Building the best team you can


The Capital Chemist Wanniassa team.
The Capital Chemist Wanniassa team.

What makes a good team? We speak with pharmacy owners about how they manage staff

“It takes great leadership to build great teams,” says entrepreneur and corporate executive Glenn Llopis.

“Leaders who are not afraid to course correct, make the difficult decisions and establish standards of performance that are constantly being met – and improving at all times.”

Building a great team culture is not an easy task.

Most of us have had experiences across the spectrum of workplace culture; a positive workplace culture can make going to work a pleasure, while a dysfunctional workplace can make one’s life miserable.

There are different personalities to contend with, varying levels of knowledge and skill amongst staff, stress of high workloads, and more.

Meanwhile thriving work cultures allow staff members to be their best and achieve professional satisfaction. They provide opportunities to not only build positive staff relationships, but friendships too.

We speak with some leaders in pharmacy about the strategies they use to build the best team they can.

Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker
Owner, TerryWhite Chemmart Goondiwindi, QLD
Winner, Guild Pharmacy of the Year 2017

What strategies do you use to build a strong team in your pharmacy?

  • Good communication – i.e. Regular fortnightly team meetings that everyone can be involved and discuss what is happening. Every staff meeting we also talk about good feedback and highlight positive achievements among the staff members.
  • Clear and fair expectations – KPIs, break times, tasks.
  • Understanding each other’s roles and have a plan/priority what needs to get done for the day.
  • Work to each team members’ strengths (whether its sales, invoicing, champion areas). It’s important to surround yourself with people better than you!
  • Having traditions is great too – we make sure to celebrate people’s birthdays and give our staff culture that ‘personal touch’.

What kinds of challenges can pharmacists face when it comes to staff relationships?

  • We are not trained on human resources areas at university – so it’s handy to have the Pharmacy Guild HR to ask questions to.
  • We can be busy focusing on customers in the store not necessarily the relationships with other staff members.
  • There can be an ‘us and them’ mentality (between dispensary and FOS staff members – hence I don’t have that structure).

Elise Apolloni
Managing Partner, Capital Chemist Wanniassa, ACT
Winner, PSA Young Pharmacist of the Year 2017 & Pharmacy of the Year award for Professional Innovation

What strategies do you use to build a strong team in your pharmacy?

  • We build our business vision and values with our team, not for them.
  • We share information – both good and not so good, so our team members feel invested and knowledgeable about how we are performing.
  • We encourage individual and team growth and success, and celebrate each team member for achieving their own personal goals as well as team goals – we treat every member of our team like family. They are our “pharmacy family” and given that we often spend more time with our pharmacy family than our actual family, we want that time to be fun, inspiring and enriching for our business all at the same time.
  • We regularly have performance meetings to see if can help our team members reach their own goals better. We also have Pharmspiration meetings so our team members can contribute ideas and it is a chance to inspire each other! Having the ability to influence how your workplace directs their efforts or what projects to focus on is very empowering for our team.
  • We also make time to have fun together outside work – dinners, wine tours, ice-cream trips (yes, all very food-orientated) are great for team morale.

What kinds of challenges can pharmacists face when it comes to staff relationships?

  • People can be the trickiest part of our job – how to read people, motivate them, recognise individual strengths in different people and find roles to challenge and inspire different people different ways. Given we treat our team like family, our pharmacy family can have disruptions or difficulties from time to time, but families stick together through thick and thin.
  • I suppose in terms of challenges, not every person is someone we will get along with all the time, but I like to look at different people and think about what lessons and value each individual can teach me as a person- some might teach you patience or respect for different learning styles or emotional intelligence- in any instance, variety is what makes the world interesting and we celebrate that as much as we can!

Jarrod McMaugh
Managing Partner, Capital Chemist Coburg North, Vic
Vice President, PSA Victoria

What strategies do you use to build a strong team in your pharmacy?

  • You have to have the right personality types for the different roles in the pharmacy – it’s no good having an analytical person doing a customer service job, or an extroverted people-person doing stock management. Being able to identify this is important. Just as important is being able to move people to the role best suited to their personality diplomatically.
  • Culture change needs a champion to drive it. For instance, professional services have taken off in my pharmacy because our professional services pharmacist is very motivated. Our dispensary runs extremely smoothly because the PIC knows everything that is happening (you can ask him if we have stock of something and get a quicker response than if you looked it up in POS).

What kinds of challenges can pharmacists face when it comes to staff relationships?

  • Making changes can be difficult, but it has to be acted upon as soon as it is clear that change needs to happen. I needed to reduce overtime, but I delayed in the hopes that I could reduce costs elsewhere. In the end, I still had to make the change, and there are still some staff who feel that this was a punishment rather than a rational business decision to ensure everyone would still be employed in the long run. This is a sign to me that I still have to work on getting it right as well.
  • It can be tempting to spend all your time addressing poor performance, but this is usually a losing battle. Instead of constantly paying attention to those staff who are not pulling their weight, spend time and attention on those staff who are performing well.

What are your pharmacy management tips and tricks? Share them below!

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