and as such, new board members may have varying professional backgrounds and understanding of condominium governance.  It is essential that new directors are provided with the resources and tools necessary to have a full understanding of their role, duties, and responsibilities.  Providing new board members with the appropriate information will help them produce meaningful contributions to your board and ensure the condominium is well governed. 

When compiling resources to assist a new board member, boards should aim to provide general information on condominium governance, as well as specific information that relates to the operations of their community.  Compiling this information into a resource manual will make it easy for new board members access this information and refer to it at a later date.  If you have partnered with an ACMO 2000 certified management firm, your property manager will be able to provide new directors with a manual consisting of custom-tailored tools and resources based on the needs of your community.  

Create Opportunities for Mentorship

New board members can benefit greatly from the experience and knowledge of senior directors.  Connect new board members with directors who have maintained board positions prior to the appointment or election of a new director.  Their understanding of your community’s history and building operations will serve as a valuable resource for new board members.  Mentorship opportunities can be informal or formalized through a structured program, depending on the needs of your communityProviding mentorship opportunities to newly elected or appointed board directors provides new members with an opportunity to ask questions and learn from the experience of more seasoned members within your board. 

Establish Committees

Community committees provide an excellent resource to bridge information gaps during board transitions.  Establishing committees will provide the board of directors with an extra set of hands to attend to building projects and events that require substantial planning.  Committee members hold a wealth of knowledge regarding pending projects and events, that will benefit new board members as they gain insight on the inner workings of your community.  When a new director joins the board, have them meet with committee members to learn more about committee mandates and pending projects taking place within your condominium.  Establishing these relationships early on will provide new directors with another avenue to learn about pending projects and make better decisions about them. 

Optimize Your Onboarding Process

Continuing to seek feedback on your onboarding process will help the board evaluate and improve the onboarding experience for new board members.  After three months of service, meet with new directors to get their opinion on the onboarding process.  Areas of improvement may emerge from this exchange and can be addressed accordingly.  What content do new board members find valuable?  What did they find most challenging?  Can new board members speak confidently on the mission, values and goals of the board?  What would they suggest to improve the onboarding experience for new board members?  These conversations will help you pinpoint areas of your onboarding process that could use improvement and streamline future board transitions. 

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