Empathetic Leadership in Cannabis

Empathetic leadership is incredibly important in any organization, and and companies in the cannabis world are no exception.

The cannabis industry is a great place to build a career. It’s a continuously growing field with unending opportunities, which is what has made it so appealing to so many people.

But even this industry can come with it’s own stressors for employees. 

Your employees can see how quickly the industry is growing around you; they also see how much it’s projected to grow in the coming years. Not to mention all of the new cannabis-related retail outlets that are popping up everywhere. The demand for cannabis-related products is growing.

While these are all good signs of a prosperous industry, this can present its own set of challenges to your workers. Creating a positive work environment where your employees thrive is critical to any business, and especially so in the cannabis.

There are normal stressors that employees everywhere deal with; things like low morale, feeling underappreciated, or not being able to connect well with a team of co-workers. Then there are additional stressors like watching the ever-changing and sometimes turbulent effect that Capitol Hill has on the industry. Factors like this can make employees wonder if they are even stable in their jobs.

So why is it so important to make sure to practice empathetic leadership within a company? 

A management or leadership team that recognizes the needs of its employees and values creating a positive work environment will help foster happy employees who want to stay with a company longer, who feel like a part of the fabric of the company, and who tend to be more engaged and productive.

An employer who considers things like if their employees are anxious about their career’s future or making sure they feel appreciated for their work will create a stronger, more positive team working towards the same goal. Research shows that-- oftentimes outweighing bigger paychecks--people choose to work for companies that offer non-tangible benefits like engaging work, a team atmosphere, the ability to work on their own, good work-life balance, and a supportive, appreciative environment.

So how do you adopt an empathetic leadership mindset within the management of your company?

Empathetic Leadership Keeps An Eye Out For…

The normal goings-on of most businesses and the political uncertainty constantly whirling around our industry can affect people in a variety of ways.

Oftentimes it leads to people experiencing excessive stress or feeling burnt out. According to a 2016 survey by CareerBuilder, 24% of employees that they surveyed said that they had called in sick in the past year just because they needed a mental health day to relax and de-stress.

Chronic stress is connected with lower performance. This means your employees are having a hard time focusing on the work at hand and are either exhausted or mentally distracted by other things. And when you are building a business, it’s important your employees be focused.

As an employer looking through an empathetic leadership lens, you can work to try to spot and resolve these issues within your company to keep your employees happy in their work life. Some of the things to keep your eyes out for in your team members are: 

  • A lack of trust 
  • Poor decision making
  • A lack of team effectiveness
  • Low morale
  • Feelings of resignation
  • Defensive, blaming behavior
  • Creating conflict with coworkers
  • Promoting an overall negative attitude amongst their coworkers

Empathetic leadership helps you to see these issues in your employees and recognize that there is a deeper issue at hand that could be remedied by some simple changes in the workplace.

Take the time to invest in your people and it will not only help your business in the everyday running, but will help your business thrive. Any business is only as good as the people who run it.

So what can you do as an empathetic leader to invest in your people, create a positive work environment, increase productivity and engagement, and create a workforce of committed, valuable long-term employees?

Empathetic Leadership Invests in People By…

There are a number of easy ways to create the kind of work environment that fosters happy, thriving, and productive employees.

Prioritizing Onboarding and Training

One of the first things that can cause problems for a company is their onboarding and training practices. If an employee is hired and thrown into a job with inadequate or (hopefully not) no training, it can be demoralizing and set the employee up for failure through no fault of their own.

Prioritizing and optimizing onboarding and training processes can put the new employee on the right path to being a happy, effective, and contributing team member from the get go. 

This also includes providing opportunities for ongoing learning and career advancements. When presented with the opportunity to work their way up and continually improve in a positive work environment, employees will want to stay and commit to help grow your company.

Conducting Regular Check-Ins

Creating a comfortable, positive work environment doesn’t have to be complicated. Studies show that one of the top ways to make employees feel happy at work is by conducting regular check-ins. 

Make a quick stop by an employee’s desk to ask them their opinion about something work-related, or drop an informal virtual note to a remote employee. Then show care and attention by following up with them about what you discussed. People feel valued when they are heard, and this small step from management can go a long way.

Clear Communication and Encouraging Collaboration

One of the classic sitcom episodes used by virtually every show that has ever been made is the massive miscommunication plotline. It can be hilarious to watch from a distance; but it is incredibly frustrating to be in the middle of, especially in the workplace. Encouraging and practicing clear communication is critical to a smooth operation.

Collaboration amongst your employees is critical as well. It goes back to people feeling and being heard. When someone’s thoughts and ideas feel valued, they are more likely to engage, contribute, and feel like an important part of the team.

Recognizing Hard Work

Recognizing an employee’s hard work can make all the difference to them. They could be in the midst of a stressful project and feeling demoralized or maybe even wanting to quit. An act of appreciation and encouragement could be the difference between helping a great employee get over a hurdle and losing them altogether.

Having Fun and Leading by Example

Being productive and growing as a company doesn’t mean that you have to work in a stuffy, no-enjoyment kind of work environment. Make sure to take the time as a team to celebrate wins, birthdays, and other moments special in your employees’ lives. Have theme days and after-work events to show another level of fun mixed with appreciation for your staff.

And if you want your employees to have a positive attitude, you need to lead by example. An employer or manager sets the tone for everyone--if you are a serious person who doesn’t take the time to smile or joke with your staff when appropriate, your employees will emulate you. If you want an encouraging, upbeat, thriving work environment, then you need to be the personification of that. Your employees will follow suit with you.

Empathetic leadership isn’t a concept that is far-out there or unattainable. It merely means caring about your employees and their well-being enough to check-in, make sure they are doing well, and working to create an environment that helps foster happy, thriving, productive employees. The cannabis industry is going to continue to grow and thrive; so create a place within your niche of the industry that can grow and thrive with its people as well.