Dear Co-op Counselor; HELP!
Our Cooperative board has compatibility issues, our meetings are not productive because of the conflict and difficulties we have getting along with each other. I feel that racial tension and personal prejudice may be an underlying factor. How can we address this issue and eliminate this toxic atmosphere so that we can have productive board meetings.
Signed: Board With Drama
Situations like this occur all too frequently and must be addressed as a top priority to avoid deadlock of the Board and destruction of the Cooperative. The most important thing to bear in mind is that all of the Directors are under a fiduciary duty to put aside whatever baggage they have, and look out for the best interest of the Cooperative’s membership as a whole. Many times it is beneficial to bring in an outside consultant who is trained to assist in helping people realize that they don’t have to love their fellow Board members – they just have to be able to work with them. Concepts like civility are paramount. In fact, tolerating and learning to listen to divergent points of view often create a better group decision in the end.
In addition to using a consultant to conduct a Board retreat focused on creating a decent working environment, please consider the tools that MAHC offers. You may require Board Members to attend our conferences and encourage attendance at a variety of classes designed to deal with these issues. From a legal perspective, we teach classes on fiduciary duties of Directors which encompasses these issues. In our annual legal update
class, we talk about dealing with dysfunctional Boards – the problems and solutions.
A final note: you may want to involve your Cooperative Attorney by having him or her come to Board meetings. First, the Attorney should be asked to speak to the issues and educate the Directors on their individual liability for not abiding by their duties to the Cooperative. Also, we have learned over the years that our presence typically has a positive impact on the atmosphere of the meeting. We will speak up and point out problems as
they occur, and usually this helps the Board develop ways to get rid of the toxic waste.
Signed: Co-op Counselor (CC)
Disclaimer: While we hope this information is helpful in answering some of your questions, please be advised
that the answers provided here are for “general” informational purposes only. This information should not be construed as “legal advice” either to the individual or the Cooperative that they represent, the use of this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship between the user/reader and Mr. Pentiuk or his law firm, Pentiuk,
Couvreur and Kobiljak, P.C.
For specific legal advice and personalized assistance with regard to your particular issue or problem you
should contact a professional cooperative attorney.