When I first started working as a Pharmacy Manager, I prided myself in being the best at everything.
I had years of retail experience before pharmacy, so all of the people problems and challenges were nothing to me.
Verbal de-escalation was a breeze.
Customer service was my forte.
I was a beast at filling prescriptions because no one could match my hand speed with the spatula.
I could type 100 words per minute, and my fingers were built for flawless triage and adjudication.
The thrill of productivity and efficiency fueled me.
But I soon found out that I was steadily building a house of cards.
Being a one-man show had dire consequences.
Negative Compound Effect
My typical day used to start out with clearing triage queue and resolving all the insurance rejections.
Then, I would print labels and pull bottles for my team to fill more easily.
I would acknowledge every patient and step in at Pick Up whenever they were standing for more than 5 seconds.
To maximize efficiency, I even found ways to ring out two patients simultaneously.
Workload and autofills were no match for me.
But I was also the pharmacist.
I fixed insurance problems, counseled patients, and gave immunizations.
Sounds like a typical day, right?
However, I soon found myself unable to finish the workload by the end of the day.
I had no lunch breaks, no 15 minute break, not even a bathroom break.
The end of the day allowed me the privilege to close the pharmacy gates, but with a disaster of a queue left over.
It reminded me that I had utterly failed that day, and the next day would be even crazier if I didn’t stay longer to finish.
Four hours after closing, and all the work was still there.
The queue was never-ending.
Maybe I should go in 2 hours early to make up for my disappointing efforts?
Rinse and repeat for weeks on end.
The negative compound effect of my pharmacy’s inefficiency.
The Real Problem
When you fill a small amount of scripts, wearing all the hats may be okay.
Maybe only 1 pharmacist is required to do the work in your pharmacy.
But when you have a team of technicians, the bottleneck is always you.
Who makes all the doctor calls and counsels all the patients?
Who transfers prescriptions, conducts DURs, and orders C2’s?
Only the pharmacist, one human, one person with limited bandwidth and limbs.
It only took a year for me to figure out that something was wrong with my work strategy.
I blamed the system, the patients, the company for not fixing my problems.
But the real problem was me.
I was the leader, yet I allowed my efforts to overshadow the amazing talent on my team.
This pharmacist thought he was the ultimate collaborator.
I worked hard to pay my dues and prove my worth to the team.
Taking out the trash, pulling out-dates, dusting the counters, etc.
I vowed to always lead by example.
But because I did everything, my team then had no reason to ever step up.
There was no incentive or accountability.
I made up the excuse that I was leading by example.
But after months of “leading,” I should have realized that my team expected me to do everything.
Instead of challenging them, I babied them from the pains, stresses, and anxiety of failure.
I took it all upon myself and shielded them from it all: failure and success alike.
And in turn, they missed out on opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
When the leaders complete tasks or challenges for their team, they rob their direct reports of potential fame and glory.
What could have been “their greatest hour” instead was spent watching someone else hogging the spotlight and doing a terrible job at it.
Call To Action
Moral of the story?
Ask yourself: How much time does the pharmacist actually spend doing ONLY pharmacist duties?
Of course, there are going to be moments where the pharmacist has to step in and contribute to general workflow.
But is this something you truly need to take upon yourself?
Does the pharmacist really need to ring out groceries?
Does the pharmacy manager need to spend time typing and adjudicating prescriptions?
Is counting that autofill prescription truly the best use of your time?
With some coaching and development, could a technician possibly gain more skills?
With some creativity and leadership, could they be even more effective?
My job now as a Pharmacy Manager is to analyze how much of my work can be outsourced.
Certain duties may be mindless, easy work for me.
But these duties could be stretch goals and opportunities for colleagues to demonstrate higher proficiency.
Giving our techs additional responsibilities isn’t a burden, but rather a challenge.
It’s a chance for them to achieve their own fame and glory.
Leadership is about giving up the spotlight and recognition to all those around you.
Give your team the chance to own their own failures, and you will be surprised how much they want to win.