Manager Selection

Selecting the manager is one of the most critical task for the board of directors. The success of the cooperative depends more on the manager than any other individual. The manager directs the day-to-day operations.

The organizing committee begins the task of manager selection by developing a position description. A supplemental statement should indicate the relationship and responsibilities of a manager and the board of directors in a cooperative.

Long and varied lists have been compiled of qualities to seek in a manager, but three areas are suggested-education, experience, and ability to work with people. Manager candidates need to be judged in these areas from three perspectives-commodity expertise, business requirements generally, and knowledge of cooperatives in particular because of their unique characteristics.

Finding a manager with both education and experience with cooperatives is important for several reasons. Unlike investor-owned corporations, a cooperative manager should not participate in cooperative ownership. Career decisions could conflict with ownership interests. Cooperatives do not offer managers stock options or profit sharing, although some cooperatives have incentive plans. The candidate needs to understand the special nature of the cooperative’s patrons because they’re both customers and owners. This dual relationship adds a unique dimension to a candidate’s requirements to work with people on a daily business basis.

Good managers are hard to find, especially for cooperatives. The best source is often other cooperatives. Leads may be obtained by contacting the managers of other cooperatives, directors of State cooperative councils, national cooperative organizations, the advisers who helped form the cooperative, and employment agencies.

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