How to Build (and keep) the Best Pharmacy Team

When I was a kid, my family and I went to pick strawberries at a local farm. I’m not exactly sure how old I was, but I was short enough to think the rows of hedges felt like a labyrinth and young enough that I was only interested in following my older brother around and most likely irritating him to no end. As we turned a corner we came face to face with something I’d never seen up close and personal before. My brother leaned down and whispered in my ear to be very still and quiet, because we’d just encountered a man eating bird.

Moments later, after I’d run screaming across the field to my mom, I was informed that what I’d actually come across was a very large turkey.

Now, all these years later, I feel at least a bit vindicated, because it turns out there is actually a kind of turkey that’s as menacing as I first believed them to be.

Not the kind of turkey that you roast and put on your table for Thanksgiving dinner. But the turkey that lurks in businesses, hampering productivity and negatively impacting company culture.

Business Coach and CPA John Marshall defines a “turkey” as an employee you would not hire again given the chance. You can likely walk around your pharmacy and easily identify the turkeys if you have them. Turkeys just don’t fit in. They drag everyone down, create a substandard customer experience, and they can even drive away your star employees.

Addressing the turkey issue isn’t easy, but you’ll never regret it once you do. However, today’s labor market means you might not always be able to boot the turkeys right away. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with an unhealthy pharmacy team. What it does mean, is that you need to take extra care to focus on your company culture and doing everything you can to keep your best employees happy. (And maybe attract some new amazing talent!)

First, let’s talk about why it’s important to focus on employee longevity and keeping your A-team happy. There are many different reasons, but here are three big ones for you to consider:

  • Customer experience is primarily defined by your employees.  How they interact, the service they provide, and the consistency they offer. Employees that aren’t invested in your pharmacy mission won’t invest in relationships with your customers. And high turnover means your customers don’t develop a relationship with your team, or your business.  In short, no employee loyalty equals no customer loyalty.
  • Autonomy only comes with experience and trust. How many days have you worked when you didn’t intend to because one of your best employees was out? Or because you just didn’t have someone you trusted to take the reigns. When you build longevity with a great pharmacy team, you also build autonomy into that team. Meaning that you don’t have to micro manage or try to do everything yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of having a pharmacy team that can operate without you or other pharmacy managers.
  • Employees are your most valuable asset. Turkey’s aside, the investment you make in your employees is huge and needs to be protected. All of the reasons listed above, combined with the fact that attracting and training new employees is expensive, mean that you’re losing out big if your turnover is high.

Now that we’ve covered the why, let’s dive into the how.

  • Employee wellness – Employee wellness is a key initiative for pharmacy leadership to undertake. There’s no one size fits all to employee wellness programs but there are best practices to consider and inspiration to be drawn from pharmacy industry leaders. Employee wellness spans from open communication to exercise programs, food, flexibility, recognition and more.  Check out this presentation from Business Coach Emily Cannata on some of the things you can do to create your own Employee Wellness program.
  • Company culture – Culture may seem like an offshoot of wellness, but it takes a more top down approach. Building culture is certainly about open communication and giving employees time to do what’s important in their life outside of work. Culture is also about your mission statement and how it impacts every decision you make in your pharmacy business. (i.e. transparency.)  Team building is another huge part of creating a solid, healthy company culture. During a talk with pharmacy owner Joe Daugherty, we learned about the company events that are held twice a year to bring the team together for fun and relationship building.
  • Tools and training- The tools you use in your pharmacy aren’t just an investment in more efficient inventory practices, or adherence to regulation. Investments made in technology to help your team perform their jobs better and with fewer unnecessary steps show employees just how valuable they are.  Plus, in an era where people are leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers, anything you can do to reduce frustration and busy work is a plus. Equally important is training. Make sure that your team members feel confident in their roles and that qualified trainers are showing them how to use the tools at their disposal.
  • Feedback and reviews – Small businesses may not be able to offer exponential growth or promotions. That does not mean that employees should feel stuck. Regular employee reviews can help you understand an employee’s personal and professional goals, enabling you to help them grow in their current role and feel fulfilled in their job.