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How to Deal With a Difficult Pharmacy Tech

How to Deal With a Difficult Pharmacy Tech by Elements magazine |

March 26, 2018

Inside: All independent pharmacies deal with difficult employees from time to time. Learn how to turn a difficult pharmacy tech into your best employee.

Some problems are age-old and never go out-of-date.

Stubbing your toe. Bad weather. Angry customers.

Difficult employees.

You need to prepare yourself to deal with them because they’re going to happen whether you like it or not.

In your independent pharmacy, like any company, difficult employees happen. But unlike other companies, a difficult pharmacy technician creates a unique problem.

In many ways, pharmacy techs make up the backbone of your pharmacy.

Techs are your right hand. They serve as your proxy when you need. They handle high-level tasks that other staff can’t. They’re your super employees.

So, when a pharmacy technician becomes difficult to work with, it can have devastating effects on your pharmacy and on your well-being.

These Are the Top Strategies to Set a Difficult Pharmacy Tech on the Right Path

But how do you effectively deal with a difficult pharmacy tech?

The easy approach is to find another tech. But the best approach is to reconcile the problem and restore the relationship.

(Re-inspiring your current employee will not only make your business better, it’ll also save you money).

Use these strategies to turn a difficult pharmacy tech into an improved and empowered tech.

Show appreciation for what the employee does right

Before pointing out the problem, point out the positives.

Highlighting the positives will prime both you and your pharmacy tech for a positive discussion. It will also reduce defensiveness and bitterness.

Otherwise, you risk running straight into a wall.

It’ll also give you a chance to reflect on what your pharmacy tech does well.

Because chances are, you haven’t thought about that in a while. Human brains bias toward the negative, especially when they’re frustrated.

The negatives completely obscure all the positives and distort our view.

So, start things off right by going positive before turning negative.

Communicate clearly and early

Clear communication should start from the moment your pharmacy tech begins the job. From day one, you need to make sure to clearly outline your expectations.

If your pharmacy tech isn’t clear on his roles in your pharmacy, he might not even know he’s being difficult.

And, if you’ve communicated your expectations, then you can communicate exactly how your tech has failed to meet them.   

Early communication is crucial for several reasons:

1. Early communication addresses the problem before it gets too bad. If you wait too long, the roots of the problem grow too deep and wide to fix.
2. Early communication is more persuasive. Your pharmacy tech will be more receptive the earlier you communicate.
3. Early communication can prevent problems before they happen. The best way to deal with a difficult tech is to keep him from becoming difficult. Communicating problems as soon as they pop up can keep them from surfacing later.

Listen and understand

When employees act difficult, there’s usually something deeper going on.

Maybe it’s a personal issue. Maybe they don’t think they’ve been treated fairly. Or, maybe they find their assignments unreasonable.

Issues simmer beneath the surface. The only way to truly fix the problem is to address the source that’s fueling their behavior.

When you decided to have a discussion with the difficult pharmacy tech, first ask questions.

Try to empathize. Practice active listening. Repeat back to them what you hear so you both know you’re on the same page.

Listening will show them know you care. And that you understand them.

Often, a few strategic questions will enlighten your employee and create a change in him.

If not, his answers will enlighten you to the source of the problem and his motivations. Then, you can address the real problem in a way that resonates with him.

Who knows, you may even discover that the problem may start with you. Poor communication. Lax management. Unclear expectations. Don’t get defensive. Recognize the issue and improve.

Ask your employee how to make the situation better

For some employees, improving their behavior starts with allowing them to cooperate in finding the solution.

It empowers them.

It makes them feel appreciated even as they’re being reprimanded.

They also understand themselves, which means they know what will work best to motivate them.

But this approach doesn’t mean your pharmacy tech gets complete control over the situation. Use your discretion.

Create an official review process

An official review process gives you a systematic way to deal with difficult pharmacy techs.

A regularly recurring review process creates a natural way to address problems. When your policy dictates that you meet once per quarter, for example, then both you and your pharmacy tech know that’s the time to address any issues.

An official review process provides two advantages:

1. It prevents the pharmacy tech from feeling blindsided
2. It prevents pharmacy the tech from feeling singled out

If you decided to confront your employee out of nowhere, your conversation will probably go nowhere. She’ll put up walls and spend more time thinking about the confrontation than participating in the conversation.

If you confront her outside of an established review meeting, she’ll likely point fingers or feel singled out. A review process lets her know that the same conversations could be taking place with other employees as well.

Document the problems

Always keep a record of an employee’s difficult behavior after you’ve addressed it.

Documentation is crucial for legal reasons if you end up needing to fire the employee.

But documentation also enables you to track a path of behavior to where it started, how it progressed, and how you’ve addressed it. You’ll remember what you’ve already said and what actions you’ve already taken.

It’ll also help you know how to deal with another difficult employee down the road. You can look back and see what worked and what didn’t.

And, documentation ensures that your pharmacy tech can’t play denial.

Foster a positive environment

If you cultivate an environment of positive reinforcement, instead of a toxic culture, employees will face correction more positively.

Even better, it may root out difficult behavior altogether.

Encouraging, rewarding, and celebrating positive behavior every day creates a culture that naturally breeds out difficult employees.

Consider your lawn, for example. The best way to keep out weeds isn’t with weed killers. It’s with healthy grass.

When your lawn brims will healthy growing grass, weeds can’t grow.

A positive workplace culture proactively prevents the negative rather than reactively correcting the negative.

Now that you know how to effectively improve and empower your difficult pharmacy tech, what are you waiting for?


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