No Turnover May Not Be in a Pharmacy's Best Interest

Where are you taking your employees?

"To reach the fourth level of leadership, you must focus on developing others. Your agenda is to pour yourself into the individuals you lead."

- John C. Maxwell, The 360 Degree Leader

I was recently rereading The 360 Degree Leader, hoping to find supplemental content for the online course I have been building.

I was really into the book and had my headphones on, so I was rather oblivious to the surrounding environment. Just as "The Imperial March" from Star Wars began to play, I looked up from my book and nearly had a heart attack as I became aware of the lady standing in front of me.

"Nancy! What are you trying to do, decrease the competition?" I said with a wise smile, shortly after I regained my composure.

Nancy is not only a good friend of mine, but also the manager of my pharmacy's biggest competitor.

"Actually, I saw the book you are reading, and I was wondering if it was helpful," she inquired in a quiet kind of a frustrated tone.

"I get the sense you're concerned about something. Want to talk about it?" I asked, as I was certain she wanted to bounce something off of me.

"It's my team. They seem to have topped out, and they don't take delegation well anymore," she said in a rather bland tone. "I'm lost on how to motivate them. Got any magic beans I could feed them?"

"I'm curious about why you used the word 'anymore,'" I responded.

"Well, when I first took over the pharmacy a few years ago, they all seemed to really like me and they all pitched in to help," Nancy explained. "But, nowadays, every time I ask them to do something for me, they always drag their feet."

"I think you just described something I read about yesterday," I said, flipping back through my book.

I reread page 5 and said quietly, "Nancy, where are you taking these people?"

"What the heck is that supposed to mean?" she asked as if suddenly coming back to life.

"I call your pharmacy several times a week and it seems like you have little or no turnover," I stated. "Is that correct?"

"None!" she said proudly.

"Great, that means you are probably a nice person to work for," I said. "So, what are you doing to grow your people?"

"Huh?"

"You work for a huge company, do you not?" I asked.

"Of course."

"There are tons of opportunities in your company for advancement, are there not?" I asked.

"Yeah, I guess."

"So, what are you doing to get your people ready to take those opportunities by storm?"

"You want me to get rid of my own people?" she asked with a confused frown on her face.

"It's not what I want; it's what they want and need," I explained. "They need you to care about them and their personal development.

"Most leaders top out at making their people the most prepared to do their current job with no thought for their future. When that happens, people begin to believe that the leader cares more about his own needs than their career development," I explained carefully, bracing for the fallout.

"Are you calling me selfish?" she blurted out with heat in her eyes.

"No, it's difficult to actively want good people to move on. However, if you want to prepare them for the best possible future and prepare your pharmacy as an 'incubator' for greatness, then you have to have double vision. You have to keep 1 eye on the present, and another on your vision for your employees' futures."

"Where would I even start?" she asked with an intense scowl, shifting her weight out of frustration.

"By having a 1-on-1 conversation with each of your people and mapping out a plan for their future, which they develop with your help and encouragement," I answered.

"The same way my college guidance counselor did with me, all those years ago?" she acknowledged, kindly showing me she was going to consider doing the right thing. "Seems like a lot of work you, know?"

"Greatness doesn't come cheap, my friend!" I noted, turning my music back up and grabbing a highlighter.