The interview – questions never to ask!

While there may be many bits of information you would like to know about a candidate for a position you’re hiring, you need to be extremely cautious in asking certain types of questions.   Some questions, while not technically illegal, could open you up to a discrimination suit.  It’s better to avoid those kinds of questions completely, and find other ways to learn about the candidate. Stay away from any questions on the following subjects: Age Race, ethnicity, or color Gender or sex Country of national origin or birth place Religion Disability Marital or family status or pregnancy Is it helpful to know some of the above information?  Maybe, but better to approach it by asking questions that provide information about their potential job performance.  Here are some examples of questions you can ask, that will help you learn how they might perform. Are you at least 21 years old? Since this is a requirement to work in the industry (assuming they are handling cannabis products), it’s okay to ask. Is there is any reason you could not pass a background check? Okay to ask this if the background check is required for the position. Are you able to fulfill the physical responsibilities of the job? Are you able to occasionally work later hours than scheduled? This may tell you if they have children or other obligations outside work. Are there any days that you cannot work? This may tell you if they have religious affiliations but the real reason to ask it is just that, to find out what kind of schedule they can work. What’s important is to...

The interview – save yourself a future headache and learn all you can!

The employee interview presents the best opportunity for you to find out about a potential employee.  Resumes and/or a completed job application are essential; they give you the nuts and bolts of the person’s education and employment history.  But it’s the interview where you will get the most information about a prospective employee.  Let’s talk about some ways to learn as much as you can about the person before you. First let me say that the interview is not intended for you to tell the applicant all about yourself and your company.  Yes, you need to give basic information about the company and describe the job fully but that should only take up about 20% of the interview.  The rest of the conversation should focus on the person being interviewed.  It is the chance for you to find out what makes this person tick, how they will fit in with your organization, and perhaps most important, what their work ethic is.  The cannabis industry is a place that many people want to work.  It’s perceived to be fun (and it is!), to have “outside the box” fringe benefits (for example, employee discounts) and have a strong future (which of course, it does).  How can you get the most information about this person within a short interview?  By asking questions that will reveal the most about them.  Here are some of the questions I always ask and what they can reveal: How would you describe yourself?  This is another way to say “tell me about yourself” and the hope is you will find out how they perceive themselves, what their...

Hiring right – find your future stars!

I’ve said before that employees are likely your most valuable asset.  Having the right staff is key to the success of your cannabusiness.  Oftentimes they are the first contact that your customer has with your company whether it be on the phone or in person.  It’s crucial that you hire the right people and there are ways to assure that you get the right people the first time, or at least increase the odds. How to find that right person?  Fortunately, the cannabis industry attracts plenty of people.  Some of these people are well qualified, others are not.  Finding the right people requires some work and research on your part. First, let’s talk about hiring that “friend of a friend”.  It happens often, probably even more so in a cannabis business.  A friend or relative says they know someone who would be really great.  You may feel strong pressure to hire them but working with a friend or relative can be tricky.  It’s difficult to have a frank discussion with that person about their performance.  You don’t want to be hampered by concerns that a personal relationship may be compromised if you are honest and forthright with your employee. When getting ready to hire a new staff person, think about the job description and requirements for the position.  Will he/she be working with the public, do you want them to have retail experience, are you willing to train someone who is new to the industry?  If you don’t have these things worked out in your mind or better yet, on paper, the odds decrease that you will make a...

Leadership – How to be badass

When you look back to the leaders who made the greatest impact on you, what was it that held your attention, caused you to wonder how they did what they did?   These are the leaders I call “badass”.  They’re not necessarily a Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon), but the ones in my camp were generally quiet, focused, thoughtful, with an underlying strength that defied expectations.  What makes a badass leader?  Are you born with the qualities or can you develop them?  It’s a little bit of both and it doesn’t happen quickly.  You should shoot for it though, because badass leaders are the ones that the world, whether you define the world as the globe, or your own little business corner, looks to for inspiration and guidance.  So here are some steps to becoming badass, however you define it: Find your competence and expand it. Most of us are competent at something.  If you’re in the cannabis business no doubt you have some knowledge of mj and mj products.  But are you an expert?  If not, become one.  Learn as much as you can, whether it be self-study, mentoring or some combination of both.  You’re also in business, so learn all you can about business (let’s hope that’s why you’re reading this).  Many successful business people don’t have MBAs; many didn’t finish college.  They read, studied and became experts.  Think Michael Dell. Be open to being wrong. Send the message, through your demeanor and your actions, that you’re not afraid to be wrong, and understand that you often are.  If you screw up, admit to it.  When you state...

What’s that whooshing sound?

Is it the sound of your staff meetings, sucking the life out of its attendees?  How was the last staff meeting you attended?  Afterwards were you satisfied that you had learned something and that your time was valued, or was your time and that of others, simply wasted? In one of my former “lives”, the CEO of our company had a meeting of the management team once a week.  It started at 9:00 and ended sometime between 12 and 1 in the afternoon.  There was never an agenda, and often we spent time talking about our favorite teacher in school or what kind of animal we would be if we weren’t human. These meetings were brutal because most of us were working 60+ hours a week and to sit in a 3-4 hour, non-productive meeting was gut-renching.  Our CEO thought he was “team building”, but by the time the meetings were over, most of us were ready to annihilate the team and its captain. How do you avoid this kind of meeting?  How do you make your meetings purposeful and productive while using that time to foster a better working relationship among you and your staff members?  It’s not hard, but it requires a little discipline on the part of the person leading the meeting. Let’s start with scheduling.  Impromptu meetings happen all the time, often out of urgency, and that’s ok.  But if your goal is to relay certain information to, or get feedback from, several people at once, it’s best to schedule meetings in advance and regularly.  That is not to say that you should have a...

Turn your org chart upside down

If you’ve read previous blogs you know that I consider staff to be our most important asset.  In my long career I’ve worked with close to a thousand different employees.  I worked with some of them several times, because as I made career changes, I took them with me and they wanted to come.  It’s not because I paid them better (although I do think it’s important for your staff to be well compensated) but it’s because they knew how much I valued them and I treated them accordingly. The typical organization chart for a business looks something like this, in a very simplified manner:               The support staff report to managers, managers report to owners, and so goes the hierarchy. Generally, the largest number of people are at the bottom and they are doing what some may believe is less important work.   In most cases, although certainly not all, the people at the top of the chart are more experienced, or better educated.  For the most part though, the people at the bottom are doing the bulk of the work. I have a lot of experience in healthcare and have worked with lots and lots of doctors.  In the chart above, the doctors are definitely at the top.  Without question they were the most highly educated of the organization’s members, and usually owned the practice.  No doubt, patients could not be treated without the doctors.  But I would argue that it doesn’t always work in reverse.  Could the doctors take care of patients without their staff?  This is not a commentary on...