Guest Post by Todd Wheeler, Management Insight

Cannabis Industry Culture: Reactive vs. Proactive Practices

Featured 5 min

What is organizational culture? How can culture affect the business bottom line? How does a company’s culture affect customer experience? How does it affect productivity? When should a company start thinking about its culture?

Operating in a constant state of reactivity to changing conditions will negatively impact the bottom line, by affecting staff productivity and focus and the organization’s ability to achieve goals. If you knew the solution was to change the culture, why would you continue to sabotage yourself, when all you have to do is create a change in the culture? So, when should a cannabis company start thinking about its culture? Sooner, not later!

For example, the cannabis industry in the US is directly influenced by OSHA and must comply with OSHA Standards. So a company that intentionally attempts to set and achieve OSHA standards will have fewer accidents, fewer fines, fewer employees calling out sick; and when cannabis is legalized federally, they will already be prepared because they have been working to those standards all along. Trying to “get away with things” has never worked out as a long-term strategy.

Why would you not strive to meet a federal standard, when you know eventually that is the goal of the industry and the regulations? It is the same when it comes to running your organization. Why would you not strive to optimize your bottom line while meeting your organizational goals? Creating a supportive, scalable and sustainable culture for your organization begins with creating a culture of connectivity, community and support at the management level.

How can you diagnose and assess your organizational culture? 

In order to assess the current nature of the culture, it is important to observe the impacts of the interactions between employees and customers, employees and management, and among employees. You can ask yourself the following questions to acquire a good indication of your company’s culture:

Your Team: Does your team have appropriate and consistent communication internally? Does each employee understand their roles and responsibilities? How often do employees quit or get fired (turnover)? How often do employees make complaints about other employees or management? How is that handled? Are people encouraged to speak freely without fear of reprisal? Do your people “bury their heads in the sand” and wait for things to blow over? Is your management team setting the right example for the employees? Do they have access to the tools, resources and training required to fulfill their responsibilities?

Your Customers: How often do you receive complaints about the staff? Is your customer base willing to recommend your product? What does it feel like to interact with your staff?

Your Community: Are you good corporate citizens? Do you care, and how does your organization demonstrate that it cares to your community and neighborhood?

When organizations employ strategic tactics to anticipate the changing needs of the market, and create a good company culture, they tend to gain success as they mature. In the cannabis industry, it is relatively common for companies to experience a high turn-over rate. This cuts into the business’s bottom line. A company that is reactively recruiting, hiring and training will always be diverting resources to new hires, which costs more than having consistent, loyal employees who advance through the company.

Members of all generations need a M.A.P.
M=Mastery. Give people the opportunity to be masters of their universe. Provide the tools and resources to truly Master their roles, responsibilities, and their trade.
A=Autonomy. Again, give people the tools and resources to truly be their best. Teach them in the way they learn best. Coach vs. lecture, etc.
P=Purpose. What’s the WHY behind our company and our job, and does our job contribute to the Organization, its Objectives and desired Outcomes?

Autonomy is a major characteristic of a team that can function productively and proactively. Millennials, especially, thrive under a culture that promotes and supports autonomy. Autonomy is the freedom to act independently of others, with and without specific direction. Autonomy requires communication and alignment with the team.

In other words, one hand needs to always be aware of what the other is doing, even when they are not involved in the same task. Seek out the members of the team who are always updating and communicating and making independent decisions; those are your Autonomy leaders. Your team will increase its functionality and productivity when you have naturally autonomous people in management roles.

Your reputation as a brand is based on your integrity. Providing employees with a good corporate culture decreases turn-over and employee absence, increases employee brand loyalty and promotion, increases productivity, and creates the best experience for the customer. All of these factors will positively affect the bottom line.


Todd Wheeler founded Management Insight to help CEOs, leadership and teams create healthier and more effective organizations. Learn more at or schedule a complimentary GPS consultation to learn more about how Todd can help your cannabis organization excel.