Things are beginning to ramp up in the search for our new General Manager. Now that the profile of required and desirable characteristics has been approved, our recruitment consultant has been able to focus their efforts on finding us the right candidates. The Search Committee hopes to be conducting screening interviews later this month – stay tuned!
In the meantime, we received this piece of feedback on the draft profile, and thought we would share it with you along with our response.
Here’s what we heard:
“How about considering some person who is knowledgeable and financially aware of the food industry, rather than a politically correct person! This is a food Coop primarily, not a political organization.”
Here is how Jerelyn Wilson, your Board President and the Chair of the Search Committee, responded:
I really appreciate that you took the time to read the communications from the Board and then to reply to us. Thanks. Your comment is totally understandable. Let me see if I can offer some background about the Board’s process that will give you confidence that the Board is using a relevant and solid frame for choosing a new GM who will successfully serve our Co-op.
We feel fortunate to be working with a consultant who has supported many different Boards with hiring a new GM for their food co-op. She gave us a set of qualifications that included competencies, skills, key experiences and personal attributes. There were about 50 of them and she asked us to prioritize them. Every single one of them was important! As we wrestled with how to prioritize this long list we had to ask ourselves a number of key questions:
- What are the qualifications, if missing, would make a person fail in leading our Co-op?
- What qualifications, if missing, would be supported by already established and strong processes and/or skill sets within our current team of managers?
- What qualifications, if missing, could be gained through professional development?
- What qualifications are not easily learned and must be inherent in the person already?
In the end, we marked the qualifications that reflected someone who is knowledgeable of the retail food industry and skilled in financial management as “highly desirable.” We marked some of the “softer” or people skills as “required.” It is our belief that an applicant with the most experience in retail grocery and financial expertise would not be successful if they are not able to:
- Effectively facilitate the formation of teams by creating a climate of trust and encouraging information sharing
- Demonstrate respect for others, even when a conflicting opinion is held
- Easily share credit and inspire others by providing appropriate recognition
- Demonstrate curiosity about processes and people, listens to new ideas and alternatives
- Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout and on behalf of the organization
- Make unpopular decisions when needed, and to have difficult discussions with stakeholders.
You mention that we are a “food Coop primarily, not a political organization.” I agree that we are not a political organization. However, we most certainly are a community-minded grocery store with a clear purpose and articulated set of values that are primary in our reason for being. By virtue of being a cooperative we are aligned with the International Cooperative Alliance. Any person we hire to take the helm needs to be ready to steward these values and principles.
Our $23 M business is a retail grocery and there is no doubt that a new GM will be successful only with a full spectrum of skills and abilities. With 140 employees, supporting and strengthening a culture of respect, transparency and team work is key as is fostering a significant role in the larger community.
Again, thanks for the opportunity to address your comment!
Take good care and keep paying attention. We are better for your engagement!
Chair, GM Search Committee
Remember, if you have any comments or questions for the GM Search Committee, please email us at GMSearch@bfc.coop.