Wearing Two Hats

  | Board of Directors

I am a cashier at our Co-op, and I am also a Board member. Being new to the Board, it can be challenging to remember which hat I am wearing at any given time! A little background: our bylaws require one and allow up to two staff directors on the Board. It’s commonly thought that I’m on the Board to represent only the Co-op employees, but that’s not the case. Staff directors, like patron directors, represent all shareholders. However, in my experience, my insights as an employee have been welcomed at our meetings.

I have learned a lot already in my short time on the Board, and am still learning. The financials are the most challenging for me—there are so many moving parts. Board members have the opportunity to attend an online-training that I am sure will help me better understand this complicated topic. I’m looking forward to delving into the concepts and increasing my understanding of the Co-op’s financial position.

Most striking to me of late is how Board members all work together to support each other and our General Manager. I have been most impressed by how we take the time to respectfully communicate with each other, clearly and carefully. This allows me to feel safe and to share my ideas and comments, even as a “newbie.” As an avowed introvert, my usual pattern is to sit and listen before jumping in, and I am already feeling comfortable enough to speak up in our meetings.  This is a big deal for me!

Respectful communication! As a cashier, I have been the recipient of many kind words: “Thank you for being here!” “You all are doing such a great job.” I hear sentiments such as these numerous times during my stints at the register. It is wonderful to feel seen and appreciated! I have reflected on my past interactions (or lack thereof) with cashiers when I have been the customer—times when I was rushing through my day and just wanted to get my shopping done and get home. I have resolved to remember how much it can mean to make eye contact (especially crucial now, wearing masks!) and offer a sincere “Thank you.” Mutual respect is helping me get through these times, and I will be mindful to carry that through to the other side of these times, when we get back to “normal.”

I am also seeing customers treating each other respectfully: giving each other the recommended six feet of space, letting others with fewer items ahead in line, and the like. There are some moments of frustration but not as many as I expected, given the trying times in which we find ourselves. This is inspiring to me, especially on days that I come in for my shift with a cloud over my head, feeling down and low-energy, sad and hopeless. I get on my register and after a customer or two my mood improves. I believe this is a direct result of how the Board, our staff and our customers are all treating each other—with respect. It really makes a difference. I am grateful and honored to be a part of this Co-op as an employee, shareholder and Director!

By Denise Glover