Five leadership tips for managing challenging staff

Career Manager By Reagan A. Williams, PharmD

It is always challenging for me to manage technicians who are older than me or that perceive they have more experience than I do. It is a delicate balance between being kind and understanding while also being authoritative and commanding respect. How can you make your pharmacy team function on a higher level? And how do you overcome the roadblocks when not everyone in the pharmacy wants to be a team player?

Most workplaces will already have responsibilities and job duties defined and a system of handling bad behavior. But most workplaces don’t have instructions in place on how to be a strong leader. Here are some leadership tips that might help if you are in a situation where you need to be the positive example and are expected to lead a problematic staff.

1. Clearly communicate responsibilities and consequences
Each day will come with its own set of tasks that need to get done. Upon arrival, I like to ask the team, “What needs to be accomplished today?” Hopefully I will get responses, but if not, I have a list ready to go. I also allow each member the option to choose which task they would like to complete. I have found that giving techs a choice in what task they complete allows them to take ownership over the duty—less complaining occurs and tasks are completed more efficiently.

2. Acknowledge and reward good behavior
Yes, I am talking about the “good jobs” and the “high-fives.” It doesn’t seem like much, but it is. Verbally recognizing in front of the whole team when a member goes above and beyond is not only great for the person receiving the praise, but for the rest of the team, too. It lets your team know what you value as good behavior.

And while I wish I could give monetary rewards for a job well done, that isn’t always feasible or allowed. So instead, I get donuts. If the team works well together and has a good Saturday, it means we get to have a donut party on Sunday. It truly is the little things that can mean so much.     

3. Reprimand behind closed doors
It is not fun, but sometimes the only way to correct behavior is to reprimand. This should always be done in private. Provide the team member with the specific instance of the poor conduct, especially if you have to wait to talk to them. If you scold someone in front of others, it can undo the progress you are making with positive affirmations. 

4. Stand up for your team
Nothing bonded me with my most troublesome technician than when I was able to stand up for her. I was able to intervene when a patient was being rude to her and because of that, our relationship is much stronger. Your staff cares that you care about them. If something goes wrong and internal metrics aren’t met, take responsibility for it and don’t play the blame game.

5. The golden rule isn’t always golden
You have heard it a million times: treat others the way you want to be treated. But I once had a brilliant mentor explain the problem with this idea. You shouldn’t treat others the way you want to be treated; you should treat others the way they want to be treated. Not everyone is the same and they each respond differently to criticisms and compliments. Being fair doesn’t mean you have to treat others exactly the same way, but it does mean that you treat each staff member with respect.

To be a great leader, you need to meet each person where they are and approach them in the way that is best for them, not you.


Ad Position
Bottom Center Aligned