Google TED talks … Click here and you will find a nice, sharp, 5 min presentation on the 5 keys to successfully negotiating any change management journey.  How do we apply models for change like this to pharmacies that have not successfully completed the change we keep hearing is critically urgent?

According to the clip, the 5 “generic” critical success factors are …

  1. Identify the new vision – make it crystal clear
  2. Clarify the impact – positive vs negative; change vs stay the same
  3. Communicate – address the fears and the “what’s in it for me”
  4. Team up – get the whole team involved
  5. Lead – own the change and celebrate milestone successes

Our observations in observing over 50 pharmacy teams attempt the change journey to a successful forward pharmacist service model provide for insights as a sector specific version of the 5 generic CSFs above.

  1. Identify the new vision

Having a clear overall Vision for where you want your business to be in 3 years is critical – But not enough. Often Pharmacy owners/managers tell us we have a vision such as increase sales over the next 3 years by 20%. That’s a great start but much more is needed. What is the strategy to achieve the vision? What are the tactics and what does it look like every day in your Pharmacy? For example what kind of conversation do you and your team want to (need to) have with your customers that will lead to an increase in sales?

Get an objective assessment of your current service model, down to granular specifics, eg how long do you engage the health customer? How much of that time do you provide counsel beyond customer request/expectation?

Compare and contrast to the better exemplars in the sector, eg where >90% of ALL scripts are handed back by a pharmacist.

Define what the new service model needs to look like accordingly, from the customer’s perspective … again in granular specifics, not motherhood statements, eg every health customer approaching the service counters will experience “meet and greet and professional triage” within 1 – 30 seconds every time.

  1. Clarify the impact

What is the impact of not changing? What are the possibilities if you do change?

We find the impact is often assumed and rarely discussed in detail.

Do the numbers and then tell the story that flows from the numbers.

Exactly what will happen if the business and the people don’t change (ask Kodak & Darrell Lea)? What will the impact be for the team and each individual? Go through this first.

Then clarify what the impact will be if you make the changes. How will the business look? What will it mean for the team and the individuals? Don’t assume – clarify the impact.

Crunch the numbers…what will bad look like? What will good look like? ie hard dollar numbers that relate to the whole team, not just the owner/s.  Remember that unit volume changes over time, in s3/s2 and selected unscheduled health items, that relate to a more complete solution for both the script customer and the OTC customer is a reasonable proxy for the degree of change toward an effective, engaging and solution-delivering forward pharmacy service model.

  1. Communicate

THE biggest mistake we see around change is lack of communication. The second biggest mistake is poor communication. Tell your people what’s going on. Be open. Be honest. Get their input. Seek to understand their perceptions and emotions. Ensure you communicate clearly and check-in to make sure your team interprets the message the way you intend.

Team meetings are a “must have”.  No less frequently than monthly.  Fortnightly/weekly even better.  Rotate chair.  Set standard agenda items and then have feature items each month.  Get all members of the team involved in leading and contributing to the topics.  Make the vision and the change journey updates sacrosanct.

  1. Team up

Empower your team to take on the challenge with you. Don’t try to do it on your own.

Get the team involved. Develop your people and engage them to take responsibility.

Many Pharmacy owners and managers tell us this is hard and staff don’t want to get involved. If you are finding this, go back to steps 1, 2 and 3 – have they been done well?

Spread the load; share the love, ie there will be a bunch of structural changes required, strategy changes, and training/upskilling to be able to confidently and competently host proactive complete solution conversations.  Getting the whole team involved in making/implementing the identified components of the change will provide for a greater chance of acceptance and embracement

  1. Lead

Lead the team through the change. Be the co-ordinator, support them, remind them of the vision and the impact. BE the change you want to see, without trying to do it all yourself. We refer to two types of Leaders. Transactional Leaders – those who do tasks and keep the current cogs of the wheel going. And Transformational Leaders – those who engage and inspire others to be part of the change. Which are you?

Recognise the “theory of transition” and the emotional roller coaster ride staff will experience in their own unique and different ways.  Lead from the front … Show what “doing it” looks like.  Understand that any challenging change journey will sometimes seem like “two steps forward; three backward”.  Stay ahead of the curve and anticipate.

We all know that now is a time of change for Pharmacies. Competition is increasing and profitability is reducing – there is no option to stay the same. Applying these 5 steps will make a significant difference to your end result. How will you manage the change and lead your team to a bright, positive future?


The above article was co-authored by Glenn Guilfoyle and Michael Erwin.

CLICK HERE  to request our pharmacy services brochure outlining the workshops we can provide to facilitate change.