It’s a common enough occurrence: Jane, who has served on your co-op’s board of directors since the Hoover Administration, makes a surprise announcement at the monthly meeting: she’s selling her apartment and retiring to Florida. This does not upset you much–Jane is something of a busybody–until you realize that she will have to be replaced.
There is an heir apparent: John, the tax attorney in 7B is elected. He’s a good man–equitable, intelligent, and trustworthy. But how will you get him up to speed? What duties can you reasonably expect him to perform? How can he possibly understand the dynamics of a group that’s been together so long? Is there a way he can better prepare himself for the task? In times of transition, it’s the responsibility of the sitting board members to do all they can to acclimate a new member to the group while keeping the building running smoothly.
Do Your Duty
The responsibilities of board members are broad and varied. The job description often includes overseeing the budget, liaising with the management company, interviewing potential owners and tenants, paying bills, supervising superintendents, and making sure the flowerbeds tended. Given the breadth and depth of their new job, board members should be brought along slowly–not thrown into the deep end of the pool all at once.
"More often than not, new board members are not given ‘officers positions’," says Donald Levy, director of management for Lawrence Properties in Manhattan. "They [just] function as board members, so they can get used to the dynamics and see how the relationships between the shareholders and managers work."