A happy, motivated team is the backbone of any pharmacy business. Deborah Evans shares her tips on how to lead your team to success

In February 2017, my blog for The Pharmacist looked at the importance of investing in your pharmacy team despite the very challenging times facing the community pharmacy industry. It may seem counterintuitive to spend more and not less in the climate financial climate — but investing in your team’s development is critical to your success.

Done in a committed and sustained way, employee engagement, training and development can provide a company with a considerable return on its investment. People are usually the biggest asset an organisation has, especially in those businesses that provide a service and rely on their reputation, such as community pharmacy. People are also one of your biggest costs and so getting the best return from your investment in them is essential to success.

There is no doubt that in these times of having to achieve more with less, getting the best from those who work in pharmacy has never been more important.

The MacLeod report outlines the strong evidence for how employee engagement can create the right conditions for employees to offer more of their capability and potential at work. Great engagement is based on trust, integrity, two-way commitment and communication between the business and those who work for it. As an approach, it increases the chances of business success, productivity and wellbeing. However, none of this happens by chance.


Taking the lead


The Corporate Leadership Council estimates that employees working for good leaders put in 57% more effort and are 87% less likely to leave than those with poor leaders.

As pharmacies face hard times, employees are looking to their leaders to provide clear direction. Employees are feeling more discouraged as they see their benefits cut, co-workers leave and the overall health of their organisations decline. If leadership within the organisation is weak, employee morale plunges and performance will follow. Your role as a leader is crucial.

Successful leaders looking for growth, especially in difficult times, look to their people. They create great employment conditions, engagement opportunities and reward the right behaviours. Incentives that work are based on outcomes, showing initiative, providing great customer experience and delivery.

While it is necessary for you to be a supportive and encouraging leader during uncertain times, it’s even more vital to identify which of your team members are up for the challenge. Keep your high-performing employees engaged and ensure that they are involved in any process changes. Communicate that they’re important to the future of the company and that you value their input. You will also need to deal appropriately with underperformance.


Be a team player


Work with your team to understand what they want to know, involving them in the business challenges and potential solutions. Keeping employees informed will go a long way towards keeping them engaged. Too much silence leads to rumour and speculation. Better to be transparent and tell it like it is, and overall keep the message focused on the positive and the future. Your employees will reward you by working harder and getting your pharmacy through these tough times if you keep them focused on creating a brighter future together.

Empower and stretch them, but with proportionate support. Now is the time to invest in appropriate training. Develop your team to allow you to spend more time leading the business and looking at opportunities for growth. Look at how the dispensary can be managed and run by registered pharmacy technicians, accuracy checking technicians and dispensing assistants, releasing you for remunerated clinical services such as medicines use reviews (MURs), the new medicine service (NMS), commissioned and private services.

Empower your healthy living pharmacy (HLP) health champions to run the health promotional campaigns and see these as an opportunity to promote your services to the community, linking retail sales to activities. Don’t stop with the basic training — developed health champions can deliver many public health services and connect with others in the community.

We know it can be overwhelming to know where to start, particularly when you are struggling to find time to do the basics, let alone look ahead. However, taking time to be on your business rather than always in your business and thinking strategically will be critical to your success. Forward-thinking pharmacies are looking at their skill mix and linking this to their business and growth strategy. Once you know your business priorities, your capability plan should follow.



Top to-do list for team motivation


  • Do communicate with your team frequently. Speaking often and openly with the whole team will give them the opportunity to raise concerns or offer suggestions on how the business could be run
    more efficiently.
  • Do show your team how much you appreciate their hard work. Praise should be given for small as well as large tasks to ensure each team member knows the value you
    place on their role.
  • Do think about the skill mix in your pharmacy and hire new employees accordingly. Is there space in your pharmacy for someone more creatively minded or should you be looking for a more logical thinker?
  • Do look for ways to challenge and stretch your team where appropriate. Look for team members who are performing consistently well and think of extra responsibilities you could hand over to them.
  • Do be transparent with your team about how the business is doing. They will feel more involved.
  • Do invest in training where possible. Investing in your employees will pay dividends in the future.


Deborah Evans is managing director of Pharmacy Complete, a pharmacy business and training consultancy