Remember your first day at a new school? Most likely, you didn’t know a soul, had no idea what the students were learning and you probably felt nervous, intimidated or maybe even afraid. In most cases, this is what it’s like to be a new board member. A newcomer walks into a meeting for the first time, may or may not know a fellow neighbor volunteer, has no idea what is or has been discussed and might feel nervous, intimidated or even afraid. Getting elected to a building's board is a big job and the members can also find themselves unsure of what they've gotten themselves into.
The Buddy System
To help a new student calm their jitters and get them up to speed to the others, a teacher will often appoint a current student to show the newbie around, share books, introduce him or her to other students and give them the lay of the land. It’s a great concept to follow when new members come on board.
“I am an advocate of having a more experienced board member mentor a new board member,” says Greg Carlson, RAM, NYARM, founder and president of Carlson Realty, Inc., and the executive director of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives & Condominiums (FNYHC). “The one on one works great.”
It’s during this one-on-one time that the newcomer can review the current issues at hand in the building. “An incoming new board member should also be given a kit, which contains all of the essential documents and resolutions including a set of bylaws, house rules, policies the co-op board has adopted, subletting policies, etc.,” says Eric M. Goidel, a senior partner at the law firm of Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, P.C., a law firm in Manhattan. “Even though they may have gotten these documents as a shareholder when they moved in, maybe they aren’t aware that those versions are no longer relevant
In addition to reviewing the documents, the veterans can also give the rookies a working knowledge of the building, its occupants, problems and needs. “They should know the condition of the building and what repairs and maintenance items are necessary,” says Richard Herzbach, an attorney and partner at Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP in East Meadow, who recommends that the new kids on the block review past minutes of meetings.