3 Keys to Building a Strong Cannabis Company Culture
And one that withstands various changes.
An essential yet frequently overlooked piece of the brand expansion puzzle is culture. But culture isn’t something you can create and then walk away from. It requires nurturing, buy-in from your team, and a commitment to its growth.
When people talk about company culture, they typically envision a team grouping up at the launch of a business, but what many don’t realize is that organizational culture can be changed and strengthened at any stage of the business. As with other vital functions of a company, culture can weaken or get knocked off course for various reasons, like an acquisition or moving office locations – and, most recently, a global crisis with countless implications.
In our case, Unity Rd. was recently acquired, resulting in a team merge, all while working remotely. The merger triggered a need to huddle up, realign and develop a new culture—one that works for our new team— so that we can continue to grow swiftly across the country. Whether you’re creating a new culture or seeking to strengthen or shift an existing one, below are a few key tips to help any team get started.
1. Co-create a solid foundation
No structure can be built and continue to grow without a solid foundation. We refer to our foundation as the pillars of our culture. The key to creating a successful, strong foundation is to build it as a team. No one wants you to tell them what to believe, so instead, get everyone involved in the process. Our team planned an organizational retreat that was solely focused on creating our culture. In addition to growing closer as a work family, the process helped everyone feel valued and gave them a sense of ownership in creating our culture. After all, your teams live out the culture every day, making it essential for them to believe in it just as strongly as you do.
2. Incorporate culture questions into the hiring process
Over time, teams change - businesses grow, people come and go – and it’s times like these that strong culture is needed the most. A clearly communicated culture unites teams and needs to be present throughout the hiring process to make sure your team is onboarding people who will accept the culture and strengthen it. While recruiting and vetting, pepper in questions that prompt culture-fit answers, like recall a time when a tough decision had to be made and explain how it felt and the outcome. These thought-provoking questions will help you and your team learn more about the candidate’s values and beliefs. Choose questions that are less about the right answer and more about sharing a personal or professional journey. I’ve come to find that you can teach qualified people any task with good training, but you can’t train someone to have certain values, beliefs or character.
3. Walk the walk
It’s not enough to have buy-in from your team—leadership must also be a living, breathing example of the culture in action. This can take shape in various ways, like structuring meetings around recognizing values and approaching performance reviews or business decisions through the lens of the foundational pillars. Workplace culture needs to be more than words on a wall, it needs to help advance your business and empower your teams, and nothing promotes the use of it more than showing how powerful of a tool it can be.
A strong company culture is felt at every level, first by your team and then by your customer. When done right, it leaves a positive and lasting impact on anyone who has the opportunity to feel it, leading to successful operations that are strong to withstand company shifts, like expansion, a global crisis, and more.