Unfortunately there is no exact formula to achieve effective leadership. As your business grows, you will also grow and evolve as a manager and leader. That is part of the practice. Leadership is an art, not a science. Whereas management is considered a bit of both.
Pharmacy, unlike other clinical environments, has a constant flow of customers coming through the door without notice. You never know who you are going to get, and what they need. We hear you; it’s exhausting! You already have so much to do, and there is already a million things on your plate. So where should you start with turning theory into practice? If there is anything you should take away from this it is that people are your business. You business depends on people in a variety of ways; customers, staff, advisors, suppliers and the list goes on.
The most successful businesses are built by the team, not the owner. Your team is the most valuable asset you have at your disposal. And when we say team, we are referring to every person who has a role in the business or contributes to the business.
Take, for example, the cleaner. The difference between a cleaner who is happy and empowered versus one that isn’t is the difference between clean premises or one where people can’t wait to get out of there! Have you ever taken a road trip and come across a road house with really good toilets versus one that you don’t want to touch the door? You always remember the good pit stops and avoid the bad ones! How often have you said ‘we will never stop here again because the toilets are terrible’? If you think about leadership and management in this way, the concept is quite simple and meaningful.
Of course, there are always going to be challenges when you have a team of people your business relies upon. We never said it was easy! Being the best manager and leader you can be will take effort and time. Pharmacy is no different in that respect to any other business. Ultimately people want to feel like their work contributes to something of value, and that you value what they do for the business. If you value the cleaner, you will have a sparkling space. Let’s think about what we mean by value:
Establish a solid team
have the right people, with the right skills, in the right roles. If you don’t, focus on what you can change and set time frames for changing it. Top tip: Not all roles fit all people, and not all people are the right fit for an organization. Non-technical attributes are equally important as technical attributes. Set values for the business, yourself and your people. Think about the types of attributes (trust, honesty, reliability, etc) that you want the team to have, display them, and hold yourself and the team to account against those. Spend 10 minutes reflecting at the end of the day on what went well, and what could be improved. It’s important to debrief with the team. This simple but effective approach is why the military works so well. It is not every man for himself on the battle field. That’s how wars are lost.
Invest in your people
investment is not just about pharmacy courses. Build relationships with your staff and nurture their learning and development; personally, and professionally. Top tip: Investment is more than money. In fact the best investments may cost nothing. It may just be giving your team time to debrief on a matter, and providing guidance on managing a difficult situation. Empowerment can pay significant dividends.
Invest in yourself
Self-reflection, without judgement, is one of the most difficult things to do. Pharmacists are trained and highly skilled in the study of medicines; there is very little training in your original degree on management and leadership (otherwise you would have been in the business faculty!). Yet you are in the people business, relying on people to make your business a success. Top tip: focus your learning on things you don’t know; enroll in management and leadership studies. Make it a priority on your learning plan. It all counts as CPD!
And here’s a challenge; ask your team to reflect on you. Performance management should always go multiple ways. It is common practice in the corporate sector to have your team members to reflect on your performance as a manager or superior. While it can be a challenging process, it can contribute to your personal and professional growth. Looking through someone else’s lens is always valuable. How we see ourselves is often quite different to how others perceive us. Even if you don’t quite now what to do with the feedback, starting the process of asking others how they see you is a start. Keep an open mind!
if you own a business, the responsibility of management and leadership comes with the role. You can’t avoid it. Top tip: Recognize when you need help, however small or large, and seek it.
Social Media: do I really need to do it?
Yes you do! We can hear the sigh. At times, the amount of information and stimulation that comes with today’s world and technology is overwhelming. However, this is where our people are getting their information from. The world has changed. How people engaged has changed. How often to you do some level of online research before you shop? Even if you choose to go into the physical store, chances are you have likely looked for information on the product and or service before you leave the house.
Even in the world of health things are changing, data is becoming more transparent. We have seen shifts in government policy to make data more transparent than ever before in an attempt to revive informed consumer choice and consent. It is shifting the power back to the consumer. Recent examples are the Medical Costs Finder and Your IVF Success Estimator websites. Overarchingly consumers are calling for access to what is theirs… data… to make informed decisions in today’s world of modern technology.
As businesses, you have modern tools at your disposal. Gone are the days you would need to develop posters, print and letter box drop! So therein lies a challenge; which tool should you chose and why? The message is simple and clear. Don’t try and do everything. You can’t and you won’t succeed. If you were to walk into the pharmacy tomorrow what should you do:
who is the most tech savvy person in the team? Identify them, and empower them with a new responsibility; the social media champion.
Give the champion only a couple of small tasks to start off with. Ask them to generate some content ideas. Ask them to present three ideas within a set time frame, e.g. two days. Don’t provide too many parameters as you want to empower them to be creative. Parameters may limit creativity. Remember you are the medicines experts. Your audience needs to know what you know. Don’t be afraid to share your expertise. Products are a dime a dozen, and there is an abundance of product information available on the internet. Tell people what they don’t know. Show them the true value of a pharmacist!
Look outside of your profession for inspiration. Check out Dr Brad Robinson’s Facebook page for inspiration. Brad is an Obstetrician Gynaecologist in Queensland. His posts generally consisted of showing his work with beautiful pics of happy families with cute babies, and a blend of other things. Lately he has taken to sharing more clinical information on his subject matter; obstetrics and gynaecology, and the engagement on those posts are significant. Sharing beyond his consulting room on what he knows best is proving popular with his followers. His recent posts include content on fibroids, GBS and placental marginal cord insertion. And there are pics and all! Don’t underestimate the value of your expertise.
Ask the champion to create a quick poll of customers to ascertain which platforms your customers mostly use. This could be done and collected at the point of sale, e.g. have the pharmacy assistant ask the question and hand record tally marks on a sheet. It does not need to be fancy.
Create once, distribute widely. Don’t create content on each platform. Always use one social media management platform that you can send to multiple places via one click. This is the most efficient way.
Evaluate and change
Have the social media champion report regularly. Support them to change things up. Don’t continue with things that aren’t working. Make sure the evaluation includes not only data on engagement, but also includes sales figures that link to the content of posts. Questions should be wide ranging in terms of how you evaluate success.
Written by Caroline Khalil