Elixinol’s vice president of marketing and communications, Chris Husong, is a branding and marketing expert with more than 20 years of experience in regulated industries such as telecom and finance.
At Elixinol, Husong has applied those skills to the health and wellness space. He’s been with the global hemp and CBD oil brand since 2015.
Husong shared his best team-building tips this year at the NoCo Hemp Expo in Denver. We pulled out some of his key takeaways:
Working together in groups, we get a lot more absorption of information. We are a lot more effective. Things get done when we work in teams.
When we start to do things solo, we get over it. We get overwhelmed. We slow down. We forget things. And it’s that team/group dynamic that I really started to concentrate on at Elixinol.
Meet regularly: If we’re meeting regularly, it’s much harder to talk trash about co-workers. For us, our marketing and sales teams are run out of San Diego, (but) our entire operations team is here in Colorado—and at times that causes tension, right?
It’s easy to think the sales team is just sitting on the beach all day long, while we’re working in -20 degree weather. Those are the types of things that people build in their mind when they don’t have face-to-face interaction.
We use technology to help bridge those gaps. We use Skype, we use RingCentral, we use Teams, we use Microsoft 365 to connect everybody through chat. We use Slack—all these different tools to make sure that people are connected on a daily basis.
Hire Leaders, Not Managers
A leader is very much different than a manager. I have to create leaders, not managers. … It is people who understand and develop their teammates, who will lead them on a daily basis, who make the biggest difference.
If you’re just somebody pointing your team around and managing a schedule, you’re not inspiring anybody. You’re not going to go take that hill. You’re definitely going to work slower.
Lunch is going to be a lot longer when we’re not working for a leader, and you’re working for a manager.
Trust Those You Hire
The most important part of this whole conversation is trusting who you hire.
I’m very much a proponent of being quick to decide and trust my gut and slow to change my mind. I believe that you know immediately—within that first 35 seconds of talking to that person—if they’re going to be a good match for your company. If they’re going to work hard, we’re going to do a good job.
And I think the next 35 seconds, you try to talk yourself out of that. And if you quit doing that, you get to be a lot more effective at hiring and building great leaders in your teams.
Know Your Employees
Get to know your team. If you don’t know about the kids and the birthdays and anniversaries and the dogs of the people that are working for you, you’re going to be a very ineffective leader.
Going Global Is Difficult
We’re in 42 different countries. So, I’ve got all sorts of different people in different time zones that speak different languages and have different cultures. If you don’t spend time to understand those differences, you’re not going to be very effective.
The way I talk to our partners in Japan is way different than the way I talk to our partners in Brazil. You have to learn the way people talk.
It’s all very different. You have to pay attention to how people interact, how they like to be spoken to, and pay attention to what makes them want to work.
Get Addicted to Feedback
Most people, while the paycheck is important, it means much more than that to come to work every day and have feedback. I am addicted to providing feedback 100% of the time.
People don’t know what you’re thinking. Believe it or not, you are not clear. So, unless you’re connected to your teammates and giving them that feedback and matching it to what they believe, you’re going to be off track.
I guarantee you the people that work for you, the people on your teams, have at times not understood your instructions. For each one of my employees, I have a list of anywhere from 10 to 20 priorities. And each week, we check in on if that’s the way it should be prioritized right now, because it changes.
This speech has been edited for length and clarity.