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Creating a Culture to Engage Employees

If you’re not actively defining, managing, and nurturing your store’s culture you’re likely falling well behind the pack in a very fast moving industry.

Although you cannot see it, culture is a living, breathing, and all-influencing aspect of any business. I would argue it is the most important item to consider (followed very closely by communication) when you’re looking to ensure the success of your business, regardless of the industry.

Now the question is: How do we create our very own version of our ultimate culture, and nurture and sustain it?

Step 1 – Clearly Define YOUR Culture by Asking Questions

There needs to be an extremely clear understanding among your leadership team and the rest of your working team of what your culture is, why it exists, who leads it, and how it is being carried out. By asking questions such as the “Six Critical Questions” that Patrick Lencioni shares in his book, The Advantage, you’ll achieve some incredible clarity on your business and its culture, allowing you to move forward with confidence. Lencioni’s fundamental questions are: Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What is most important right now? Who must do what?

By answering these questions, or some similar questions, you will no doubt be well on your way to defining a culture that is not only unique to you, your business, and your team, but you will also be providing everyone with a clear understanding of what actions need to be taken (daily) to ensure that the culture is managed and upheld.

Step 2 – Keeping Everyone’s Finger on the Pulse

It simply isn’t enough to put in all of the work on Step 1 and assume that your job is done. You’ve only really just begun. For a culture to be effective and sustained it needs to be maintained and consistently checked in on. If we lack not only the motivation to take action coming out of Step 1 but also lack the desire to be consistently stoking the culture’s fire, it will most certainly burn out. Whose responsibility is it to make sure things are clearly defined and being carried out? I’d suggest everyone. Make it clear to your team that without them and their own efforts to keep up the culture, there is less of a chance of it surviving.

Engaging your entire team will separate you from the crowd in the cannabis retail industry and likely make your team a lot happier to be a part of what you’ve created.

Step 3 – Get Creative

Culture isn’t just the music you play, how your staff dress, the way in which you greet your customers, or the vibe in your staff meetings. It can and should be much more. Challenge your team to think outside of the box.

Fully supporting each other at every opportunity is an easy way to stand out with your culture and do things a little bit differently.

I love the idea of an extremely supportive culture from the top down. In practice that would look like the owner unpacking a new shipment of products, or the general manager wiping down baskets and counters. Fully supporting each other at every opportunity is an easy way to stand out with your culture and do things a little bit differently.

Another easy and creative idea that has a great impact on the culture is curating your own in-house library. Allowing your staff to shop for industry-aligned books that they are interested in, and housing those in your staff room beside past issues of Cannabis Retailer, adds a very cool dynamic to your space and your team. Finding a spot to have 10-20 books on hand for all of your staff to engage with would do wonders for many aspects of your business, not to mention fuel some pretty awesome conversations among your team.

By challenging the leadership team to think outside of the box on some culture impacting initiatives, you are supporting an extremely healthy space for your team to feel valued, inspired, and truly part of your team.

Passion & People

The last two pieces to this puzzle aren’t steps, but ongoing factors that can never fade.

In order for culture to thrive and be sustained you need passion and you need people.

As the leader(s) you have to get your team onboard and keep fueling the passion for what you do, otherwise your culture will inevitably suffer and it will limit what you and your business can actually do.

In order to maintain and grow your passion for the cannabis industry you need to stay refreshed and reenergized. This might require a vacation, daily workouts, or simply taking five minutes every day to meditate. Find something that is going to allow you to keep your own passion high, as your team will always feed off of the energy you bring. You need to be hyper aware of how you are showing up to work since it will have an immeasurable impact on the culture you’ve worked so hard to create.

You absolutely have to put the right people in place and your team needs to jive. This can be tough, but I encourage you to set and maintain a standard of who you are looking to add to your team, and do not waver from those standards.

Empowering Champions

Outside of your overall working team you are going to need to empower some champions to do a little extra to ensure the cultural standards are being upheld. These champions are most often members of your leadership team, but could be anyone who you would want to invest some time and energy into as a long-term team member. Create an open dialogue with these champions and let them know that they are not only appreciated, they are also a key reason that your business and your culture are successful.

Having the right people in place and some solid champions will help to create an incredible sense of value and camaraderie for the team.

If you’re able to confidently cover Steps 1, 2, and 3 and add in the remaining two puzzle pieces of people and passion, you will no doubt be well on your way to creating an extremely unique and attractive culture. A strong culture will have a lasting, positive impact on your team and on the business, and will leave you and your team setting new trends in this industry.