A Strategic Move for Your Career

Do you have a strategy for getting what you want out of your career? When you want to achieve goals—big or small—in your career, you need a way to reach them. 

Too often we, in healthcare, have a goal, but we don’t have a strategy. The goal can be one you have for yourself or one that your company has put in place for you. You know where you want to go, but you’re not sure how to get there. It’s possible your strategy is not working. I’ve heard many new pharmacists say their career plan is to “just get by,” or, “quit my job if I don’t like it.” I’ve heard more experienced pharmacists say their plan to reach their corporate metrics is “let my staff handle things,” or even, “I don’t have a plan.”

If you’re frustrated and burned out because you’ve not met your professional goals, maybe all you need is a better strategy. Don’t give up just yet. You didn’t learn about strategy in pharmacy school, and although you’ve had mentors along the way, not many of them have discussed strategy with you. 

The best definition of I’ve heard recently is from my friend and business coach Scott David: 

The ability to think strategically involves collecting information and data, seeing the connections, and formulating a point of view. 

Keep in mind that strategy is not goal-setting. Goal setting is beyond the scope of this post so I’m assuming that you already have a goal or goals. It’s not a tactic either. Tactics, or action steps, are the ways to implement your strategy.

So, If your vision or goals are the WHERE and WHY, then strategy is the HOW, and tactics are the WHAT you do as you go along. 

For example, suppose your goal is to get an 80% patient satisfaction score. The strategy for achieving that goal may be to create the kind of work culture in which your staff feels good about the work they do. They provide great service and communicate that to the patients so that patients want to share their experience with your corporate office. The tactics may include telling your staff each time you notice it when they’ve given great service, giving little rewards each week for great service, or teaching your staff little sound bytes. 

Now that you have that example in your mind, let’s go back to Scott David’s definition and break down that example so you can get a feel for strategy in action.

COLLECTING INFORMATION AND DATA

The goal in our example above is to get an 80% customer satisfaction score. In formulating a strategy you may want to find out what other chains in your area are scoring. If there is one pharmacy in your district that is reaching 90%, you could reach out to their team leader and find out what they’re doing. If there’s a pharmacy with a low score, you could reach out to that leader and discuss your mutual frustrations, what have they tried, or what are they trying next. You could go on a search engine and search customer satisfaction scores in other industries. How about information and data within your own department? Can you access scores from the past five to ten years? Which of your staff members is really good with customers? Who seems to really like working in the pharmacy? Who seems to be struggling? Do you remember any team members that your patients mentioned for giving great service? What was it about those people?  Keep a file with all that information and data. You’re going to use those to help formulate your strategy.

SEEING THE CONNECTIONS

Now that you have that information, step back and take an objective look at how things are connected. Is there a connection between low satisfaction scores and workplace burnout? Maybe you called up a pharmacy friend or two and realized that one individual is always complaining about how they hate their job. It should be no surprise that the satisfaction scores are 50% for this individual. 

As you continue to look at the information, you discover that the pharmacies with the highest scores have staff members that pick up the phone on the second ring, and sound happy to do so. Patients can speak to the pharmacist quickly, and they are not stuck on hold. You might even notice that during one leader’s tenure, the pharmacist kept big charts on the wall so that the staff could see progress toward goals. This approach helped boost scores. This is a great opportunity to think about that one individual on your team that always gets good reviews from your patients. How can this person help you reach your goals?

FORMULATE A POINT OF VIEW

This piece of the strategy puzzle may be the most difficult because it’s less objective and more subjective. It’s personal, right? Only you can decide how you see things. You have to take a small risk here by stating what your vision is for getting what you want. And you may fail. It may not work, and that’s OK. You’ve done all the work of gathering information and seeing the connections. So, if you need another strategy, the good news is you’re ⅔ of the way there. Going back to our example, let’s say that your point of view is that you can reach your goal of 80% satisfaction. You just have to make sure that everyone on your staff is invested in this goal and that you keep the workplace positive. 

Once you have a strategy, then you can use any number of tactics in reaching your goal. You can lay out action steps for you and your staff on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. These steps can easily be changed and evolve depending on any number of factors. With a strategy, you know how you’re going to get to where you want to go. 

It’s a huge relief to know how. You don’t have to keep worrying about your strategy, so your days at work will be easier. Your staff will be encouraged because you’ve taken charge in this way. Good leaders always have a strategy. You can learn how to be a strategic thinker. These steps will help. Go ahead and choose a goal, even a small one, and formulate a strategy. You can do this. 

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