Dirk Peterson, Board President

Hello Just Food Owners! With the departure of Pat Neily as the General Manager, the Board of Directors has started the search for the next person to lead our Co-op into the future. We need to find the right person to ensure healthy food is available for our members by supporting farmers in our local foodshed, ensure the Co-op is an employer of choice, work towards sustainability in all of our actions, and provide education opportunities about healthy lifestyles.

After hiring Sherri Meyers as our Interim General Manager, the Board established a budget and likely timeline, identified necessary consultants, and named the Search Committee. I am chairing the Search Committee, which also includes board members Penny Hillemann (Vice-President) and Doug Hiza (past President), Jay Johnson (owner) and Sara Payne (Co-op employee and Human Resources Manager). The Board voted unanimously to implement these actions. The Board is also using “Hiring a General Manager: A Toolbox for Co-op Boards of Directors” by Carolee Colter as guidance in the hiring process.

The Board wants input from the staff about this critical hire. The “Toolbox” advises Boards to include an employee on the search committee to ensure staff perspectives are present in discussions. We asked Sara Payne to be on the committee because in addition to providing a broad staff perspective, she also brings her professional skill set as Human Resources Manager and associated commitment to confidentiality, which is a critical factor from the perspective of any candidate seeking the job.

We also asked all Just Food staff and Board members to complete a survey about what should be the “Necessary and Preferred” qualifications of our next GM. This was a list of over 35 qualities including topics like previous retail experience, supervising staff, commitment to cooperative values, computer literacy, ability to communicate clearly, and strategic planning. Staff was reminded three times of the opportunity to take the survey and was allowed work time to complete the task. The Board was gratified with a very high response rate from staff. With 58 employees working at the store, 36 filled out the survey, yielding a 62% response rate.

The “Qualifications” survey is an important step in building the job description for the GM job posting. Because the Board and employees took the survey, we were interested in what differences may exist between the two groups. We were pleased to find broad consistency between the groups, and where there were some differences, they were not great and may minimally influence the job description.

The next steps in finding the next General Manager will include finalizing the job description based on the survey results, posting the job, screening the candidates, interviewing finalists, and introducing the finalists to staff. We will keep owners and staff updated of our progress on the Just Food website, in the ComPost and in other ways over the next few months…