Develop Your Talent

GM Success Coaching Program

The General Manager Success (GMS) program provides ongoing support and coaching to help General Managers build knowledge, develop skills, and achieve competencies needed to successfully manage a cooperatively owned food store.

Program Description. The program will begin with a self-assessment of skills, competencies and personal attributes to determine goals and priorities.  Based on the assessment, the GM and the Coach will develop goals and priorities and design structure (develop a plan) for the work. The program includes one day on site and 25 hours of ongoing support which can take the form of training, coaching or consulting depending on the goals and priorities. The program aligns with the GM Success Profile  developed by National Co+op Grocers and CDS Consulting Co-op.

The General Manager Job Challenges. It takes a lot to manage a food co-op. Co-op GMs are responsible not only for the operations of a retail business, but also budgeting, financial analysis, marketing, information technology and human resources—functions that are provided by corporate headquarters to managers of chain stores. In addition to the demands of the business, co-op GMs must lead an association of member-owners, working harmoniously with the elected board of directors to fulfill the co-op’s Ends or mission. A GM makes decisions every day that can cost or save the co-op significant dollars.

Benefits of Investing in the General Manager. An investment in coaching is a way to focus attention on priority activities and key indicators that lead to sound decision making and that investment has the potential to provide a return many times over the cost. A coach provides:

  • Ongoing specialized support for navigating challenges and making decisions for your cooperative.
  • Outside perspective and objective feedback on leadership strategies and performance.
  • Asking insightful and challenging questions in support of continuous process improvement
  • A roadmap to mastery of all the critical areas of GM performance
  • An understanding, confidential and objective ear that GMs do not have access to in their other working relationships. 

Who will benefit?  The program is designed for

  • New GMs from outside the cooperative sector. Get up to speed quickly on working in the cooperative business environment and reduce early mistakes, leading to higher performance and a stronger relationship with your board and staff.
  • Experienced GMs who want to develop and build on their leadership skills. Engage with a rock solid, confidential partner who will help you thrive in the increasingly complex environment in which you operate and improve the effectiveness of your decision making.
  • New GMs who are new to the GM position or moving to a larger co-op. Team up with a master guide to help you navigate the transition and take your success to the next level.  
  • GMs whose co-ops are underperforming and need help turning the corner. Don't go it alone; get expert help in identifying and prioritizing areas for improvement and staying focused.
  • Individuals who want to build skills to be prepared for a GM position. Prepare yourself to be a viable candidate for a GM position by learning and practicing the skills you will need now. 

Sponsors. A GM may engage in the program him or herself or a Board may wish to provide/require this support for their GM. If the Board sponsors participation in the program, the coaching contract will specify the direct relationship with the GM as the client as well as the type of information that will be provided to the sponsoring Board so they may receive feedback on that support.

Fees. A variety of coaching packages are available to best meet your needs depending on the duration and frequency of support.

  • Quick Start: For new GMs and Interim GMs, we offer the Quick Start option to accelerate support getting to the GM early in their tenure.  This option includes 6 hours over 1-3 months for a fee of $900.
  • Small Package: Offsite coaching support includes 18 hours of coaching for $2,500.
  • Full Package: For 6-12 months depending on the frequency of support desired. Includes 25 hours of coaching plus a 1-day site visit (including prep and travel time) for $7,500. Travel expenses are in addition and are invoiced at cost.
  • Site Visit: A one-day site visit can be added to any package for $3500 plus travel expenses (includes prep and travel time). Goals for on-site work will be determined with the GM and can include management team facilitation, retail assessment, strategic and business planning, or systems review.  

Read more about the GM Success Program in our monthly newsletter, Solutions.  

For more information, contact:

Jeanie Wells
CDS Consulting Co-op
(785) 766-8454

Associated Consultants

Art Sherwood

Board Leadership Development, Strategy and GM/CEO Coaching

Carolee Colter

Employee Surveys, Human Resources Systems, Tools and Training

Garland McQueen

Operational and Financial Improvement, Interim Management Solutions

Jeanie Wells

Capacity Assessment, Transitional Planning and Coaching

Marilyn Scholl

Cooperative Governance, Board Training, Facilitation, and Assessment, Cooperative Development

Melanie Reid

Employee Surveys, Human Resources Systems, Tools and Training

Wynston Estis

Project Management, Merchandising, Retail Department Performance and Operational Improvement

“ I think the most important job of being a GM is prioritizing the truly big, important items from the clutter of day-to-day operations. ”

Baard Webster, former general manager, Spiral Natural Foods, Hastings, Minn.

“ It gives me a confidential advocate to help make difficult decisions. ”

Carrie Miller, general manager, Harvest Moon, Long Lake, Minn.

“ Coaching has helped build my confidence with policy governance and better understand of my role at La Montanita. ”

Dennis Hanley, General Manger, La Montanita Co-op, New Mexico

“ One of the most valuable things my coach helped me work on is to take out the emotion, but not the passion, attached to our collectively high ideals. ”

Jan Rasikas, general manager, Viroqua Food Co-op, Viroqua, Wisc.

“ My coach was a great resource for me in helping to gain alignment within my organization and to really make the most of the co-op model. ”

Josh Resnik, general manager, Wedge Community Co-op, Minneapolis, Minn.

“ Coaching helps with the ‘lonely at the top’ sentiment that I feel at times. ”

Pam Mehnert, general manager, Outpost Natural Foods, Milwaukee, Wisc.

“ Having someone in my corner to bounce things off of has really helped me. ”

Sabine Rhyne, general manager, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro, Vt.

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