Some Thoughts on Cooperatives and Organizations

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Involvement in the organization of cooperatives and associations taught me some lessons in life. Motives in joining an entity vary from the perspective of every individual. Each member has something in mind and we cannot ascertain whether such motives are aligned with the vision, mission and goals of the organization. Such intentions cannot be hidden forever as time will release it and the reality will be known. In cooperatives, voluntary and open membership principle is observed. No one if forced to become a member and can freely leave when situation calls such abjure of membership. It is on this aspect that cooperatives differ with other enterprises as the prime motive is not only on how to earn profit but to build relationships with fellow members and the community. It cannot be totally denied that people need financial rewards but embracing cooperative principles and practices can gradually transform perspective.

This brings the issue on obligation of every member to perform assigned tasks whether as staff, officer or member. It often boils down to the commitment and desire to help in the attainment of established plans, programs and activities. Often some are good at talking during the planning phase but fall short during the execution of plans. I do not intend to castigate individuals but such disclosures can serve as reminder to all of us that we need to ensure that our personal goals should not deviate from that of the organizational goals when we function within an organization. It is not an easy task to be loyal to the organization but the best thing to do is to function in accordance with the rules and regulations as one must imbibe the corporate culture. Some may disagree but the rule of majority must be followed. In cooperatives it is adherence to democratic control principle. Majority rule prevails and consensus building is highly encouraged as ownership of the enterprise belongs to the members. This shapes attitude of people towards one another and constantly builds better rapport.

Realities in organization point to respect as a great factor in its growth or reduction. Most enterprises grow because employees and management respect the individual differences that can be attributed to cultural differences or diverse background. It becomes difficult for an organization to grow when individual differences become a focus instead of issues and concerns related to organizational directions. Disintegration can occur when economic managers or leaders pay attention to personal matters outside the organization’s scope. While it might not be prohibited to look into other people’s lifestyle, the improvement in their lives should not always be related to the things they do in their workplace. It might be that the change in lifestyle is an offshoot of peer or other institutional culture that contributed to the sudden shift in dealings and personal behavior. Coaching and mentoring can enhance the potentials of every individual. It can be at this level that personal development can happen through the intervention of the organization with the acceptance of the person.

The changes in a person’s actions are reflections of imbibed learnings from the environment. It might be inherent or acquired as it surfaces when situation calls for such. In organizations collective action must prevail and should be anchored on the policies, rules and regulations. When actions taken contradict the approved policy it becomes a personal issue that can weaken an organization. Some cooperatives fail because of wrong decisions and actions taken. We heard some testimonies from leaders that shared their successes and failures in life. It is a great reminder that when we act as trusted individuals of organizations we should always do it in accordance with the expected quality service delivery.

Leadership in organizations often nurtures sustainability of operations. Weak leadership can cause severe conflicts that may affect working relationships. Critical to the growth of cooperatives is the leadership style of the Board and Management. When Board of Directors and Staff have smooth relations there is an assurance on the attainment of the VMG. The goals can be realized as there is a united approach in the implementation of plans and programs. Leadership with vested interest can unmake an organization when not properly addressed. The check and balance when done properly can deter occurrence of abuses and misunderstandings among personnel and members of entities. The norms that guide people in daily lives must always be upheld to ensure order and good governance. Awareness of members, officers and staff on established standards can facilitate institutional growth given lesser conflicts. It assures all stakeholders on the clarity of purpose and direction with the transparency of business operations.

The credibility of leaders as enthusiastic individuals working for the organization may influence behavior of those involved. Right decisions and actions happen when leaders are cognizant of members and staff needs. This is essence of having meetings, planning and evaluation to mutually agree and discuss issues and concerns.

The aspect of spirituality can nurture an organization when the people preaching walk the talk. This situation has similarities with institutions that preach the Holy Gospel that in real life they perform what they say. There is an expectation that leaders perform their respective functions over and above personal agenda. It brings us to the common buzzword on moral ascendancy.

Finally, this vertically challenged individual believes that what we do in real life whether in the office or at home is not a test or examination. Our attitude affects our dealings with people. If our actions are done against our will or with that of the organizational mandate, it is assumed that conscience shall bother us when the time comes. It may not be revealed to the public but our integrity will always be noticed by the people we influence.

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