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Are you going to survive or thrive in our revolution?

Community Pharmacy gets a bad wrap sometimes.

It also gets thrown around like it’s at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to status within the pharmacy profession and quite frankly, this frustrates me. Like many others who work in this space, I don’t like my chosen area of practice or my profession degraded. I also hate when some colleagues realise a pharmacist is practising within the community pharmacy space and ask “oh, so what area of practice do you want to do next?” like it’s a given that they’re just itching to jump ship.

While of course, some people are looking to diversify within their career for various reasons (which is fine!), others want to stay where they are and love the essence of community pharmacy. But, regardless of whether pharmacists want to stay, go, or do both, one thing I think we can agree on is that Community Pharmacists play a vital role in primary healthcare and without them, our communities would be lost. The flipside to this is that few people can agree on how we support this vital role financially, professionally and logistically while keeping it a viable enterprise for businesses as well.

Whether you believe it or not, the revolution is here.

When I step back, I think that Community Pharmacy is in the middle of a revolution. People are restless, they want to challenge the status quo and rightly so. They are rising up to push the boundaries of our scope of practice, how we are remunerated and also challenging current business models. This in itself is good! These people who lead the charge are the ones that make us question the way we have always done things. They shine lights on blind spots and dark corners where we would prefer not to look. This creates disruption which leads to growth. The major problem I see with this however is that the undertone of this revolution is built on putting a divide between business owners and pharmacist employees rather than bringing us together.

This isn’t going to solve anything.

So, how do we move forward? I don’t have all the answers, quite frankly, no single person does. We all own a piece of the truth and the reality that community pharmacy faces. What I do know is that we all have a responsibility to equip ourselves, our workplaces and our profession as a whole appropriately for this revolution.

For this revolution, we aren’t going artillery and amour, what we will need are the skills to bring everyone to the table to have robust conversations with open minds and open hearts.

If you think you’re going to be immune from this revolution, think again. Look around at the sky-rocketing pharmacist shortage, the level of job dissatisfaction, burnout and the discussions happening on any social media platform. It may not be spoken of within your four walls, but if you are struggling with any of these or are aware of them, you’re in it. Not equipping yourself and your employees with the tools to not only survive but thrive while the battle is waging is for the naïve or the fool-hardy.

The most critical piece of the puzzle

Research shows that emotional intelligence is the most critical ability to possess, above other soft skills and functional excellence.

It’s the behaviours that underpin emotional intelligence that will equip us to protect our workforce and our businesses through this revolution. Simply put, we need as many stakeholders as possible to:

  • Understand what they stand for and the impact their actions have on others.
  • Manage their emotions and their actions when met with a conflicting opinion. We need people to lean in to further understand a new perspective, rather than bristle or shutdown.
  • Appreciate another’s perspective and present their side of the debate in a way that will be understood and heard by others.
  • Support each other through this period and beyond. We need to give constructive feedback and help others to show up in this revolution with their own purpose and contribute in a productive way. We need an army and one that doesn’t cause damage through friendly fire.

While writing this, I already hear people saying, ‘I’m entitled to give my opinion and it’s others’ problem how it lands for them.’ Yes, you are correct. You can’t control how everything that you communicate will be received. But, if we go through this revolution not worried about how our message will land, it will never be heard.

Science shows that when we’re met with unpleasant emotions, we shut down, we make assumptions, we react and we blame. If however, we can foster relationships within our businesses and beyond that fill people with purpose, empowerment and value, we set everyone up to engage, focus on the solution and innovate.  

What are you going to do?

So my question to you is, what are you doing to make sure you thrive through the revolution? What are you doing to build the emotional intelligence of yourself and others?  If you’re an owner or a BDM, how are you supporting your staff to navigate this revolution so we retain pharmacists in community pharmacies? If you’re an employee, how are you supporting owners and showing them what’s needed to make our vital roles sustainable?

Your words matter, your actions matter and what is left unsaid matters. This is why I am passionate about bringing the conversation about emotionally intelligent leadership in pharmacy to the forefront. Yes, it’s one piece of the puzzle but it’s a huge one and the one that will act as the link for the rest.

If you want to continue this conversation or would like to know how TURN Pharmacy Leadership can help you, your staff and your business thrive, contact me.

If you would like to know more about how EI leadership development is the key to your growth, satisfaction and sustainability.
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