board-management relationship

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 [...]

Good Governance Makes Community Stronger

Maple City Market Goshen, IN Year founded: 1976 Membership investment: $100 Number of members: 3,000 Number of employees: 25 Recently, Goshen, Indiana was named “Community of the Year” by the state’s Chamber of Commerce. For many years, this northern Indiana town on the border of Michigan held many undiscovered charms. No longer. It’s an increasingly diverse town recognized for its civic pride, hosting many [...]

Using Monitoring Reports to Ensure Organizational Alignment

The Board’s Job Creating board policies is no easy task. Clearly articulating the board’s expectations of a general manager takes a lot of energy and focus—so boards can justifiably congratulate themselves once they’ve written down their expectations in a way that a manager can easily understand. But the board’s work doesn’t end there. Many boards, once they’ve created their policies and learned to empower—rather [...]

Generating Board and GM Efficiency through Monitoring

Medford Food Co-op Medford, OR Year founded: 2011 Member investment: $100 Number of members: 3,200 Number of employees: 35 Retail square footage: 4,300 + 700 off-site café When Anne Carter came to Medford Food Co-op in Medford, Oregon, the startup co-op had been open for two years and was still establishing its operations and governance. Their internal situation was mirrored in the community-at-large. Medford [...]

Skills for Building the Board-General Manager Relationship

There is nothing more fundamental to cooperative governance than the board-GM relationship. After all, the entire leadership of the co-op rests on how the board and the general manager work together in their respective roles, which are unique and non-redundant. The work that the board must do to lead and execute its board duties is not the same work that the general manager must [...]

Understanding the Meaning of “Speaking With One Voice”

By Michael Healy 189 March-April 2017 Boards of directors regularly struggle with the concept of “speaking with one voice”— primarily because the concept has a dual meaning. Within the context of Policy Governance, which many food co-op boards use, the principle of board holism is sometimes described as “speaking with one voice.” However, the same term is also used to describe or prescribe how [...]

Good Reporting: Helping boards understand workplace conditions

By Michael Healy 184 May-June 2016 Co-ops bring to life their member-owners’ common values, and for most co-ops these include a desire for the co-op to be a great workplace. In the event that your co-op’s board of directors hears employees assert that something is amiss in the workplace, how will the board react? One end of the range of options often involves the [...]

Co-op General Manager Success Profile: GM Role Requires Core Competencies

By Carolee Colter, Lauren Olsen, Marilyn Scholl 183 Mar-Apr 2016 It takes a lot to manage a food co-op. Co-op general managers (GMs) are responsible not only for the retail operations but also for budgeting, financial analysis, marketing, information technology, and human resources—functions that are provided by corporate headquarters to managers of chain stores. Co-op GMs, in addition to the demands of the business, [...]

Complaints and Operational Concerns: How Directors Can Respond Effectively

By Michael Healy 182 January-February 2016 As a director, you may notice or hear things about your co-op that may be cause for concern—or are at least worth asking about. How can you respond in a way that honors your sense of responsibility, your board’s clear delegation to the general manager (GM), and your GM’s professional judgment? Here is an approach that opens a [...]

GM Success Profile

Increasingly intense and sustained competition in our market is shifting the landscape in which co-ops operate, putting a premium on certain key competencies and skills in management. At the same time, other factors are making the GM job more complex and demanding, including: pressure on prices and margin, increasing costs of real estate and development, and calls for a living wage at a time [...]