It feels like the coronavirus won’t ever go away. It’s like that gnat flying around your head. You wave it away, but it comes right back. You move ten (or six) feet, but it follows you. You try to swat it, but its too elusive. Why won’t it just go away?
Although the coronavirus upended our lives more than six months ago, the U.S. is about to enter a third wave of new cases. We've adapted with masks and hand sanitizer. We social distance. We work and go to school at home. But these changes can be tiresome, and according to a recent report, “Pandemic fatigue has clearly set in for large segments of the population.”
Homeowners, board members, and management personnel in HOAs are not immune to the effects of pandemic fatigue. Board members have been particularly burdened, adjusting to new and changing government regulations while implementing community-specific guidelines. Further, many HOAs have postponed elections for safety reasons. This means that board members are serving longer and in more difficult conditions than usual, and some board members are choosing not to come back for another term.
Board Member Fatigue
Studies have looked at workplace fatigue for years and describe it as “tiredness or even exhaustion, an aversion to continue with the present activity, and a decrease in the level of commitment to the task at hand.” Is this happening to you or your board members? Management fatigue can have a variety of symptoms but generally includes a sense of weariness or exhaustion from the duties of the position. Here are a few signs that fatigue is affecting your board.
When you are feeling management fatigue, completing tasks or projects becomes very difficult. Have you noticed a lack of response to needed repairs? Have planned improvements been unnecessarily postponed or ignored? A board that lacks interest in its job will fail to properly manage the work in and around the community.
Lack of Communication
One of the first things that tends to be affected by management fatigue is communication. Delayed responses to phone calls and emails, fewer and fewer community announcements, and failure to update websites can signal fatigue. Communication is critical for a well-functioning board and HOA community, so a lack of communication is a red flag that should be addressed right away.
One of the benefits of an HOA is the commitment to an agreed-upon set of rules and regulations. But if no one is enforcing those rules, homeowner tension can arise. Why should I keep my grass at a certain length when my neighbors have let theirs grow out all summer without any repercussions? Boards should stay on top of these covenants and restrictions, in part because they are expressions of fairness within the community.
Sometimes the biggest change is an overall sense of apathy. A board member may seem run-down or withdrawn when their personality is normally cheerful and energetic. These basic changes in a board member’s behavior can be indicative of many things, but one of those things might be exhaustion from pandemic or management fatigue.
Bolstering Your Team
If members choose not to return to their positions (or worse, resign), finding new board members may be difficult. A keen eye on active recruitment is the key. Some communities seek out people already in positions of power, such as well-known professionals, to run for a board position. While those individuals may have skills that have aided their success, it is important to be open to all members of your community. Why? Well, community members that are already tasked with stressful and time-consuming jobs are less likely to be invested in another stressful and time-consuming commitment. Second, tapping into a new source of energy can reinvigorate the rest of the board. With diversity comes new ideas, perspectives, and solutions. Finally, pulling someone new can invigorate new parts of the community that may not have been active before.
So what kind of qualities do you look for in a board member or manager? Here is a short list to get you started:
A person of integrity
An honest, fair-minded individual is critical for leadership of others.
A great communicator
Knowing what to say and knowing how to say it are two different skills. Someone with patience and empathy can make a big difference. Check out a recent article on maxhoa.com about improving empathy.
The big picture is important, but you can’t get there as a board if you don’t have people who pay attention to the steps along the way.
A team player
It’s impossible to be the most effective board if each member is in it for themselves. The goal is to put the community before the individual member and develop the most effective working environment for the group.
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, and HOA board members are no exception. While management fatigue is real, finding new voices in your community to run for those positions can keep your HOA functioning at its best.