Board meetings provide the time and space for co-op and condo leaders to establish and direct building operations. "Every board has its own distinct group personality," observes Howard Schechter, a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Schechter Brucker, PC, "and it’s important to fit the format of the meeting to the personality of the group." For example, some boards are very effective in the most informal of settings, and can meet in someone’s apartment and make decisions over coffee and cake. Others may need a more rigid structure, such as a meeting room within the building or at management’s offices, to stay focused. "The most successful boards are those in which the members put their personal feelings aside and treat each other with respect even if they disagree," says Schechter. To make sure your meetings are on the productive side of the coin, keeping them running smoothly and efficiently, it is important that the board follow certain guidelines.
Why Meet at All?
The first thing board members have to understand is why the board exists at all, advises Schechter. "It is the purpose of a board of directors or managers to set policy for their building, and to direct the professional management they have engaged to run the building, and that’s what they should be doing during their meetings."
Schechter’s advice is well taken in light of the fact that some board members mistakenly use board meeting time to air their own personal grievances or to talk about matters that are not relevant to the issues of the moment. By understanding and remembering the purpose of the board and why it has assembled, its members can assume the appropriate attitude to conduct business and get home at a reasonable hour.
"Most bylaws require a certain number of meetings annually, but there’s usually nothing that says they have to be monthly," explains Ron Gold, a partner with Wagner, Davis & Gold, PC, a Manhattan-based law firm. "But there are typically concerns that need the board’s regular attention, and properties that meet less than monthly usually have problems keeping control." According to most bylaws, boards that need to meet more than monthly can call special meetings on two days’ notice delivered to participants in person, by mail, or by telegram.