The first year of the Members’ Council Interview with chairman Marcel van Tol14 November 2019
On 1 January 2019 the Members’ Council was installed in replacement of the General Members Meeting (GMM) of Royal FloraHolland. Chairman Marcel van Tol talks about the past year.
The first Member Sessions since the Members' Council started in January were held in June. How did these go?
'They went well. With the Member Sessions we find out the opinions of the members on a certain subject in six countries. This way, the members are included in a decision from the initial stage. It used to be the other way round, when plans of the management were presented at regional meetings and people could respond to this.'
What did these Member Sessions achieve specifically?
'This time the subject was Sustainability. We asked the members their views on compulsory environmental registration and certification. Partly on the basis of these talks, the Members' Council drew up recommendations that we presented to the management in October.'
This was the first time the Members' Council issued an official recommendation for the management, wasn't it? What did it say?
'Yes, this was a great milestone. The heart of the matter is that we support the idea of environmental registration and certification, but preferably in two stages: by the end of 2020 all growers have to register what they use digitally, and they have to be certified by the end of 2021, with audits and inspections. The ambition is to meet all FSI standards in the long run. We also said that there should be a second official certification party. There is only one now. The growers should also be properly supported. And we requested a focus on the international members, as the situation there is very different from the Netherlands.'
What would you still like to improve about the Member Sessions?
'There are of course always points for improvement, but I think this is a very good form of involving people more in the decision-making process. I think the attendance could be higher. As a member of the association you also have the responsibility of thinking along about the future. We always have an interesting programme, there is a good hot and cold buffet and it's simply useful to increase your network in your own sector. We kindly invite the members to attend the next Member Sessions.'
Early in September you had a two-day meeting with the Council of Members. What was on the agenda?
'During this meeting it was put forward that we as a Members'
Council require a 'man on the moon'. In the sixties, NASA had but
objective: putting a man on the moon. The whole company worked towards this, this objective was on everyone's mind. We also want such a 'man on the moon'. We need a clear vision from the cooperative: what are we all working towards? We gave the company this signal. During this meeting we also worked on training our questioning skills. If you ask the right questions, and listen to each other openly, then you help steer the cooperative.'
How are you looking back on the first year of the Members' Council?
'I believe we are taking major steps forward. The collaboration with the management, the MT and the Supervisory Board is based on trust and openness. We in fact have three tasks: the official task of the General Members Meeting, the advisory task towards the management and member bonding. The better we function, the better we can help determine the course of the cooperative from the role of member. To do our work properly it is important to keep up our level of knowledge, train our skills -such as the skill of asking questions- and to keep the people in the Council of Members properly motivated. A motivated Members' Council has an effect on the members, but also on the business. We do our very best for this.'
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