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.

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