Build Workplace Culture

Columinate: Who We Are

At Columinate, we are catalysts for common good. Our consultants share strategies, tools, and skills to help purpose-driven organizations build and empower community. From the city to the suburbs and beyond, co-ops are both the foundation and the backbone of strong communities. Our role is to illuminate solutions to guide these organizations forward. Founded in 1994, Columinate works with mission-driven organizations on their most [...]

Hiring a General Manager

Updated in 2017-18, this manual is the result of a collaboration between Columinate and National Co+op Grocers. It guides boards of directors of food cooperatives through the steps needed to ensure a clear and professional process, resulting in the hiring of a well-qualified manager. Those steps are: Arrange for interim management Set up a committee to coordinate the hiring process (the Search Committee) Define [...]

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely at the Top

When I became general manager of Outpost Natural Foods in 1986, I had already been working at the co-op for seven years doing ordering, receiving, merchandising, marketing, managing, and assisting the general manager (GM) with board work. So naturally that made me the prime candidate for the GM job, since I was already skilled in operations, right? I sure had hoped the answer to [...]

Nurturing Inclusion and Diversity on Staff

Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op Silver Spring, MD Year founded: 1981 Number of members: 10,000 Member investment: $100 Number of employees: 48 Retail square feet: 4,600 The Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op (TPSS) in Takoma Park, Maryland is a cooperative that is known for its diversity and inclusion among staff and customers. Currently, 48 employees from 20 countries work at the food co-op. Amongst [...]

Training for soft skills

Yes, you can teach empathy, rapport and authenticity to your staff. Even those who join your staff with a high degree of these “soft skills” can still improve them through training. Brittany Baird is my colleague at CDS Consulting Co-op whose area of expertise lies in linking financial success to the everyday decisions we make on the sales floor of a natural foods business. [...]

Collaborative Interviewing

A growing body of research shows that cognitive biases creep into everyone’s decisions, even if we consciously strive to be fair. One of the most insidious forms is “confirmation bias,” in which people look for data that confirm their opinion and ignore data that contradict it. Confirmation bias has a detrimental impact on hiring decisions, causing us to rush to snap judgments without realizing [...]

Hiring For Success

James Morrell has over 25 years experience in natural foods retail management. Over those years he’s done a lot of hiring. I’ve written about hiring in this column before, but for a fresh perspective I turned to James, now a consultant in fresh category management.   What do you look for when you’re hiring? The resume and past experience are a starting point but [...]

Ensuring Internal and External Pay Equity

Many co-ops using policy governance have an Ends policy requiring staff compensation that is both internally and externally equitable. However without diligent attention, pay scales and what individual staff end up making can get out of whack over time. Below are a few tips to keep you in compliance. Compensation market study. Make sure you are staying up-to-date on what the external market is [...]

What HR Systems Audits Reveal

When I conduct human resources (HR) systems audits for clients, as part of the audit process I identify problems with personnel records and documentation, and recommend improvements. Here are some of the most common problems I’ve found: Insecurely stored records of former employees Most companies in my experience do a good job of keeping records secure for current employees. I find personnel files, payroll [...]

Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation

According to Gallup News State of the Workforce report in 2017, overall only 30% of employees feel engaged at their jobs. This dismal statistic is a strong invitation for employers in all business sectors to consider the type of work culture that might contribute to a sense of disaffection and actively work to change it. Employees who do feel a sense of connection are [...]