Set and communicate your goals: Taking time to articulate for yourself and your staff what you want to accomplish over the next 3 months to 3 years can eliminate much unnecessary conflict and wasted effort in a pharmacy. Share your vision—do you want to offer new services, open another location, align more closely with community providers? If your staff know your plans and understand their role in your future vision, they can offer valuable ideas and tremendous energy to help you achieve them. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to push forward alone or encounter resistance to changes presented without context.

Show appreciation: “For the most part, people work much harder and better under an umbrella of appreciation than a thunderstorm of criticism,” says Jason Poquette of The Honest Apothecary. Look for reasons to express your thanks. Consider an employee of the month award or, better yet, handwrite the occasional thank you note to a staff member who does something notable or one who consistently solves problems and keeps your operations running smoothly.

Know your team: Spend time talking with your employees to understand their career goals and personal strengths. Shuffle job responsibilities based on what each person does best and tailor training to shore up weaknesses or provide skills needed for advancement. Then, “Support staff to help themselves, by giving them the time and resources to grow into a new role,” advises Ailsa Colquhoun of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

Delegate: Part of encouraging growth in your team is delegating some responsibilities to them. Delegation does require some time and effort, but it pays rewards in time freed for activities that need your personal attention and improved operations. It can also boost staff satisfaction, if done properly. Good practices for delegation include clear communication about the job, training in how to do it, provision of support or resources needed, agreement on how to record or report completion, and clarity around deadlines. For multiple tasks, ensure the person doing them understands your priorities. “Managers can view delegation as a learning and development opportunity for themselves as well—delegation is a fundamental leadership capability,” says Megan Haggan in an article on the website

Promote teamwork: Open discussions and surveys can identify issues that impair safety or productivity, identify solutions and motivate staff. The Proactive Risk Monitoring for Organisational Learning (PRIMO) questionnaire helped Tomasz Niebudek determine the key issues in accurate dispensing and solutions that addressed previously known problems as well as near misses. “The fact that the ideas were generated by the staff themselves made a huge difference,” he says.

Stay cool: Strong leaders keep themselves under control even when stressful situations arise. “As a manager, it’s not your job to make sure things run perfectly, but rather that the team learns from the problems we encounter,” advises Poquette. Mistakes happen. Keep calm and show employees, customers, and others that you can be trusted to consider their perspective and work toward a solution.

Take time for yourself: “We do know that community pharmacists may be likely to experience lower job satisfaction and higher rates of burnout compared with pharmacists practicing in other environments,” according to Mary Bridgeman, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, and Patrick Bridgeman, Jr., PharmD. Make building resilience a nonnegotiable part of your daily life. The American Pharmacists Association recommends four steps to combatting burnout and continuing to gain satisfaction from pharmacy work: staying socially active, maintaining strong family relationships, cultivating a positive self-image, and maintaining physical health through good diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise.

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