Lead Growers discussed many inspirational ideas at our second CANNAtalk experience in Vancouver on January 9, 2020. They found a community of like-minded pioneers willing to share their experience, advice, and vision.
Yet they also lamented that as leaders their jobs are hard. The only solution to reducing their own hard work is by recruiting and managing an expanding team of passionate growers.
Lead Growers who shared their concerns and insights at our Vancouver gathering included:
True to form, these experts revealed their topmost concerns, and how they are successfully meeting the challenge. And what a challenge it has been!
The seemingly never-ending work of being a Lead Grower
During the black-market days, growers grew the plants all alone for years, with no breaks, no vacations - everything relied on them. You would think that once Lead Growers joined legal Licensed Producers, all those problems would go away. But instead, they’ve merely added to their tribulations.
As the Head Grower, I slept in our facility for 2 years until we had production under control.
Now they are responsible for managing big teams because the scale of cultivation is way beyond what a single person can do themselves. Managing a team requires HR policies, while legal cultivation means following government regulations and completing lots of paperwork.
Most of all, if Lead Growers want to end their workaholic lifestyle, they must gain the skills to find, train, manage, motivate, and retain workers as passionate and capable as they are.
Finding and keeping passionate new cannabis growers
What kind of people are attracted to work in the cannabis industry? They may be passionate about cannabis, which is wonderful. But they may also think the job is all about getting high or hanging loose with like-minded stoners. People think you can easily get rich in this industry. But it is not drug dealer money, it is greenhouse money.
There is a misconception between the culture of consumption and the culture of cultivation.
The reality is that the best employees will have more in common with farmers and scientists. Successful employees have the farmer work ethic, ready to put in long hours, versatile in skills and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Plus be able to follow procedures, and maybe even understand what it takes to improve them. These employees will be motivated to grow quality plants and improve results.
The alternative is doubly worrisome. It can be a problem getting stuck with fake growers, who won’t put in the effort, take unsafe shortcuts, and are difficult to get rid of as employees once they are hired. You have to learn what to look for in resumés and ask during job interviews to “weed” out the potential bad seeds.
Transitioning from a worker to the manager
Lead Growers are now team leaders. That means being less the total expert on everything technical about the job, and becoming more the “people person” who manages and motivates their team. That’s a shift in mindset that can be hard to swallow, but once a Head Grower accepts that, their focus changes from 100% doing to mostly leading. And leading means motivating, or more accurately, finding people who are already self-motivated, and then not demotivating them.
How do Lead Growers motivate employees? By sharing more information and control:
- When training employees, not only tell them what to do, but tell them why they are being asked to do it. Tell them the goal – for example, cleaner plants, better growth, healthier buds, etc.
- Tell them that while this is how we do it now (and have to follow our Standard Operating Procedures for quality and sometimes legal reasons), but that if they have ideas on how to achieve your goals with a better method, you are open to trying that. Give them some control for improvement, which will gain their buy-in.
- Treat your workers with respect. Clearly set expectations for their roles and outcomes. Give them regular feedback on how well they are performing. Praise good behavior in public, criticize bad behavior in private. And when you do critique them, talk about the behavior and the goals not met, rather than condemn them as a person. Look for ways to fix the problem by improving your procedures.
When Lead Growers give employees room to grow, the next generation of passionate growers will emerge. They will be the ones who not only put in the hard work, but show that they care about the plants. They only need to be told once or twice how to do something, and then they “get it” from there on out. They eagerly soak up horticulture knowledge. They even offer viable ideas on how to improve.
These are the future leaders Lead Growers want to retain, who will take more responsibility, allowing Lead Growers to regain more life balance.
Using technology like WhatsApp to communicate faster to the team
Our Lead Growers also talked about using technology to decentralize information. For example, by using WhatsApp. Why use WhatsApp? It’s a free messaging platform with secure, end-to-end encryption. While that was awesome during black market times, it is still extremely useful in a legal business setting.
WhatsApp is more than one-to-one communication. It does group chats that share messages, images, pdfs, slideshows, spreadsheets, and even videos with up to 256 people. Thus, WhatsApp lets Lead Growers quickly get key information out to all their staff, so they don't have to repeat training information more than once.
However, WhatsApp is not the only game in town. Growers told us about successfully using other similar apps, too. We’ll share more details in a future article.
Keeping the dream alive – with a dream team
The Lead Grower succeeds by creating a positive working atmosphere, communicating well with their team, and building a passionate and motivated team. It's a Lead Grower’s dream to teach someone as passionate about plant cultivation and quality as they are - to learn what they know, and to trust them with the plants. That way, the Lead Grower can get back to a normal life.
This discussion about management was just one of the interesting topics Lead Growers shared at our 2nd CANNAtalk experience. Panelists raved about the experience:
- “Pleasantly surprised.”
- “Best meeting ever, most informative to me.”
- “This was a very positive experience.”
- “This was a lot more collaborative than other experiences with LP’s I had so far.”
- “Nice to be able to connect.”
- “I loved it!”
The objective of CANNAtalk is to create stronger links between Canadian passionate growers and to nourish relationships and knowledge all year round.
Look for more great insights and ideas from your community of head growers at our 3rd CANNAtalk experience, THE PASSIONATE GROWER’S HUB, an exclusive space for Passionate Growers to connect, share, collaborate and explore specific topics of interest. Don't miss the opportunity to participate in a unique, fun and engaging virtual experience on May 27th and June 4th.