Board members are supposed to work together to represent residents and owners in housing and lifestyle matters. However, sometimes, despite how things are supposed to be, board members can still find themselves uncomfortably at odds.
The truth is when you bring people together, from different walks of life, disagreements can and do happen. Nevertheless, board members must listen to each other and work together at all times.
Despite this fact, some relationships can devolve so severely that they become strained to a breaking point. When that happens, there are specific steps you can take that will, hopefully, heal the divide. Here are our tips on how to heal a strained relationship among board members.
Before we get into how to resolve board member conflict, it is first essential to understand various disputes. There are four dispute types that we will be looking at today. They are:
One Against One
Are there two people on your board who can’t seem to get along or make peace on any issue? If this is what you’re facing, you have a one against one dispute on your hands.
All Against One
If everyone has a problem with one person on the board, you are all against one person. The fact that you are reading and identifying with this issue means that you want a more robust and healthy board (and that is a good thing).
When board members split up their loyalties into groups within the board (of say three people each), you have a clique clash.
When the president of your board and the vice president are fighting, it is a big issue. The president and vice president are supposed to be an example for the rest of the board, and when they are not, it can be tricky to figure out what to do.
If The Issue Is a One Against One Battle
In cases where you have two board members at odds, the first attack plan is to figure out the source. Perhaps, the two at odds come from entirely different walks of life, have opposing values, and can’t seem to meet in the middle about any board decision. Is it deeper than disagreements and the differences in costs? Chances are it is.
Your president and vice president must get to the bottom of this conflict. However, when they investigate the matter further, it is essential to do so fairly and impartially. Ask questions individually, and then set up a meeting with the two in conflict and seek a middle ground.
Key point: Do not take any sides, and ensure that both voices get heard.
If Your Entire Board Is Against One
In cases where the entire board is collectively against one board member, you have to ask yourself, who is the problem? Observe the disparity, and carefully consider what is at play. It is also critical that board members avoid secret meetings where you exclude that individual. Doing so might sever the relationship and cause all kinds of problems.
When everyone is against one person, and it is so severe that everyone wants them out, it would be wise to bring in a conflict resolution expert who can help solve the issue. A conflict resolution expert can get to the bottom of this issue impartially, and that is what you need in a case like this.
If you Have a Clique Clash on Your Hands
A clique clash can be challenging, and it becomes a huge issue when you need to agree about a decision. Anytime you have clusters of people whispering together, it can get tricky to work together collectively.
The solution to this issue is for your president and vice president to call a gathering, where the various cliques can see about finding common ground. If that fails to work, call in a conflict resolution expert to help figure it out.
If the issue is Between The Board President and Vice President
If leadership within the board is the problem, you need an impartial expert to get to the conflict’s root. When and if the board tries to solve the problem on their own, there would be a massive power struggle and possibly nothing would get done.
A conflict resolution expert comes in and tells you like it is. A conflict expert will be honest with you. They will help you meet in the middle.
In all cases
- Address The Conflict Openly
The best thing you can do when conflict comes to light is to address it openly. No matter how small the issue may seem to be, it can quickly balloon out of control if you let it. As a board, you have to be functional, so any conflict must go.
- Put Conflict Resolution Systems in Place
If you did bring in a conflict resolution expert, they probably gave you specific tips that you can apply to conflict resolution in your board from now on. Doing this is critical: as great as it is to bring in an expert to solve your problem, it is also essential to learn how to communicate and connect with your board going forward.
One common misunderstanding about conflict resolution is that you should sweep the conflict under the rug (because addressing conflict will only blow up in your face). The opposite is true. When a dispute comes to light, you must manage it head-on to avoid turning it into something you have an impossible time trying to fix.)
Another misunderstanding in conflict resolution is that you can secretly meet with the people involved individually, and not mention it. You never want to meet with one and not the other privately, nor do you want to conceal meetings. If you choose to do so, you risk the effectiveness of your board. Playing favourites (or appearing to do so) can severely damage relationships.
In all cases of conflict, the key is to find the smoothest road to healthy communication. Open and honest communication is the key to resolving conflict, but sometimes it is OK to ask for help. Bringing in an impartial party will not only make everyone feel heard, but it will also get to the root of the issue, and thereby the solution.
Let Us Help You
Behind every great board is healthy communication. If you want to learn about how you can better communicate with your owners and residents, and encourage trust and openness in your community, contact us today! We would love to show you how MaxTV Communication Systems can be of service to you.