Encourage Feedback From Your Team (Part 2)

Dispensary: Encourage Feedback from your Cannabis Dispensary Team
Encouraging feedback from employees can be time-intensive, mentally draining, and tricky to navigate. Lucky for you, we have some advice to offer, from Cannabis Dispensary Manager to Dispensary Manager. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of how to gather the honest feedback you need to help your cannabusiness grow. 
Often, many communication channels are needed to communicate different kinds of feedback. Using different methods can make the process work well for employees at every level of your retail cannabis business. Try out a few methods to discover what works best for you and your employees — And if it doesn’t work, then try again! No matter what your management style is, feedback from your team is essential for growth. Having a structured space where employees are encouraged to share feedback helps them feel valued. And in the long-run, this increases employee retention and addresses the age-old issue of employee turnover in the retail space. 
Try out these five steps and tips to improve your channels of communication with your valued employees:  

1. Provide Structure
The best way to get the kind of feedback you are looking for is to provide structure for it. This can be as simple as having set questions for employees to answer or providing set times for feedback discussions. For example, your Budtenders could submit anonymous feedback via an online survey form. The online form makes sharing feedback at all hours of operation convenient. And the option to leave feedback anonymously encourages honest responses. You can also schedule regular meetings or Leaders Lunches with your management team. The face-to-face meeting environment encourages open collaboration on how to update your company’s best practices. Your employees will learn to rely upon these systems, and if they aren’t working, ask your employees for suggestions on improving the process!

When I am working with a small team, I switch up my methods for gaining feedback on an employee by employee basis. This allows me to cater to each employee’s communication style and gain more valuable feedback. A good general rule of thumb is — the more specific your questions are, the more specific your feedback is likely to be. 

2.Practice Active Listening
Active listening is the art of listening completely, understanding, responding, and remembering what is being said. It is as simple and difficult as that. This practice increases mutual trust and improves productivity with employees, however, so it is well worth the effort. If you have an employee struggling to express the improvement they wish to see, ask them to daydream for a moment and describe what the ideal situation looks like. Then stop to listen and take notes. Maintain good eye contact throughout the conversation. Watch your body language and be careful not to interrupt. Be sure to restate and clarify as needed throughout the conversation so that there are no misunderstandings. Validate and encourage their feedback — everyone wants an opportunity to be heard. 

I find that taking notes allows me to take a step back as a natural leader and allows my employees’ space to speak openly. Writing down what is being said stifles my instinct to respond and provides me time to digest what is being said. It is good to remember that these feedback sessions focus on listening, not directing.

3. Be Transparent
Transparency is another key to encouraging honest feedback from employees. If you set the example of providing honest feedback, it is easier for your employees to follow that practice as well. If your office environment allows, you can try practicing an ‘Open-Door Policy.’ This is when you offer a standing invitation for employees to meet with you and provide feedback as it comes up. I found there are natural benefits and drawbacks to creating this kind of environment. As mentioned before, have structure employees can follow to keep the conversation productive, approachable, and actionable. Ask questions that you ask yourself every day as a manager. Teach your employees your decision-making process and how to use it. With enough practice, one day, you will all be speaking the same company language of progress. 
Questions you can ask during employee feedback sessions: 

  • How is this situation affecting your productivity? 
  • What can be done to fix this? 
  • What do you suggest as a solution? 
  • How could you improve your suggestion? 

4. Follow Through
The most important phase of this process is what happens after you’ve received your employee’s feedback — following through. I find it to be most effective to outline the next steps at the end of each conversation so that everyone has tangible tasks they can complete to further action. Make sure that these tasks are realistic, attainable in regards to budget and time spent, and something you can follow-up on in a timely fashion. Empowering your employees to champion change within their workspace shares a feeling of accomplishment and ownership of a job well-done. 

Questions You Can Ask to Form an Action Plan: 

  • What can we do? 
  • Who is responsible?
  • What timeframe can this be done in? 
  • What does success look like? 
  • How can we measure success? 
  • When will we follow-up on this again? 

5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
The most difficult part of this process is doing it over again and again and again. Gathering employee feedback is an ongoing process that needs to be actively tended to as a Cannabis Dispensary Manager. It can help to schedule these feedback sessions on your team’s calendar so that employees can plan accordingly and prepare to have a productive conversation. Online forms or surveys can also fill in the gaps between these meetings by allowing employees access to the feedback process when it is convenient for them. The key is to keep this process moving constantly and consistently, though to be most effective. 
Feedback from your most valuable partners, your employees, is essential to any business growth in today’s competitive cannabis industry. Remember that feedback is, by definition, a tool to be used as a basis for improvement. If this tool is becoming too time-intensive or is losing its edge, then become innovative and adapt it to fit your retail cannabis company.

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