Your communication style sets the tone for your pharmacy as a workplace. You can have an airtight workflow setup and thorough standard operating procedures, but if you have poor personal communication skills, problems will crop up anyway.
Poor communication can cause confusion and distrust in the workplace, and it undermines your credibility as a leader.
To improve your managerial skills, watch out for these common communication mistakes.
1. Choosing the wrong medium
There are lots of ways to communicate in the workplace now — chats, emails, phone, video calls, and the old-fashioned in-person meeting.
Many managers rely on asynchronous communication methods like email because they can take their time crafting the message, but sensitive messages, like terminations or performance feedback, should be delivered face to face.
For smaller interactions, you may want to tailor your communication choices based on employee preferences. If an employee prefers you use interoffice chat instead of a phone call, respect their preferences.
2. Using defensive body language
Even if you are using all the right words, your body language could be sending a different message.
Be aware of these common expressions of defensive body language:
- Crossed arms
- Hands on face
- Tapping or drumming fingers
- Fidgeting with accessories
- Crossed ankles
- Steepled fingers
All of these gestures can tell your employee that you are upset, hostile, or disinterested.
3. Speaking off the cuff
When delivering important information, you should have a plan going in.
If you haven’t thought things through, you can come off as unprepared. You may bungle your words and fail to get your message across, undermining your credibility.
This doesn’t necessarily mean writing out a script before every conversation with a staff member, but for more important meetings, write out a few talking points beforehand. You may even want to practice delivering the information so you don’t find yourself at a loss for words at the critical moment.
4. Communicating at the wrong time
You have your employees in the pharmacy for a certain number of hours every week. Unless there is a genuine emergency, you should not contact them after work hours to go over a work matter.
This sends the message that you don’t care about their work-life balance and can create stress in their personal lives.
5. Getting too friendly
While it’s important to develop a rapport with your staff members, getting too friendly can backfire. If you act like you are “just a member of the team” instead of their manager, your employees will take you less seriously.
You will eventually have to deliver some tough messages, and when that time comes, you need to be seen as an authority figure rather than friend.
If your employees find out you lied to them, they will never trust you again. It’s that simple.
There will be situations where you can’t be 100 percent transparent with your employees. Instead of fudging the truth, have the phrase, “I can’t comment on that right now,” or, “That’s currently confidential,” in your back pocket.
7. Leaving employees out of the loop
As the boss, you expect your employees to listen and follow directions. But if you don’t give enough context to your decisions, your employees might end up confused and frustrated.
When giving instructions or communicating new workplace policies, be conscious about explaining the “why” behind them. This is especially important if the message is controversial. Employees will be more likely to commit to an unpopular policy if you lay the groundwork for them.
8. Giving too much information
Over-communicating can be just as harmful as under-communicating. Don’t bombard employees with the minutia behind every small decision you make.
Sending memos or calling meetings for small updates can be irritating to staff members, but more importantly, it obscures your message. When employees are getting avalanches of information, they have to determine what’s high priority and what should be discarded.
Think hard about what information employees need in order to do their jobs well.
9. One-way communication
Think back to elementary school when the principal would give morning announcements over a loudspeaker. As a kid in the classroom, you had no way to respond and simply had to listen.
Now you’re the one in charge, but you shouldn’t be making pronouncements from your office. One-way communication can give the impression that you’re out of touch with what is happening in your workplace and that you aren’t open to changes.
10. Not giving feedback
Giving an employee feedback on how to improve their performance can be awkward, but you’re not doing anyone any favors by keeping constructive criticism to yourself.
Giving feedback helps you and your staff align expectations, and it helps employees stay engaged with their jobs.
Intervene early when issues arise so employees aren’t blindsided when they have a performance review months down the line.
Remember to tell employees when they are doing a good job, as well. If all they hear is things they need to improve on, they may feel like they are doing a bad job.
11. Not accepting feedback
You’re not perfect, and your staff members can see your flaws.
When an employee expresses unhappiness about their work, don’t get defensive. If you react poorly to negative feedback, no one will ever want to volunteer constructive criticism and you might scare away great employees.
Instead, create a work environment that invites feedback from employees. Ask questions like, “How do you think we can improve workflow?” or “Do you have any recommendations for improving morale?” Make it clear that employees won’t face retaliation for answering honestly.
12. Softening the blow
As the boss, you will eventually have to be the bearer of bad news. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “sandwich method,” where you place the bad news in between two pieces of positive information. This may be a good way to soften the blow, but it can also send a mixed message.
Your employee might cling to the positive information and gloss over the negative information. In order for your message to sink in, you need to be kind but frank.
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PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.