One of the most important aspects of being a Dispensary Manager is cultivating a strong team. One of the most important aspects of creating a strong team is providing open feedback in performance reviews. And one of the most important aspects to keep in mind with performance reviews is to adapt the process to work for your unique team.
Don’t panic over the importance of this process, though. Remember that these should be open, productive conversations with your employees. They should also become a routine instead of a once-a-year, momentous occasion. A pay raise does not have to be provided with every review either — although no employee would ever argue against that. These reviews should focus on having a discussion, though, not a negotiation. Be transparent about how and when employees can request pay increases and allow these conversations to happen outside of the performance discussion. Read on to learn how to integrate formal and informal reviews into your management routine with the help of the tools in touCanna.
Be Specific & Reflective
As mentioned in our guideline for encouraging employee feedback — the more structure you provide for these review meetings, the more specific the responses will usually be. You want to provide a framework your dispensary employees can understand and succeed in. By using a structured technique, both you and your employees can all be on the same page, working together to write the next chapter for your cannabis dispensary. You might be asking right now, “But how do I even get my Budtenders to write?” My answer is, “That is your job, as their manager, to figure out!” I’m also happy to share some of my tried and true methods for managing successful employee performance reviews.
To start, these performance reviews do not need to be written or spoken. In fact, I prefer to use a combination of both methods. It is important to keep in mind that you want these reviews to be successful conversations, and with that comes some adaptability. I tend to adapt each review to fit the position I am reviewing. For example, you could use a multiple-choice or sliding scale review with Budtenders. This method helps introduce the company-wide language, reinforce department standards, and standardize feedback. It also allows you to outline attainable areas for improvement and trackable tasks. With middle management employees, you could use both sliding scale questions and open discussion. With this method, you have the chance to brainstorm and also track the employee’s ability to uphold company standards over time. With upper management employees, you could keep the format open to a list of questions with an opportunity to respond both in writing and in person. For each type of review, I suggest having three consistent questions for all employees to answer. This consistency will allow you to assess the overall company culture, common ideas, and opportunities to enact change.
To help provide more structure for your first dispensary employee performance review, break the conversation down into the following sections:
- Communication Skills
- Creativity in the Workplace
- Areas for Improvement
- Lessons Learned
- Management Ability
- Goal Setting
touCanna’s Performance module also offers useful features to help track employee’s progress over time. On the Performance dashboard, you can quickly review an employee’s entire performance history. You can also add employee Acknowledgements for times when they go above and beyond the requirements of their position. Within the Acknowledgements section, you can make a note of the award type, date, and reason why it was awarded. You can also choose to notify the entire team about an employee’s achievement or privately notify the employee. This feature provides you with an easy way to manage and incorporate company-wide employee recognition into your routine.
Alternatively, if an employee makes a mistake, you can make note of this by adding a Discipline note to the employee’s profile in touCanna. This feature allows you to note the violation type, date, warnings given, and consequences if the violation occurs again. You can also add dates for a Probationary Period, a detailed description of the violation, and the corrective measures you plan to take. My favorite feature, however, is the requirement for both the manager and employee to enter their PIN at the end of the Discipline form. This confirms they have both read the form and understand the action that is being taken. It provides a level of transparency that all team members can get behind and encourages taking responsibility within the team setting.
I encourage you to use this Performance dashboard often and always have it pulled up in one-on-one meetings with employees. This tool allows you to give consistent feedback and easily review the history of any employee at your dispensary. You can then use these past notes as starting points for the current conversation and tools for planning further improvement.
Elaborate & Collaborate
There comes an opportunity in every performance review to dive deeper or move on. I encourage you to always dig deeper if time allows. You never know what you might uncover! However, with that suggestion is a recognition that the review process can be an emotional process for an employee. Constructive criticism can be a hard pill to swallow and provide. The key is to not present the conversation with right or wrong answers. Instead, give the employee and manager an opportunity to be comfortable to both speak and listen.
Here are some example questions to ask during an employee performance review:
- Be we start, is there anything you want to express? Do you have any concerns that you would like to bring up about your department or the company?
- In your opinion, what is the purpose of this performance review?
- What are you hoping to accomplish at this company over the next quarter, six months, or year?
- What was the biggest challenge you faced in the workplace recently? How did you overcome it, or not?
- Do you feel that your personal goals align with the company’s goals? Why or why not?
- What do you see the goals of this cannabis business being? What do you think the goals of your department are?
- Do you and the dispensary team work well together? If not, how could it improve?
- What is one area in your professional development that you feel you could improve in? What can I do, or what resource can I provide to help you improve?
- How has management helped you do your job? How has management hindered your performance?
- If you could change one aspect of your current job, what would it be and why? How would you implement that change?
A technique I like to use to direct the conversation is to ask the employee and the manager to each complete the same written review about the employee’s performance. I then schedule a meeting to sit down together and review each answer in an open discussion format. I find this to be a great method for helping employees and managers see the other side of the situation and find a middle ground of understanding.
Another great way to keep the conversation productive is to discuss problem-solving techniques. As a manager, you have the opportunity to teach your employees how to best work with you. Tell them what you need, or ask questions that direct them to answers you can understand and act upon. Together, you can create realistic goals and deadlines that both further the employee and the company. touCanna also offers tools to assist with setting goals during an employee’s performance review. The Goals section within the Performance module allows you to make note of new goals, add a due date, update the status of progress, and assign it to be reviewed by an overseeing manager. You can also assign tasks to employees so that there are clear steps to be taken and followed-up on after the review has ended.
Remember that performance reviews require honesty from both the employee and manager! An employee cannot grow in ways you want them to without you taking the time to explain your expectations. A performance review is a perfect opportunity for this explanation.
Plan & Process
The essential part of the performance review is to have measurable results and a clear action plan. This does not mean that you have to administer and track test results for each dispensary employee, although it could if that fits the role well. All you really need are clear action points to follow up on in the next review. You want to be sure to outline your expectations, discuss goals, set deadlines, record it all, and use it as a tool in your next review.
Example Goals to Set with a Budtender:
- Learn about one new Vendor every week. Ask the manager on shift to quiz you at the end of your week.
- Learn about one new product every day. Ask the manager on shift to quiz you at the end of each shift.
- Arrive 15 minutes early for every shift for the next 30 days.
- Increase your average sales of cannabis concentrates over the next Quarter.
- Find an inefficiency in the dispensary — Outline why it is inefficient and possible methods for improving it. Then discuss your plan with the team at the monthly department meeting.
I stand by a firm rule of putting everything in writing first, because that is what I need to do to process information. And second, because then I have something specific to refer to in the future. I find it best practice to share my notes from the review with the employee as well so that they have something to refer to overtime. A secret plan is not a plan everyone can act upon, so make sure to give your employees the advantage of transparency.
touCanna’s Performance module offers tools to ensure you and your employee follow-up on the progress being made. The Meetings section enables you to schedule the next performance review, set a reminder to schedule a follow-up meeting, and save all the necessary notes you took during the discussion. You can make note of the type of meeting you are having, date and time, location or virtual meeting information, purpose, and agenda notes. You can also add Goals to the Meeting summary, which will appear in the assigned employee’s Performance – Goals section. From the Meetings window, you can also assign Tasks and make a tangible plan for improving your employee can easily follow. These tasks have due dates added, so it is clear when the assigned employee needs to have them completed. Discussing and creating goals with your employees can show that you care about their progress and ideas and are invested in their development.
Reviews are also only effective if they are held on a regular basis and have timely follow-through. Be sure to schedule performance reviews in advance and keep to a regular schedule! A great way to do this is to use the Meetings and Reminder tools in touCanna. Your goal is to establish a conversation of constant improvement so your employees can think of ways to improve before you ever have to.