We are living in times where many people are experiencing a desire for change, to start anew, to recreate their lives and identify passions. The Great Resignation is a term coined because of the thousands of people who are taking a deep look into their lives and considering their future, compelling them to change their professional course among other things in their lives. We have seen the affects of this in our communities, with homeowners emerging and wishing to step up and into leadership roles in their communities.
What we have seen is rapid and drastic changes from the status quo with new “blood” stepping on the board and introducing new ideas. Along with these new faces and ideas comes a great deal of change. We often find that the Board Members who have served for many years may feel a sense of loss or defensiveness by these fresh faces and ideas. Similarly, we often hear from new board members that they sometimes discredit the accomplishments or the direction of the established board members.
So we ask, which group is right? The answer is, neither! As we look around, we can all agree that the world around us is rapidly evolving. Change is inevitable, and whether we are people who fundamentally embrace change or resist it, resisting change is no longer a possibility in today’s world. At the same time, history, stability and consistency are such important attributes that are often overlooked.
As people, our childhood and young adulthood experiences often shape who we are as adults. These experiences play a part in how we react to situations, what emotions are evoked, and what we perceive to be the truth. While many people work hard to erase limiting beliefs or childhood wounds, the fact is that many of our beliefs and ways of thinking are helpful. Similarly, maintaining community history and collaborating with those that came before us is invaluable.
The key is to focus on positive communication and reinforcement of ideas. It’s clear that many people have vastly different opinions and ideas. But when we are tasked with making collective decisions, respectful dialogue and listening is critical to serve in such settings. Here are some tangible exercises and phrases that can assist in creating a collaborative and cohesive environment.
- “I really appreciate all that you have done for the community over the years and recognize your knowledge and experience!”
- “I really appreciate all the new ideas you being to the group and am excited to work with you in uncovering new possibilities.”
- “Thank you for your input. I never considered it that way!”
- “You really think differently than me, and I appreciate that your perspective helps me see things in a new way.”
- “I see why you may think that and respect your approach. I would love to share my thoughts as well.”
- “Two heads are better than one!”
- Establish a President or meeting chair who is neutral and diplomatic.
- Set up Strategic Planning meetings immediately after your annual elections. Plan on discussing community goals and collectively deciding on your top 3-5. Remember, majority rules! When board members sign up to serve, a majority of board members must be in favor. It’s important to remember that each person’s ideas will not always be in the majority, but this is how this works!
- Engage in some form of team building! I’m my organization, or when serving as President of CAI-GLAC, I make it a point to create a setting for the group to get together and break bread and have fun. This is a very personal experience, and it is incredibly important to get to know one another. Nowadays, we have become very distanced through computers and digital media. Face to face connection and communication is diminishing and also creating situations where people are dehumanized to one another. We will often have more patience and compassion when we understand each other’s backgrounds.
The times are changing, and the changes in our communities and our boards is an adjustment for everyone! Despite these challenges, I encourage EVERYONE, myself included, to always keep an open mind and look for the positives while maintaining a respectful and collaborative dialogue.