Turning Around Negative Attitudes in the Pharmacy

You walk into work & see your staff doing their job. But if you were to observe closely, whether it’s working on the line with them or listening in to their conversations, you might start to notice negative attitudes.

Sometimes it comes across as complaining. Sometimes it comes across as a complaint through a joke. However insignificant a negative comment may seem, negative attitudes can breed more negativity. It can start off with one person, and then that person gets the buy-in of another person. And pretty soon your staff has an underlying current of negativity even though they may appear to be doing their job and getting along.

An abundance of negative energy or attitudes can evolve without a specific triggering reason. Other times, it can be linked to stressful work conditions (such as workload increases, or a focus on reasons why things can’t be done and what seems like a lack of hope that things will get better).

There’s a pharmacy I know of that lost a lot of staff in a short period of time. Assessments were done about the existing situation, and recommendations were made by the staff. Months later, the staff were complaining of not seeing much change. The new hires were starting to get “jaded” too.

What can you do about negative attitudes in situations like these? If negative attitudes come from frustration that’s related to lack of hope that things will get better, check in consistently about how people are feeling about the change as the change is implemented. Speak to people individually & as a group, re-assess, implement the decided plan, and check in.

Another way to diffuse negativity is to inspire by how you handle situations. Sometimes as leaders, we may not notice that even saying a side negative comment about how we don’t like how some event happened or point out something that someone did in a negative light (even if it’s not related to your staff or patients), can indirectly give your staff an example that it’s ok to be complaining.

Negative attitudes can permeate staff and even affect the employees that have positive outlooks. It can also affect new hires. New hires can pick up on it, and a culture of “we have no power to change the situation” can start happening.

Acknowledge the negativity. Acknowledge that someone feels upset or dissatisfied about something. Then ask for a solution. Ask what specifically their suggestion is for it. If you feel it’s not a viable solution, share your feelings, and ask for other solutions. This way the person doesn’t feel like you just don’t like their solutions. Of course, if nothing resonates, be honest that you appreciated them putting the thought into the solution, and that although it wouldn’t be used, you invite them to continue making suggestions.

Understandably, it’s not possible to please everyone on your staff…but do what you can to inspire true open communication and hearing them.

3 Simple Ways to Prevent High Pharmacist Turnover at Your IHS Facility

An Indian Health Service site called us recently & requested an experienced IHS contract pharmacist because their permanent pharmacist left unexpectedly. They’ve had trouble keeping the last 2 pharmacists they’ve hired. Each time they went to look for a pharmacist, they were in a crunch. Have you been in that place before, when you had to hire someone because you had a need, and then your new hire didn’t end up staying for long?

What can you do to prevent hires from not working out?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. The best time to look for a new hire is when you don’t need one. That way, you can be making connections without that sense of urgency clouding your judgment. Network with pharmacists you meet at different conferences & trainings –ones that you feel could be a great addition to your team . Talk to them proactively about the possibility of working at your IHS/tribal facility (whether now, or down the road).

2. Ask interview questions that are a little off-beat and give you more insight about what drives your potential pharmacist hire. I went to my first interview last week since I was in pharmacy school (was asked to be a Board member of an organization), and was amazed that I guessed each question they asked me ahead of time. None of the questions offered any element of surprise to test me to answer in a non-prepared, spontaneous way (of course, I do have an unfair advantage from knowing what hiring managers typically ask, compared to other candidates). An example of an off-beat question is “What gets you excited about going to work every day?” or “What do you like to do as a pharmacist where you feel like you are really using your skills & interests?” (well, the latter one may not be as off-beat, but you get the picture…something different than the typical “why do you think you’re good for this position?”)

Aside from a couple of off-beat questions, ask questions that give you more than typical insight about your candidate. Want access to the top 10 pharmacist interview questions to ask, so you can prevent hires who don’t last? Click here now to get instant access to our insider’s interview cheat sheet:

3. Depending on your own goals of how long you want people to stay working at your pharmacy & what roles you need someone for, evaluate them with your needs in mind.

Sometimes you may want someone to work at your pharmacy more than they actually want to. Find out why they are applying—is there a good reason why they are interested in your facility?

Take the person’s own career path into consideration. Are they at a point in their career where this role you’re hiring for fits in well, or do things not really match up? One thing I see is pharmacy directors hiring a pharmacist based on fit and overlooking past behavior, and then being disappointed by their hire leaving within a short time frame.

One example of this is when a candidate seems to be a great fit, but tends to move every few years. If you’re looking for someone to grow longer-term than that with your pharmacy, then put your antennas out for how past behaviors don’t really match up with your needs.

While you’re hiring, if you want access to IHS-experienced temp pharmacists so that your pharmacy doesn’t feel the burden of being short-staffed, click here for your options.