‘It’s essential that people feel safe to speak up.’

What’s the best way to support your pharmacy team during the pandemic? A recent webinar from AJP and PSS provides some valuable advice

This week AJP and the Pharmacists’ Support Service brought you the second webinar in a series hosted by pharmacist and counsellor Helen Lowy, to support pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Ms Lowy started off describing concepts such as anxiety and psychological safety.

“You might be in a place where you feel a sense of fear or anxiety associated with COVID-19… what you might feel is maybe hyper vigilance or it might be difficult to sleep at night,” she explained.

“It might be that you’re feeling a little bit more brittle and reactive, or members of your team might be.

“It’s stressful times, people are thinking about the risks of transmission of the coronavirus – this might put us in a place where we don’t feel quite safe,” said Ms Lowy.

Missed the webinar? Watch the full video here

“But also psychological danger can come through interactions with those in our team. For example, if we feel that we are not respected, or we are belittled in some way, or we’re threatened, then we might feel psychologically unsafe. And then we might fear admitting mistakes, be more inclined to blame others or the system, and less likely to share different views.”

One question was looking at how safe it is to speak up in your pharmacy workplace.

“It’s essential for people to feel safe to speak up,” she said. “We need to spot the cracks early whenever we’re doing things in a new and different way.”

Ms Lowy added that when a team is operating in unchartered territory, such as during the current pandemic, it’s crucial for people to feel safe.

“It’s really important that people can speak up early – so how safe is it to speak up when things are not working well?”

Her suggestions for leaders to ensure teams feel psychologically safe include:

  • Having more flexibility in leadership style by shifting from a ‘command and control’ approach to a more compassionate approach.
  • Transparency about what’s going on.
  • Engaging and empowering the team through framing, humility, inclusion, replacing blame with curiosity, recognition and reward.
  • Providing constructive feedback.

An interactive session allowed viewers to share the important factors that allowed them to feel safe, with commonalities including ‘support’, ‘respect’, ‘understanding’ and ‘trust’.

The remainder of the webinar also looked at pharmacy complaints; building teamwork and trust; self care concepts and more.

This is a brief summary of the webinar. We recommend our readers watch the full webinar here.

Any readers who are distressed can call 1300 244 910 for anonymous and confidential support from a pharmacist colleague over the phone through the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS), available 8am to 11pm EST 365 days of the year.

For urgent assistance when PSS is not available, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For 24/7 confidential incident support for employee and owner pharmacists, members can call PDL on 1300 854 838 Australia wide.

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