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Homeowner association boards are elected to handle HOA business. Some do it better than others because of training and natural ability. While good business practices are fundamental to getting the job done right, "people" practices are equally important.

And even though HOA elections are not typically barraged with candidates, the membership does care what the board does. When the board doesn't do it right, some members simmer at a slow boil, some bellow a great hue and cry and others beat the tar and feather drums. The picture isn't pretty for otherwise well intentioned directors.

A truly effective and perceptive board understands the need to keep business transparent. Think of board business in terms of living in a "glass house" and exposed to scrutiny by the general membership. This is difficult for some directors to deal with since it seems cumbersome and intrusive. In reality, running business transparently is largely symbolic. Doing business this way usually reduces scrutiny. When practiced, the suspicion of what's going on behind closed doors subsides. Here are a few of the most important glass house management practices:

Board meetings are open to members and held in guest friendly venues, locations and times.
Members are allowed to express dissenting opinions and question board actions.
The board responds respectfully to dissenters.
The HOA has a website which stores need-to-know HOA information (See HOA Websites section for recommended components).
Meeting minutes are distributed in draft form within one week of the meeting.
New owners receive welcome packets with "need to know" information.
Newsletters are distributed at least quarterly.
All rules and policies are written and easily available.
Rules are few and truly necessary. Each one includes the reason for enactment, a reasonable penalty and right of appeal.
Board policies that affect lifestyle and ownership responsibilities are circulated to owners for comment prior to enactment.

Using these glass house practices demonstrates that the board operates in the open and respects members and their opinions. Communicating that attitude will keep most members satisfied that the board is doing a good job. Failure to provide these kind of services results in suspicion and hassles that the board doesn't need.

Another benefit of glass house management is that it gets the board organized and prepared to do business. With good communication and management systems in place, crisis management becomes a thing of the past. As the board becomes more proactive. the directors feel more personally rewarded. Getting things done attracts achievers. Success begets success. Happy members mean a harmonious community. When it comes to HOA business, keep it transparent.

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