Build Workplace Culture

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 [...]

Leading Our Co-ops Beyond Customer Service to Cooperative Service

By Brittany Baird, Rebecca Torpie 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 As food co-ops forge ahead in the “the new normal,” they often find themselves in the precarious place of trying to both differentiate from and conform to competitors. From the consistent progression of conventional grocery stores towards natural products offerings, to the growing threat of internet retailers, food co-ops are experiencing an increasingly urgent pressure to raise the [...]

Choosing Your Words

By Carolee Colter & Mark Mulcahy Intentions matter but so does your choice of words. Certain words can trigger a negative reaction in the mind of the receiver while other words can open up hearts and minds. In general, negative language is demanding and blaming, and emphasizes what can’t be done. Positive language on the other hand focuses on the future, offers choices and [...]

Why Do Marketing and Operations Clash?

Back when I worked in distribution, the warehousers complained that marketing promised too much to the customer, while marketing grumbled that the warehouse always said no. It’s the same in retail. When conducting employee surveys I often hear comments from grocery or wellness like, “Marketing is trying to run everything but we’re the ones who actually talk with the customers,” and comments from marketing like, “We’re [...]

Safety Training That Works

An Interview with Paul Feiner As a Loss Prevention Certified (LPC) professional, Paul Feiner works full time as Store Support Manager at Sacramento Natural Foods in Sacramento, CA.  On the side, he and his brother Michael manage a consulting business that helps small businesses develop proactive loss prevention programs to mitigate loss and maximize safety and security. Recently I interviewed Paul about safety training [...]

Responding to Workplace Conflicts

Whenever people work together, conflicts will naturally arise. Here’s a framework to help leaders resolve conflicts. This article will describe three categories of conflicts and a process that can be used to resolve each. _______________________________________________________________ Allegations of management misconduct If employees believe a manager has committed unethical and/or illegal acts, (e.g. theft, harassment), they need to inform the GM, or if the GM is [...]

Whistleblower Policy for Employee Handbook

If you observe what you believe to be wrongful conduct, you have the right and the duty to report it without fear of retaliation. Definition of wrongful conduct Wrongful conduct includes serious improprieties that potentially impact the integrity and effective operation of Your Co-op. Examples of wrongful conduct include, but are not limited to: Violations of federal, state or municipal law Sexual harassment or [...]

Excellent Staff Communication—the Pillar of Change Management

Now more than ever, co-ops must adapt to market forces and make changes to survive and thrive in the marketplace. So much change can be hard on staff members, especially if some staff feel those changes are moving the co-op in a direction that could be perceived as less cooperative or more “corporate”. Exceptional communication strategies are key to keeping staff members informed and [...]

Growing Leaders from Within

By Melanie Reid 186 Sept-Oct 2016 As co-ops evolve and expand and our industry continuously changes, it’s important that we have mechanisms in place that enable employees to see career pathways within our organizations. Opportunities to learn new things and grow within the organization are important for everyone on the co-op staff roster. If their training ends after 90 days, you probably have some [...]