COOPERATIVES | Organizational Engagement …

By Kyle White | May 09, 2018 © Co-operatives First

Part 2Organizational Engagement > In young or smaller co-operatives, organizational engagement is often taken for granted. In this case, there tends to be a core group of individuals dedicated to the co-op willing to put in the effort to ensure its success. Similarly, the reputation or brand is often handled in a fairly willy-nilly way and the personality of the organization’s brand reflects the core individuals involved.

Over time, this situation can create a free-rider problem and burnout within the core group, not to mention brand confusion in the marketplace once key members move on. Planning for the next generation of board members, customers, volunteers or workers is just as integral to the co-op’s survival as a good sales strategy or a case for support. For larger or older co-operatives, it’s is important to ensure the purpose of the business remains to deliver on a promise made to members. Membership engagement is a way of measuring and aligning operations, strategy, marketing and vision with membership feedback and requests without losing out to mission creep. Because, while you can’t please everyone, the point of a co-operative business is still to serve the membership and their interests.

Understand your Value Proposition > Co-ops need to plan for member engagement and ensure they are providing opportunities to engage in ways that make sense. The opportunity to engage in the decision making and ownership of the business, whatever that looks like, is a central component of the value co-ops offer their members. In fact, ownership and influence is often what sets co-operatives apart from its competitors. It’s probably why some folks shop at Co-op stores instead of Sobeys and it’s certainly part of the reason why workers at the London Brewing Co-op don’t apply for jobs at Molson. The key value proposition (the opportunity to own and shape a business, for example) needs to be articulated for members to maintain their organizational engagement. If this support is not maintained, members may lose sight of the co-op’s value and shift their financial and organizational engagement elsewhere. Understand and repeat the promise and value of the business to your membership – over time it will pay dividends. –

© Co-operatives First |


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