Group and College join forces to help candidates

Members aspiring to be elected to The Co-operative Group Board now have a new formal process to help them and ensure they are equipped with the skills required...

The Group has been working closely with the new Co-operative Learning and Development team of the Co-operative College to design and deliver its Group Board Development Centre. 

The GBDC isn’t a place or a thing. It is the formal process for any members of Regional Boards and Independent Societies aspiring to election to the Group Board, as well as for existing Group Board members seeking re-election. 

Two briefing sessions have already been held for members interested in standing for election to the Group Board and a further briefing is to take place in Manchester in October. 

The process involves members collecting and presenting a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate they have met the minimum standards required to serve on the Group Board. The standards relate directly to competencies contained in the Person Specification for Group Board Directors. 

The need for such a formal process was identified in 2009 when the Constitutional Review Board recommended the introduction of an assessment process to satisfy the membership that those governing the Society had the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide the strategic vision to drive The Co-operative Group forward. 

This was agreed by the Group Board in January 2010 and work began on designing the new process.

“The Group Board agreed it was essential that directors must be able to discharge their responsibilities in a manner that was compatible with a business which if listed, would be in the FTSE 100. The Board agreed that, as a part of the eligibility requirements to stand for election, all candidates should be required to demonstrate a level of competency for the role,” commented Group Secretary Moira Lees.

As part of the process, those considering standing for election firstly attend a formal briefing to receive further details, folders and materials, in addition to meeting the managers from The Co-operative Group and colleagues from the Co-operative College supporting the process. 

Joan Keysell, Co-operative Group Member and Director Learning Manager, said: “The briefing is an essential part of the process. This has been confirmed by members who have given us excellent feedback on what they valued about the briefing meeting.

“The tone is of a supportive nature; Some of the ‘fear’ has been taken out of this process; and The process was explained well and was easy to understand, are typical of the feedback comments.”

After attending a briefing, members who register with the GBDC are involved in a two-stage assessment process. Firstly, their portfolio is reviewed by an independent assessor who provides ongoing support and guidance for members throughout the process.

Secondly, an in-depth professional discussion takes place between the member and an independent assessor about their portfolio of evidence. 

The Group Board Development Centre is being phased in over three years and ultimately will require members to demonstrate analytical skills, strategic understanding and in depth business knowledge, financial decision-making skills, knowledge of the legal framework in which the Directors operate, and understanding and empathy with our co-operative values and principles and the Society’s stakeholders.

Members’ assessment evidence is derived from their committee experience and relevant co-operative studies and assignments. Janet Simms, Head of Co-operative Learning and Development for the Co-operative College, said: “The title ‘Development Centre’ indicates the opportunities available. At each stage of the assessment process, members registered on the programme are encouraged to identify their developmental needs so that appropriate actions can be taken. The Group Board Development Centre provides a model of best practice which can be adapted for co-ops of any size concerned with succession planning.” 


This feature is sponsored by The Co-operative Group.

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