New dispensary managers always remember their first days on the job, whether it was good or bad, and it will be based on the quality of your dispensary onboarding program. The fact that some cannabis organizations spend little time and effort on onboarding is quite surprising.

So, what makes onboarding a critical aspect of talent development? More specifically, why spend the resources and effort on the effective onboarding of dispensary managers? People rarely forget their dispensary onboarding experiences, positive or otherwise. It’s a time of significant transition for them at many levels, including the intellectual, social, and environmental aspects…and the fact that they’re working in the cannabis industry.

Effective dispensary manager onboarding has an undeniable influence on team behaviors and results. Managers are the face of the culture, and their leadership behaviors and actions must align with the organization’s culture. Culture is a potential competitive advantage in the cannabis industry, and new dispensary managers are more likely to succeed when they are well-trained to adopt the leadership competencies needed to align with business goals and bottom-line results.

Most often we find cannabis organizations borrowing individual best practices from here and there. But what leaders may miss is that success is about all the parts working together to create the desired results. While borrowing parts of a training program from various sources may add some value, organizations will only realize the maximum potential of people programs when all the parts integrate to create a vital talent management system.

Onboarding managers are important for many reasons. For one, it can play a pivotal role in the retention of top talent within a dispensary, with a direct impact on the bottom line. Because the costs of employee turnover with continuous hiring and attrition pay a steep price for their poor dispensary employee retention strategies.

Further, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicts that the cost of replacing a professional or executive-level employee may be as much as twice (2x) her annual salary. That includes advertising for the open position, communication with potential candidates, interviewing, screening, hiring, management time, and training.

Another hidden cost is lost productivity. On average, it may take 12 to 24 months for a new manager to reach a comfort level. One-third of executives miss expectations within the first two (2) years. These conversations are not taking place in the C-suite, and they should. Instead, dispensary training costs are considered a burden, a forced outcome of attrition in organizations. Healthy organizations that realize the cost of attrition invest about 35 percent of a manager’s salary in their professional development.

As telling as the numbers cited above are, they do not necessarily take into consideration the impact on team culture, team norms, and morale when losing a dispensary manager and onboarding a new one. Staff reports anxiety, distress, and fear from the prospect of losing their dispensary manager and having to adapt to a new leadership style. The change can be taxing on employee engagement and productivity since new managers tend to shift direction and introduce new models of operation.

Whether bringing on a new manager from the outside or promoting a manager from within the organization, it is critical to invest the time and resources to develop them so they can set the right direction for the team, influence engagement and promote the company’s values and culture.

What New Dispensary Managers Want & Need to Succeed

Think back to your first day of work, or talk to someone who has recently joined a new organization or group, and most likely you’ll hear similar thoughts about what new dispensary employees want.

Most people want to feel welcome and hope their onboarding experience is personalized to meet their needs. Make it about me, guide me through my workspace tools and applications, provide me with the guidance I need to succeed as a dispensary manager in my new position, help me get to know my key stakeholders, and create a clear map of leadership success behaviors.

A well-designed onboarding process that takes into consideration new dispensary managers’ needs and specific measures of success at the operational, leadership, cultural, and organizational levels. How can talent development leaders make the company’s brand a focal point in the new manager experience? How can you bring into perspective a memorable experience? How can you influence the long-term retention of emerging managers?

The Leader’s Role in Dispensary Onboarding

Gallup research found that managers are accountable for 70 percent of employee engagement variance. A study of more than 7,200 U.S. adults concluded that half of the employees leave their jobs to get away from their managers.

Most of us agree, then, that leaders – the new dispensary manager’s manager – have a significant influence on retention, including during the onboarding experience. It starts with clear communication of managing expectations. Building a relationship with a new manager is imperative to his success and his ability to acclimate to a new role with confidence and trust.

In addition to feeling valued and engaged, research suggests that creating the connection is vital to new managers leading their team in the right direction through succinct goals and action plans. And while all forms of communication are effective, Gallup reports that managers who promote transparency, clarity, and safe communication are the most successful at influencing the new manager experience. Influential leaders plan time to meet with their new employees, get to know them, and ultimately promote an environment of safety, trust, and open communication.

Building a genuine leader-manager relationship also will likely influence the new or promoted manager’s integration into the role, which ultimately influences her decision to stay. Unfortunately, this is not a common practice. According to Harvard Business Review, a survey of 588 executives at the vice president level and above found that less than one-third received any meaningful support during their onboarding process. Around 60 percent reported that it took them more than six (6) months to have a full impact on their new roles. That certainly is a big miss in productivity.

Leaders should not underestimate the power of their role in onboarding new dispensary managers to a place of influence and integration. Leaders, in general, agree with research that reveals that when employees are happy, they are more likely to stay, more eager to influence the customer experience, and more likely to promote a healthy culture and exhibit collaborative behaviors.

A new manager’s manager has the most significant influence on those outcomes and a memorable and effective program boils down to five (5) key ingredients, it can be remembered easily with the acronym CAMPS:

Connect. Create a connection with the new or promoted manager before and throughout the first 90 days. This is one of those defining practices that bring relief to new managers because it alleviates the stress of knowing what to expect throughout the onboarding process.

Align. Select a mentor to support the dispensary manager’s onboarding process. Ensure the buddy is vested in the right leadership behaviors. Train the buddy to provide support to the new manager and to help him acclimate to a new culture. Increase buddy awareness about different styles in the workplace, emotional intelligence, influence, and trust.

Manage. Schedule time to meet with the new manager on day one and plan to connect daily for optimal results. Share your vision, values, and expectations. Discuss pertinent challenges and design a personalized development plan. Hire an external coach or work with an internal one to support the new dispensary manager’s integration into the new role.

Plan. Plan weekly milestones with the new manager and buddy. Schedule meetings and shadowing moments with key stakeholders. Incorporate strategic discussions into the process. Assess progress using reliable technological solutions. Incorporate career development discussions early in the process.

Streamline. Track the new manager’s weekly milestones and progress of the development plan. Integrate feedback loops and “wow” moments into the process, such as a welcome gift, lunch with peers, a “day with my manager,” introduction in management meetings, or a surprise visit from a senior leader. These small wins create long-term value for new managers.

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