This article about strata meetings has been supplied by The LookUpStrata Team.
A few weeks ago, in response to the blog article A Litany of Woes by Michael Teys which I posted on our Facebook page, a member of our site asked the following question:
“So…..what are the solutions to this kind of non-productive meeting? The Chairperson’s role is so important. Why do so many Body Corporates have weak chairpersons? Maybe the law should introduce compulsory training for Chairpersons.”
I posted the question into our Body Corporate Committee Concerns forum & asked for responses. Can I say a very big “thank you” to those people who responded to the question. The result was a list of great ways to avoid conducting unproductive strata meetings.
I have collated the responses from all those who responded to come up with the following fail safe to-do list on ‘How to Conduct Productive Meetings‘.
The ideas in this post have been supplied by the following people/businesses:
- Kelly Borell, Tower Body Corporate
- Pam Lewer, Integra Strata
- Miles Tollan, Teys Lawyers
- John Edds, Body Corporate Rescue
- Blake Hoger, Archers Body Corporate
- Training Notes, Teys Lawyers
Summarising all of the points mentioned in reply to the post, the majority of suggestions seem to fall into four main categories:
- Prepare thoroughly prior to the meeting.
- Be an excellent time manager.
- Structure the meeting well.
- Be sure to have a good chairperson on hand.
Collectively, our contributors came up with the following ways to get the most out of your strata meetings:
1. Prepare thoroughly prior to the meeting
One of the best ways to succeed in having a productive meeting is to be sure to prepare thoroughly prior to the meeting date. A little time well spent before the meeting can make a big difference on the day.
When sending out documentation in preparation for the meeting, be sure to circulate explanatory notes and any supporting documents such as quotes and reports with the agenda. That way, everyone arrives at the meeting prepared & this should help to save time.
A little time well spent before the meeting can make a big difference on the day.
Based on previous meetings, you are probably already aware of who the potential troublemakers are. Miles suggests “doing the dirty work” beforehand by arranging to catch up with them a day or two before the meeting date. It may be a great way to allow them to voice their opinions (privately) and let off a little steam without wasting everyone’s time. With less personalities thrown into the mix, you may even be able to resolve the issue or at least find some common ground.
2. Be an excellent time manager
Most of our contributors agreed that good time management equals a productive meeting. And the first point is, of course – start on time! Do not wait for the latecomers as this will only allow bad habits to form. Before you know it, everyone will think it is OK to arrive 5, 10 or 30! minutes after the official starting time. Encourage people to inform you if they will be a few minutes late, but begin even if it means dealing with the less important issues until everyone is present. Everyone will soon get the message.
Also set a finishing time, and stick to it! Most people agreed that a 2 hour meeting time was the best option. Teys Lawyers even goes as far as to suggest a timetable for the meeting to make sure you are running to schedule & set to get out of there on time. “For example –
- First fifteen minutes – agree additional agenda items (if any), confirm previous minutes and identify outstanding matters from previous meetings.
- Second fifteen minutes – an update from the strata manager on tasks completed and the progress of tasks outstanding.
- One-hour discussion – the main matters requiring decisions at meetings.
- Last half hour – reviewing accounts, budgets and outstanding levies.” (This excerpt has been taken from the blog post Effective Governance for Executive Bodies of Strata Communities: Purposeful meetings.)
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3. Structure the meeting well
This point follows on well from being a good time manager. By far, the most popular suggestion made was – stick to the agenda – even if you needed a script to do it.
Pam suggests establishing strict “house keeping rules” at the beginning of the meeting so everyone knows what is expected. Pam also mentions setting out the agenda to be sure that all of the important matters are attended to first. This point was echoed by a few of our other professionals. Also, no other matters should be discussed until those important issues are dealt with.
How do you reduce the amount of time it takes to get through ‘Business arising from previous minutes’? Kelly explains how they have had great success with an ‘Action sheet’ – “which lists all of the outstanding/pending items from the previous meeting”. Specific issues on the list are allocated to individuals and remain on the list until they are resolved in full.
4. Be sure to have a good chairperson on hand
It may sound straight forward, but Blake reminds everyone how important it is to “have the Chairperson chair the meeting“. The Chair sets the tone for the meeting, so they need to stay in control of the meeting while ensuring everyone has a chance to have their say.
John believes that this can best accomplish by the Chair being an active listener. Repetition of statements about an item should be seen as a positive sign as this clearly indicates that the time has come to make a decision. At this point, the Chair should present the group with an unbiased summary, keep to the facts, lead a resolve of the issue and then move onto the next matter.
Finally, at the end of the meeting, the Chair should thank everyone for taking the time to attend the meeting and for contributing to the discussion. Hopefully these words of thanks, along with the ability to stick to the time limit, will motivate people to attend subsequent strata meetings. Teys Lawyers suggests also encouraging some form of fellowship to encourage the community spirit.
NSW Fair Trading has an informative page on Meetings of the owners corporation. This page also includes an agenda for an AGM.
What other suggestions do you have for productive strata meetings? Please feel free to add to the discussion. Do you agree with the points covered above? Have you tried something similar? Did it work?
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed their thoughts to the post. To read all of the points in full please visit the original discussion: Unproductive Meetings.
Read more about strata meetings:
- NSW: How are successful strata title scheme meetings run?
- Effective Governance for Executive Bodies of Strata Communities: Purposeful meetings