How to Turn a Good Employee Into a Great Pharmacy Manager

How to Turn a Good Employee Into a Great Pharmacy Manager by Elements magazine |

Inside: Independent pharmacies need good managers. Learn the secrets to turning a promising employee into a pharmacy manager all-star.

Do you make one of the most common small business mistakes?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses with fewer than 100 employees provide a mere 12 minutes of training for managers.

How can a measly 12 minutes prepare employees for a brand new, difficult role? And one responsible for the success of your business?

Managers also determine whether good employees want to work for you. Gallup polls show that at least 75 percent of the reasons employees quit their jobs comes down to things managers can control.

Small businesses often fail to train managers adequately because they assume good employees will automatically make great managers. That’s a common misconception.

Research shows that good employees don’t necessarily make good managers. Management requires a more diverse skillset than individual roles. (For example, think about star athletes who made terrible coaches.)

It’s on you to take your good employees and turn them into great managers.

5 Tips for Turning a Good Employee Into a Great Pharmacy Manager

Use these surefire tips to develop a star employee into a great pharmacy manager.

1. Choose the right employee

Training a great pharmacy manager starts with choosing the right employee.

Some employees simply aren’t suited to management. Even if they are intelligent and have a great work ethic, that doesn’t mean they have what it takes to manage a business.

To find employees best suited for management, look for these traits:

  • Good social skills
  • Contributes ideas to the company
  • Comes up with solutions
  • Well-liked by peers
  • Exceeds performance requirements
  • Constantly trying to learn
  • Excellent work ethic
  • Develops new skills
  • Asks for feedback
  • Works well with others

Before you choose a good employee as your next manager, assign her low-level management tasks and see how she handles them.

For example, put her in charge of scheduling employee shifts for a month. Or, have her supervise the prescription dispensing workflow.

Training can help, but if she lacks managerial skills from the outset, you’re better off finding someone else.

RELATED: How to Determine If a Pharmacy Employee Is Management Material

2. Give the employee a trial period

Before you officially promote an employee to a manager, make him a manager-in-training.

In a training role, he’ll challenge himself with new tasks and skills without the real stakes of management. He’ll develop his abilities without the stress that can stifle them.

Slowly incorporate more responsibilities until he’s shown he’s ready to graduate to an official managerial role.

Make this training period a standard practice for all soon-to-be managers. A consistent system will ensure every employee receives training and is ready to take on tasks that will truly affect your business.

3. Develop the employee’s management skills

Companies commonly make the mistake of assuming a good employee can easily take on a manager’s role. This mistake shows a lack of understanding about the unique abilities required for management.

Most companies don’t invest in developing the unique and diverse skills required for management.

One survey found that more than a third of U.S. workers reported that they haven’t done anything to develop new skills in the recent year. Only 8 percent reported receiving opportunities to develop necessary leadership and management skills.

Don’t make that mistake. Establish an official training program. Train employees on each skill they need to do the job of a pharmacy manager.

A good training program will include various teaching methods such as:

  • Classes
  • One-on-one mentoring
  • On-the-job instruction and evaluation

Even an employee who shows the right characteristics for management needs extra skill development to take on the role.

A pharmacy manager needs the following skills:

  • Organization: Managers must coordinate staff and delegate responsibilities well. They need to manage time, set priorities, and delegate.
  • Communication: Managers need to clearly articulate assignments and business goals to employees.
  • Soft skills: Managers are responsible for employee and customer satisfaction, which means they need good interpersonal skills.
  • Performance management: Great managers make sure employees perform at the top of their game. That requires motivational and evaluation skills, as well as the ability to create strong bonds among employees.
  • Conflict management: Managers need to settle disputes among employees in a way that results in reconciliation and a healthy work environment.

Of all these, soft skills are the most overlooked, even though they have a huge effect on customer and employee retention.

“Sadly, one often-overlooked quality when considering promoting an employee to management is their customer service awareness and skills. More business is lost due to poor service and poor treatment than what products a business, in this case, an independent pharmacy, provides,” said Nancy Friedman, a top customer service and business trainer and President of The Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, Inc.

“Since all pharmacies basically offer the same products, customer service is not only key, it’s a differentiator,” she said. “From greeting a customer to walking them to a section when they can’t find a product, to thanking them for their business. All make a lasting, positive impression.”

4. Mentor the employee

When you decide to promote an employee to a pharmacy manager, invest in developing her one-on-one.

Meet regularly to instruct her and let her ask questions, voice concerns, and learn from your experience.

Mentoring allows you to go beyond the general training and turn the employee’s weaknesses into strengths. It tailors training to her personality and needs.

Mentoring also enables you to demonstrate the ins and outs of managing your pharmacy. During your mentorship, include her in your day-to-day decision-making. And, let her start making some bigger decisions. (With your guidance.)

Think of it as developing a partner. You want her to be self-sufficient when she becomes a pharmacy manager, so you can trust her with important responsibilities. But you also want a certain level of consistency with the way you run your business.

Mentor her during the manager-in-training phase to help her work through any (inevitable) issues together.

Eventually, you can delegate mentoring to another manager. After you train your first crop into grade-A pharmacy managers, they can mentor the next generation of managers. That’s another good reason to have a training system in place to ensure all new managers receive the same development.

5. Give the employee independence

Nothing frustrates a pharmacy manager faster than having to run every decision by their manager. It makes them feel like they aren’t valued or trusted.

Micromanaging will also prevent new managers from growing and learning in their new role. Unless they can flex their muscles, so to speak, they’ll atrophy.

Instead of micromanaging them, empower them. Train and equip your employee to handle the job without your constant intervention.

Consider setting up regular meetings where you can discuss how things are going. You can ask questions, correct mistakes, and provide encouragement.

Moreover, if you want to cultivate healthy independence in your managers, create a culture where failure is okay. (To a point.) When managers have the freedom to fail, they have the freedom to innovate and grow your business.


A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

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.



Editor’s Picks


Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!


Sign up to receive PBA Health’s e-newsletter to get the latest Elements web articles in your inbox every other week, along with industry news, supply chain insights, and exclusive offers.

Related Articles

Popular Articles