Pharmacy school taught you the art of medicine, now it's time for the art of dealing with your staff.
Remember that class in pharmacy school about how to be an effective manager? No? Neither do I.
Typically, pharmacists have very little (if any) real training for the demands of managing a pharmacy. While pharmacy school does a great job preparing us for clinical questions related to drug therapy, there’s typically no course on the basic skills and habits needed to be a real-life manager.
I have been in pharmacy management and leadership roles for 20 years. While it is impossible to condense down all I have learned into a brief article, here is some advice I have for every pharmacy manager.
Learn New Skills
In your role as manager you will learn a lot of your responsibilities on the fly. These may include reporting, scheduling, conference calls, annual reviews, inventories, audits, and corrective actions. Take each of these responsibilities as they come and begin to work them into a management routine.
If I failed in one area early on in my pharmacy management career, it was this. I wanted to do it all myself. But delegation shows you trust your team, allows others to contribute, and is a useful way to determine who your star performers are. Be clear when you delegate, and follow up.
This can be very hard in certain pharmacy settings, like retail. Scheduling doesn’t typically provide much room for sit-down conversations. But I assure you that even brief, well-planned, regular one-on-ones with your team will prevent and solve more problems-and will also position you as a great leader.
Measure Your Team’s Success
Some things, like employee or patient satisfaction, are less tangible than others. But most of the metrics that constitute a well-run pharmacy can be measured in some way. How many prescriptions were transferred out versus in this month? What was your average prescription volume? Determine the most critical performance indicators for your business and start to track them.
Management is about much more than getting certain things done. You are a leader. And leaders build great relationships both internally and externally. You should get to know the community you serve in, get to know key stakeholders within your company and in the area you work, visit local doctors, and develop great opportunities for collaboration with them.
Inspire Others to Excel.
Pharmacy can be a draining, exhausting, and sometimes frustrating profession. As a manager, people will look to you as the one who sets the emotional tone for the pharmacy. Are you constantly complaining, grumpy, and angry? Expect the staff to be the same. But if you focus on the positive, give praise, aim high, and remind everyone that you are involved in an important work, then the mood of the pharmacy will improve. Positive attitudes tend to be more productive as well.
Find a Mentor.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, get a mentor. Find someone, ideally within the organization, who has been a model manager and leader. Ask them to serve as a mentor and bounce questions and scenarios off of them on a regular basis. Be respectful of their time, but don’t be too shy either. Learn from them and your pharmacy management career will develop rapidly.