The Business of Pharmacy Podcast™
Jan. 23, 2023

Navigating Difficult Conversations with Pharmacy Staff | Patrick Lott, SHRM-CP

Navigating Difficult Conversations with Pharmacy Staff | Patrick Lott, SHRM-CP

Patrick Lott, an executive and leadership coach, is discussing the gap between the expectations of employees and the reality of what is seen in the workplace, specifically in the field of pharmacy. He discusses the importance of investing in staff and creating a culture of trust and accountability within the organization.

Patrick Lott, an executive and leadership coach, is discussing the gap between the expectations of employees and the reality of what is seen in the workplace, specifically in the field of pharmacy. He discusses the importance of investing in staff and creating a culture of trust and accountability within the organization.

  • Discusses the gap between expectations of employees and reality in the workplace, particularly in the field of pharmacy
  • Explains the potential reasons for this gap in the field of pharmacy
  • Mentions the use of the DISC profile to identify personality differences among employees
  • Emphasizes the importance of investment in staff and spending time with patients
  • Advises owners to trust and empower highly paid professionals and not to have shortsighted vision
  • Discusses the importance of consistency and predictability in leadership style and how it affects the stability of a business
  • Suggest that staff should know what they can depend on from their leaders and that it is important for leaders to have tools for managing their emotions
  • Discusses the challenges of taking over a store from parents or through a junior partnership, and how it can be difficult to assert oneself and be supported in that role
  • Advises that honesty and being forthright would have gone a long way in these situations and that it is important to set expectations
  • Discusses the importance of clear communication and expectations in the workplace. He emphasizes the importance of being consistent and transparent with employees, and of being willing to help and support them in achieving their goals.

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(Speech to Text)

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:00:00] Patrick, for those that haven't come across you online, introduce yourself and tell our listeners what we're talking about today.

Patrick: I'm Patrick Lot. I'm an executive and leadership coach. I'm a partner with the John C. Maxwell team. I'm also a C-Suite executive coach with the CDR group. and I spend a lot of my effort, energy, and focus on supporting organizations with the people stuff in their business.

Today we're gonna focus on this gap between expectations of employees and the reality of what we see out of our employees, why we see that, what I believe some of the causes and drivers are of that in our pharmacies and in our organizations.

and then maybe some tips and some tricks on how I can begin to change that?

Mike Koelzer, Host: Patrick, is that. to pharmacists being pharmacists. I mean, would you be saying the same thing to an architectural firm or some other sale something, or is it something of an oddity about us pharmacists that have this need for, for this to be brushed up on?

I, I think, I think it's a little bit of both. I see it in multiple types of organizations, not just pharmacy. What I do experience in pharmacy more specifically, is a significant reservation in having conversations with. I see pharmacies, a lot of the owners that I work with, a lot of the pharmacists that I work with directly, they are very process oriented.

you think about workflow and numbers, right? And when you went to pharmacy school, they didn't teach you how to have a difficult conversation. They didn't teach you goal setting. They didn't teach you expectations and employee management, right? That's not what it was about. and so I think it may be more prevalent in the world of pharmacy than it might be in other places.

Mike Koelzer, Host: But devil's advocate, Patrick, a lot of other businesses, we would say, well, maybe architects didn't get that training. Or maybe, car mechanics didn't get it. Is it something about the weird personality of pharmacists?

I don't know if, well, maybe, right? Cuz if you think about your pharmacist, right? I think about disc profiles. and what comes with that, right? You got your dominant personalities, your influentials, right? I'm a tall guy.

Mike Koelzer, Host: What does that stand for?

Patrick: So I am an influential and steady as you go kind of person.

The Ds and Cs, dominant and conscientious, they're very task-oriented and your eyes and S'S are very people-oriented.

Mike Koelzer, Host: whenever I've taken that test, it always comes out for me. Fat and old I'm the only guy that gets that.

Patrick: Yeah, it's gotta be something with the way you're answering questions,

Mike Koelzer, Host: So you're the I and the s.

Patrick: Yeah. And what I tell people, right, when you think about my profile, I'm, I'm basically the ugliest cheerleader you're ever gonna meet. I'm an I, so I'm extroverted. I'm s so I'm very people oriented. I want to know that people are engaged and they feel encouraged and they feel a part of whatever's happening.

Where when you work with pharmacists, they're most often, they're sea oriented, very conscientious oriented. They're more introverted, they're more detail specific, right? They're working with those sorts of things. and because they don't have this, more people oriented alignment in their behavior, it's more difficult for them to understand that someone's just not doing the.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm

Patrick: they don't connect the dots between how that person receives information and communicates how they process information, their learning style. they don't, they don't look at it necessarily from that angle because again, they're more task oriented and very detailed. My personality as a, 

influencer status quo, that as you go type of personality, I frustrate the C personalities cause I don't care about details.

I care about people. Like, let's get to Jimmy. Jimmy can handle it. I know he can. I'm celebrating Jimmy and everything he can do. And the C type personality is like, well, yeah, yeah, yeah, but well is Jimmy gonna do it this way? Is he gonna do it in this amount of time? Is he gonna get this result?

And if he doesn't get that result, it's because he didn't do it my way. Like, there's just a lot of that that occurs between those personality profiles. and when you work with, your traditional. Pharmacist in charge, staff, pharmacist, you do find a lot of those C type personalities.

And so that may be when you think about the root of some of the issues around the dialogue,you're cs they don't want to engage in the conversation.

They don't, they're not people oriented. They're not, they're not. And it's not a bad thing. CS are not horrible people. They're no different than an eye. They're just

different strengths.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I had this employee and. he was in the C category and we were really busy in the past and whenever it was time to talk about something, he could always find a reason to cut the conversation short [00:05:00] or be helping somebody. Now, maybe I'm cheap, maybe I should have paid him an extra hour a week to actually sit and talk.

But the pharmacy itself was conducive for a c not to talk because there was always something to do. There's always something to do. So doing is more important than.

Patrick: I love the fact that you bring that up because for me, what I'm finding in organizations is that we're not doing a really good job of aligning resources, right? When you think about bringing someone into the role, A P I C is there to obviously protect the pharmacy from legal and compliance and all that kind of stuff, right?

but at the same time, they're expected to lead people. And what we don't realize as leaders in an organization, right, we wear three hats. We lead, we manage, and we do. What I find in working with pharmacies and pharmacists is that they spend an incredible inordinate amount of time wearing their due hat

Patrick: and next to no time wearing their lead hat.

And leadership is all about people. Management is about the tasks those people are responsible for and do is the stuff that only I should do.

And so I think that the, that c personality style, right, again, they're task oriented, so that's a natural tendency of theirs. And then from an organizational perspective, we're always watching the bottom line labor and inventory, the two most expensive things in any pharmacy, right?

And so we want to pay the p i C to do pharmacist work because we believe it's creating more revenue, which creates more profit. In reality, if we gave them the space, To properly invest in and train and create accountability for their staff, they could then do that much more for your business. So we have this kind of, I'll say distorted view of the real value of the role of P i c.

Mike Koelzer, Host: When you talk about the p i c, managing the expectations and in a good way.

Hopefully that means there's communication going on, to hit those expectations.

Patrick: Absolutely right. When you think about it, an expectation is that's where I want you to go. That's really all an expectation is I want you to accomplish abc, I want you to arrive at destination B, like whatever, right? if we're not taking the time to properly train and communicate those expectations, then we're not going to see the traction, or the value of having that employee in the building.

They show up on day one, we train 'em on four things, and six months later they're doing those four things and we get frustrated because they should be doing 5, 6, 7, 8 things.

Because we don't, we don't have that connection there. I'll, I'll throw one at you. You've probably seen this. and if you've owned a pharmacy, you are absolutely right.

How many times have you seen pharmacists doing technician work?

Patrick: Walk into any pharmacy today, and it's happening a lot.

And look, I don't wanna devalue the technician. I think it's the most underutilized role in a pharmacy today. I genuinely do.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Sure.

Patrick: But you're paying your pharmacists significantly more dollars per hour for the work.

Why are you gonna pay them to do the technician work? And that's just a business decision. That's just sheer math. You're 60 an hour, you're 20 an hour. Why am I gonna pay the 60 hour guy to do the work? Right? and we lose sight of that because, well, it's one, it's just easier if I do it myself.

in the short term.

Sure. Until you have 50,000 things that are just easier for you to do yourself.

and then two, you're burnout and you're frustrated, you're understaffed, and it's, and you're not, I, I've done the math on dozens and dozens and dozens of pharmacies. You're not understaffed, you're undertrained and you're lacking accountability.

Patrick: Those are the two primary drivers of the dozens upon dozens of pharmacies that I've worked with in the last several years that they, I, I, don't have enough staff. I don't have enough staff. And then you go in, you do a time and a process study, and you find out that a pharmacist is spending 30% of their time, 25% of their time doing technician work, and they're doing it because the technicians have gotten comfortable with two things.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Payroll has gotten so easy, over the last 30 years you hit a button. I haven't really appreciated the dollar since my grandma paid me when I was 11 to rake her yard or something like that because it goes through your bank account and then goes out for the bills and so on.

And sometimes it would almost make sense for me as an owner to get all the payroll and get it all in cash. tell the staff like, Hey, payroll was broken this week and we can't write a check for this or that region. We're gonna pay you in cash. And it would be interesting too. [00:10:00] Lay down $20 bills to pay your pharmacist that week, or all the staff, because it would make you understand how much these people are making, that they should be in the right roles, cuz there's a cost to it and frankly, sometimes let the person see a lot of that green coming into your hand.

So your requests to them aren't so onerous to them. They're like, oh, I guess I am getting paid for this

Patrick: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. And I think that would be a great illustration, right? Like use monopoly money

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah.

Patrick: and sit down and do that one day. Take all the 500 s, take all the 100 s and start doling out. And if you just sat and watched what you're paying your pharmacist to do,

right? The two greatest returns on your investment with a pharmacist, obviously there's the medication stuff, the compliance, and all those sorts of things, but it's time with your patients and investment in your staff.

They know more than everyone on the staff, and if they can spend time with them and educate them and train them and work with them so that they can then bubble up and do more. , which allows the pharmacist to bubble up and do more. Right? Think about the pharmacist being able to, and willingly wanting to spend time with a patient.

Take 10 minutes and just talk to 'em, right? The value that that patient got in that one visit is gonna come back to your pharmacy 10 times in the next 90 days.

Like it's, it's just exceptional. If we took the time to really think about it,

Mike Koelzer, Host: You mentioned like 30% of the time doing technician work. It seems to me, it's pretty clear to me that owners shouldn't be doing that because there's a ton of other stuff to do. If I look at an employee pharmacist, I think owners get kind of shortsighted and they say, but if I take that 30% off of this guy or Gale as a pharmacist, are they gonna do the right stuff with that 30%? And I think maybe the pharmacy owners don't trust themselves that they're gonna train their P I C well enough to make a valuable use of that 30%.

And so it's just easier when you walk in to see everybody working, even though you and I agree, that's not the best spot for them.

Patrick: You are absolutely right. It's the, and I've, I've had this, I had this conversation this morning actually with an owner, multi-store owner. and it was, well, how do I know they're doing what I need them to do. Part of it is, well, if you don't, then you have a hiring problem. We're not, we're not matching the profile to the work. Like, we're not, we're not doing that, right? So our hiring needs to be revamped. It needs to be cleaned up so that we're vetting that appropriately because these are highly paid professionals and they should be trusted and empowered, like highly paid professionals.

And if you can't, that's a personal problem, right? And so we need to fix the personal problem. The other side of the coin is I look at owners. You are the most expensive person in your business. If you're not, okay, we gotta fix some operational stuff because you should be. , right? You're the most expensive person in your business.

What aren't you doing? Because your p i c or your pharmacist isn't up at the level that they should be. And you think about business growth, you think about expanding the pharmacy, you think about doctor detailing, you think about new stuff, compounding growth, U s P 800, right? Thinking about that kind of stuff.

What I see working with a lot of pharmacists and owners is they really, their vision goes to about the end of their toes.

They're not talking about six months from now, 12 months from now, three years from now. and so that's when I think about some of the greatest concerns around compliance and legal issues in our industry.

That's one of my greatest. There's nobody looking a year from now, there's nobody looking two years from now because we're focused on the, just to the end of our toes, that one step. and so that is, when I think about the owners, there's no other way to say it. You just gotta saddle up,

Mike Koelzer, Host: Mm-hmm.

Patrick: focus on what are the things my p i c, what are the things my pharmacist needs to know to be truly successful, to allow me to go do these other things?

It's about taking that hard look in the mirror and asking ourselves, Hey, what am I not comfortable with in training? What do I not know? What do I, what do I not have myself that I can go get? I tell people all the time that everyone should have a coach and there's always someone you can coach.

Go get one like it, And so I think there's a lot of opportunity when I think about owners, business owners in general, but especially pharmacy owners. I think going back to what you said, it's easier to walk in and see people. Busy.

Busy does not mean being productive.

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:15:00] It doesn't mean productive. And we know now in pharmacies that sometimes the busier the more money you're losing. 

Patrick: Yep. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: About four or five years ago, the business was losing money and I didn't like my staff and they probably didn't like me more and but the business was losing money and it was just depressing for me. We were busy as hell, but I knew we were losing money for all the reasons, so because I wasn't there as much, I had to put one of my pharmacists as the p i c, the pick, pharmacist in charge. The problem with that is, Without really getting into the expectations and the structure of that, they didn't give a damn about how much some of the stuff they were doing was costing, like counting stuff like 20 times and then having customers wait 45 minutes for a C2 or something like that.

And I don't blame them. If someone put me as the pick in charge of all this stuff, I don't want to end up in prison for it. If I'm a staff pharmacist, without knowing the whole picture of the store as far as being efficient with this, I'm gonna spend too much time on that stuff. And that's what she did.

Ultimately, I had to take it back because, well, she left so by default it was back to me, but it was okay with me because I'm like, it wasn't efficient what she was doing. And you really have to, when you set the standards up, boy, it takes a lot and the communication, it takes a lot of skill.

And that's Patrick, obviously, where you come in because there's just a lot of levels and there's so many things that affect other things.

Patrick: Yeah. I work with leaders all the time and I tell 'em, I stole this from a man who's much wiser than I am. Data drives business, d a t A, and when we think about, expectations and leadership growth and people managing, d is define, define the expectation. What is it that I want as a result of this role existing in my organization, not the person, the role.

Once I've done that, I need to articulate it and articulate. It isn't just spit stuff out. It verbalizes it in such a way that it's easy for the other person to, to spit back to me for them to remember. Right? And then I have to train them on the expectation, and then after that I can hold them accountable.

What I find in working with a lot of organizations is they'll define and then they wanna jump to accountability.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah.

Patrick: Articulating it means I know they understand

it, they, they got it, they've given it back to me in their own words, they understand it so I can articulate it. And then training them to say, yeah, I get it.

You've been a pharmacist for 25 years, but we're gonna verify

That's what we're asking for you to understand. It's my opportunity to provide support and resources to help you get where we're trying to go. And if we take that posture right, like it's not about, Thinking someone's not capable or doesn't know or whatever, it's about me owning the responsibility to ensure you have the proper resources and support. Then after we do that, we can do the accountability piece. And what I've, what irritates me, a lot as I work with organizations is when I say accountability, people immediately jump to the negative stuff, right? I caught you doing wrong, or you made this mistake, or you whatever. When a thank you and a handshake is accountability. if you've, some people have heard me speak at N CPA and a couple of different conferences and, one of the things that I say is accountability is about correcting negative behavior or encouraging positive behavior because the negatives ignored will continue and the positives ignored will stop.

And so we've gotta change our mindset around what accountability is. . if I go to one of my kids, I say, I'm so excited you got an A. I'm encouraging that positive behavior, so I expect to see more of that positive behavior. If I don't say anything and I just chew 'em out when they get a C or a D, well guess what?

They're gonna focus on 

not getting a C or a D Doesn't mean they're gonna get, a's

Mike Koelzer, Host: You'll talk to business coaches and they'll say, when you wanna talk to somebody, give them the sandwich. the top layers positive, the middle layers negative, and then positive. And it's like everybody knows what the hell's going on with that.

They focus on the middle part. But if you make that into, not a sandwich, but just, snacking all the time and truly through the day, every day, you're saying you did a good job there. I like how you talked to Mrs. Smith there, or, Bill boy, that was really impressive. If you do those kinds of things and then throw in some corrections, it's truthful instead of just this, Huge submarine sandwich that's coming with a kind of a made up positive in the all the junk in the middle, and then a little bit of positive at the end.

So they don't tell you to go jump in the lake in their mind.[00:20:00] 

Patrick: Yeah. If every time someone brings up that sandwich, I want to throw it at 'em. I want to stick the bologna to their face. Wham, right. That it frustrates me. I'm a very simple man. I, that's why I tell people all the time, look, I'm not the most incredible, most intelligent human being on the planet.

I just genuinely care about people and I ask really good questions. And one of the, my own personal staples, I've worked in organizations, I've had 72 retail locations that were under my responsibility. Not that I'm God's gift to anything. But let your 

nobi know in your eyes, be yes. When there's an opportunity to praise and celebrate you, I'm gonna do it there.

Words, an opportunity to coach and correct you. I'm going to do it. I don't, and people always know where they stand with me. I'm not trying to sugarcoat some difficult news. And I also, maybe it's because of training and edu all this stuff over the years, but conflict and difficult conversations to me are not about fixing a problem.

They're a vehicle to improve the quality of relationships.

And so that's my own personal perspective is that, yeah, I've gotta have a difficult conversation. Yes, I've gotta have a challenge, a challenging conversation with someone. It's not gonna be comfortable. They're not gonna like it. But at the end of it, my goal is to have that much stronger of a relationship with the person.

They understand me, they know where I'm coming from. It's not a personal tack, it's, let's get aligned. 

and know that here's how we're gonna behave going forward.

Mike Koelzer, Host: You can have those sandwiches, and I think a lot of people kind of obfuscate the layers. I think sometimes you both walk out of those things and it's like, was he trying to tell me something ? I had a leader once, he was with her. 

Patrick: His role was development that was literally in his title. And he would come in and he would visit my location. and he would, wanting to give me some praise. We actually had praise. You had to write it out.

And it went in my employee file. Hey, I'm gonna give you some praise, whatever. And, I can remember every time he did that, I was, I walked away from the conversation, frustrated. I was like, wait, what did I do? Well, what was it you were praising me for? Because we talked about so many other things and I needed to do this better, whatever, but this one praise.

And then I had a leader. He was an ops supervisor, operations, he was a director. and he would come in, he would be really frustrated with me. He would be irritated. I didn't do something well, or my performance from a financial perspective wasn't taking the trend it needed to trade. And he would come in, he would have very difficult conversations with me, but when he walked out, I felt like I could conquer the world.

Now, he wrote me up. I got a document, I got coaching in my employee file. But when he walked out, I felt like I could conquer the world. And that's because of the way that he viewed accountability.

He wasn't going to make a sandwich. He wasn't going to throw some fluff on the top and the bottom.

And he was, his yes was yes. And his no was no. 

And that. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: We had this guy that used to come in and uh, he would come in and he'd be like, oh, top of the day to everybody, everybody happy, everybody in a good mood and all this stuff. And then like once in a while he'd come in and just like, bitch us all out about something, I've grown to like customers that are a little bit gruff first. The edges are kind of gruff already, they're not having this negative you just know where you stand with 

Patrick: And thinking about it from an employee perspective, right? There's nothing worse that you can do for the stability of your business than to, pardon the expression, be bipolar with your staff.

right? They don't know who they're gonna get. Right? You're, yes, you can have exciting days and you can have really difficult days.

You can have those, but your staff needs to know what they can depend on, right? They need to know, look, the world can be on fire. That doesn't mean you have to have a smile and a level head.

You can be frustrated and you can express frustration. You need to have tools for managing it, right? You gotta have some coping tools so that you don't wreck your staff.

but if your staff, when they show up, they, they go, oh, which Pat am I gonna get today? 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hate 

Patrick: They don't, they don't know. and if that personality is different based on the employee


Mike Koelzer, Host: That's.

Patrick: Right. They're like, your children at home, they see it.

Mike Koelzer, Host: They see it.

Patrick: Yeah. Pat really likes James over there, but man, he's hard on me all the time.

It, it, it's consistency that matters and that's what your staff need from you.

Mike Koelzer, Host: A handful of listeners probably they've taken over the store either from their parents or through a junior partnership kind of thing, 

and in my situation, when I came into the business, I don't think it was, I mean, I can always sit back and. play Monday morning quarterback. But I don't think that it was stressed enough to the team that I was in charge of. [00:25:00] And I'm not saying I would've cracked the whip on people, but I didn't have any of that.

I was never very assertive because I didn't feel like I was gonna be supported with that.

And so I had to rely on being encouraging, but, That was hard because then you couldn't have those conversations. Mine was like way overboard encouragement and then way overboard encouragement. And then the middle was still kind of encouraging when I was actually chewing them out. It was a bad situation to be in and some honesty and some being forthright would've gone a long way. But you know, that's in the past you live and learn.

Patrick: Yeah. But you know what I, I, I see a lot. I see it almost daily, right? Where many owners and PCs are in that very same boat is part of it. When I think about the junior partner transition, those sorts of things go back to the expectation, right? We didn't sit down and we didn't build a ninety, a hundred and twenty, a hundred eighty day transition plan that says, in the first 30 days, the new guy is going to, and his role is, and in the second 30 days, right?

I work with organizations. I do a lot of c e o transitions with some of your medium to large size organizations. and that's one of the first things that I make mandatory is we need to sit down. We need to clearly ar, define and articulate the transition window because in the early 30 days, the outgoing guy is still the face up front, still the one in front of the group, and they're talking about decisions behind closed doors.

Patrick: And in the second 30 days, the new guy starts to own those conversations or those decisions rather. And in the second 30 days it is now the face out front and the outgoing guy is kind of sitting in the back, just flying on the wall in the boardroom, right? And then after that, the old guy, the outgoing man has transitioned.

And so I think that's one of those big things that we miss with the junior purchasing. The junior buy-in, right? The junior partner. is that we miss that very clear setting of expectation between the senior owner, the junior owner, and then the staff. I think we miss that piece of it. and then the other side of it, you haven't led people before, if you haven't been trained on what it means to lead people, it, it, it's not natural.

You don't just show up and you're great, right? You could be a great motivator, a great encourager, a great hype man, or you could be a great corrector to find this art of truly leading people, allowing your influence to positively affect the lives of those around you. If you haven't gotten coaching and support on what that means, then you're kind of fumbling in the dark until you stub your toe or find a light switch.

Mike Koelzer, Host: kind of my upbringing was more like, Don't rock the bower and then if you're gonna rock the boat, really rock it. So people are so afraid of you, they don't question anything. And that's not right. There's gotta be a 

good assertiveness in the middle. But boy, sometimes I think back to the days, and let's say we had 20 some employees when I was making that transition, and there had to be a better way.

Sometimes I think I just should have fired like half of 'em, laid down the law. I'm the boss and I don't like this and that, I don't think you're ever gonna change.

And it's like, yeah, that's easier said than done because then if they have any group thinking, half of them are gone. there's probably a better way. But it was kinda like a dream I had when I'm sitting there thinking I don't have enough control. It was like a dream I had of, I should have fired half of 

Patrick: Yeah. I hear that a lot too, right? Like, you know what? If hiring wasn't such a problem, I'd get rid of half of them.

Like, I, I hear that, I hear that quite a bit. And, as a retail leader myself, I always said, I, give me the people that you have the most trouble with. Send me the ones that you have the most difficulty with.

Because I am a firm believer in a very simple mentality. I cannot fire anyone.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm.

Patrick: You can fire yourself. I'm gonna promote you to patient,

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm.

Patrick: right? We're gonna have such an honest dialogue and whatever. And when you walk outta here, you may not be happy. , but you're gonna know exactly where I stand. You're gonna know exactly why we are where we are, and I have said, Hey, un, unfortunately, this is where you've brought us to.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm.

Patrick: As leaders. We often believe that I have to own it. That's wrong. The employee needs to own it. I am not the solution. The employee is the solution. I can provide support and resources. Remember to think about the training dynamic. I can support, I can provide support and resources, but I'm not the solution.

If I am the solution that I actually don't need you.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm.

Patrick: I want you here. I want you to be a part of the organization. I want you to be excited about coming to work. That means there are some expectations. There's a [00:30:00] level of, of effectiveness and productivity and efficiency that we all need to meet, including myself.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm, 

Patrick: And so I've had that, that conversation about a million times. When I was with one large organization, we were multi-state. early on I was a general manager for location. They used me to fix people's problems.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm

Patrick: I was in 10 different locations in 13 months

Mike Koelzer, Host: hmm.

Patrick: cuz that's what I did. and it was, part of it was my own belief in I can't fire you.

You can decide you don't want to work here, in which case I just have to do the paperwork and have a conversation. But it's up to you to decide you wanna be a part of where we're going and what we're doing.

Mike Koelzer, Host: You said, like you sat down and said, I'm not gonna fire you. This is about you. You're the one that decides this. I'm giving you the expectations and so on. What does the negative part of that look like if you're not doing it right?

Patrick: What I find is most leaders, they go talk to somebody and they say, okay, what can we do? How can I support you? How can I help? That's the last question that you ask. Not the first, the first question, and every question until they come up with something they can do to meet expectation is, okay, what are you going to do? What can you do?

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm.

Patrick: When you get through all that dialogue, then you ask, okay, what's the best way for me to support you?

Mike Koelzer, Host: I like that because they could walk away thinking it's the employer's fault.

Patrick: I hear that a lot. I see that a lot, right? I'm meeting with leaders and I'm having conversations with them, and they're like, Hey, what did you do with this individual? And you were talking about them, they can't get to work on time, tell me how, how you had that conversation with them.

The first thing to say, well, I asked them how I could help. Well, that just made you the 


You don't have a problem getting to work on time.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Right,

Patrick: They do.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's a slight twist, but it's what can you do versus what can we do

Patrick: And if you, if you use the example right, of the person who can't get to work on time, they're habitually late, you have that conversation with them, and at the end of it, they say, you know what?

I'm gonna set my alarm 15 minutes earlier every day. so that I can get outta my house at least 15 minutes earlier every day. I'm gonna pack my lunch the night before. I'm gonna, whatever the solution they come up with.

You recap that with, you know what, I think it's a fantastic idea. I do genuinely believe it will help you get here on time, every time, ready to work.

When you're scheduled to work. What's one thing that I could do to support you

with that solution? And I've had, I've had my employees tell me, well, if you could call me just to make sure that I'm moving, that I'm not distracted, right? I've got kids and I gotta get 'em all packed up and I get, if you could just call me, I, it's a lift.

I shouldn't have to, you're an adult, but I will.

And I've called them every time they were scheduled. I call 'em 30 minutes before they're scheduled. Hey, just wanna make sure that you, you're walking out the door because it takes you 25 minutes to get here, whatever. After a few phone calls, I didn't have to call 'me anymore.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It ends up with the same helpful thing, but it's not your fault. You're 

Patrick: Mm-hmm. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: do something that they're responsible for.

Patrick: Yeah. And, it reinforces the fact that I care about them. I don't just want them to meet expectations or quit. I'm here to help. I'm here to be a resource for you. And because I'm not saying, well, good, get up, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier, and I'm walking away, I'm showing them that they are worth it.

The most expensive resource on the planet is time.

Once it's gone, you never get it back. And people need to believe that they're worth your time. And so by asking that one question at the very, very end and then doing what you commit to doing to support them, you're proving to them that they.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I probably should have done more of saying, here's our standard.

 Point it to the expectation. I mean, You do that with the law. Like as a corporation, we're not able to defend ourselves in a legal case. We have to have an attorney that represents a corporation because I am not the corporation legally, and I probably should have done more to that in conversation of, instead of saying, Hey, I'd like you to be a little, nicer here, a little bit more outgoing here, or do this, it should have been.

I know that stuff's hard to measure, but it should have been more focused on things like, this is the standard of the company. We're just kind of here as outsiders, like seeing if you're hitting that goal or not.

Patrick: Yeah. I work with organizations and I ask about core values. Right. Do you have your core values? Oh, yeah. Yeah. We have great core values and one of the biggest ones that you hear is teamwork. Okay. Well, tell me what teamwork looks like. If I'm a stranger standing in a corner in your store, how do I know it when I see it?

How do I know it when I don't see it? When I see the opposite of it? Right. And the, the, that is really about your employees. It's again, your core values are your agreed, agreed upon methods of behavior, right. [00:35:00] The employees. That's how I'm expected to. To behave, there's an expectation again. And when I don't see that, it should be very easy for me to call out.

And so when you think about the, this whole idea of corporate, you could be a, a single store pharmacy that has four employees, but if I don't know what you stand for, if I don't know how I'm expected to behave when I'm here, then I'm gonna do what I want to do. Right? And so that's that, that really important piece of making it so crystal clear.

Then when you have those, those core values, I'll use those as an example. You can use expectations for the role the same way. If I see an employee getting angry or chewing out or lying to a, a peer or another coworker, I can very quickly go back to you and say, Hey, how did that demonstrate our core value of teamwork as an organization?

We've said, we are not willing to bend on these values. Are you prepared for that? Are you comfortable with that? And then you, you use your core values and your interviewing process and all those sorts of things. So make sure people align with your organization. 

If we don't do those things, then it's just how I, like you, were saying what I want or how I feel or what I think.

Right? And then God forbid I have the same conversation with two different people, but in two different ways. And they get two different


So what am I pointing them to when I'm having that conversation?

What I try to coach leaders and organizations in is consistency. 

It doesn't matter if it was Sally, Jim, James, or Pat. I'm going to have the same expectation and I'm gonna coach to the same expectation. and what, when we get into these conversations rather than the, I really don't feel like you're, you're in it today, Sally.

Like, I don't, I don't feel like you're engaging or whatever. I state what I observe. Hey, Sally, I observe you were pretty, pretty short. and pretty, cut off with Jim when he came to have a conversation with you about prefill, about sync. and when I think about our, our core value of teamwork, I, I, I wonder if that behavior aligns with our core value of teamwork. So you get very specific and you can have that same conversation with everybody.

You don't have to, you don't have to, get frustrated and angry and oh, Sally, here she goes again. cuz god forbid I'm the leader and I had a horrible morning, the kids were a nightmare. One of them was up all night with a fever.

My wife and I had an argument before I left the house and I showed up and I'm already in a negative emotional state, right? and now Sally does one thing and all of a sudden I'm at 11 on Sally

Mike Koelzer, Host: yeah. Right.

Patrick: When it's, it's not about how I feel, it's about what I observe. And when we have conversations in a consistent manner, regardless of the person.

because we have these things that are our guiding principles, our core values, our competencies, our role expectations, it makes a very simple conversation.

Mike Koelzer, Host: A couple years ago, things got pretty tense at the store because our numbers weren't good at the time and I had some employees, I think they took their frustration out on me. I think instead of them saying, this is a tense situation, I probably don't wanna work here anymore because it 's so tense.

I think they were trying to focus that tension on me a little bit. And so they were coming up with reasons to quit, which hadn't changed over the years. it's just like they didn't wanna blame themself for leaving. They wanted to blame me anyway. I was telling this person, I'm like, I left one of them.

Have it, you know, I really read her riot act, you know and this person I was talking to, they're like, that wasn't the best way to do that. And I said, I deserve it though. I don't have to put up with it, I don't need to work with someone like that. And she should have been fired and this and that, and I'm glad she's gone.

They're like, Mike, I wasn't telling you not to fire her. I was saying you didn't have to ignore her on this side or go ballistic on this side. You could have had faith in your standards and just say you're not meeting what we need as a company. But the reason I think, Patrick, sometimes it's why I get fired up is because, It was hard to argue with Mike cuz he was being an asshole and he was just being loud and obnoxious and then I feel stronger about my motives. Cause I'm really laying down and it's like, that doesn't help anybody. I wish I would've spent more time on standards instead of having to get, like, hyped up to get my point across.

Patrick: That behavior is pretty common, 

We're, you know, encouraging and we're jovial and we're all these things until I just can't take it anymore. 

And then poof, the top blows off and we're, or whatever. versus how, how. Much better. Would it be early on



Mike Koelzer, Host: The problem with approaching things that are difficult with a calm head.

Patrick: Hmm,[00:40:00] 

Mike Koelzer, Host: If you feel, I'm not saying this is right, you feel like you've lost the power you can have as a boss, which is stupid because those people end up quitting or you're an asshole, or you know, it makes relationships break down.

But when you go into something calmly, it's almost like you're giving that person permission to respond to you. And if you go in as a gorilla, you don't have to listen to a thing they're saying, cuz you're the boss. It's better to have things in the middle, but that's really hard to do.

Patrick: It is. Right. and I, I understand, right? Especially when you start talking about the physiological responses to stress on the body, right? And we are like, ugh. Uh, I tell people all the time, your mama was a liar when she said, control your emotions because you can't, 

right? What you can learn is to recognize and manage them so that you can do well in those situations.

but one of the things, and I think this is a fallacy of, of leadership, is that we believe we have to be the one that does all the talking. We have to have all the answers. We have to do whatever, right? and I believe that the other person needs to do all the talking. I'm not worried about my job.

Patrick: I'm worried about the expectation of the role and the success of the organization. All I wanna know is what you're gonna do to meet the expectation.

That's what I want to know. And I, I work with, obviously a lot of pharmacists, even some director level directors of operations over multiple stores, and they wanted to get into every little detail, every little piece.

And they, this person brings up this issue or this rebuttal and 

It's not productive. This is now costing the organization precious resources, which equals precious 

money. Here's what I wanna focus on. This is where we need to be. This is where we are. How do we improve that gap? Let's keep focused on that and get it back to the person.

And I think if, and maybe it's the nature of the pharmacist, because that's a lot of what I'm working with. they don't feel complete unless they get every little thing.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Hmm. That's interesting.

Patrick: Right? And, and, lately I've said this in the last three or four weeks, I have said this about a thousand times, right? We've all heard the, the, the statement, don't sweat the small stuff.

Do you know what the other half of that statement is?

it's, all small 

stuff. Right? At the end of the day, in the grand scheme of things, why we're not meeting expectations doesn't actually matter. What we're going to do to meet expectations is really what's important.

And so let's not worry about the why's and let's not worry about let's focus on what we're going to do 

to get to where we need to be,

and we'll do it with our finances, right?

If I'm a business owner, I'll look at 'em like, oh man, I'm a hundred thousand dollars under where I need to be. Okay? I can shave inventory, I can cut labor. I can, like, we start making all of these decisions of things that we can do to meet our metric of finances.

But when we work with the people, all of a sudden it's totally foreign.

We've never had to do something like that before when it's really the same process.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Someone told me one time when I was telling this person about how I mainly had to depend on motivation because I wasn't thought of as the boss. She said, Mike, Trying to make people happy all the time. Give them 26 weeks vacation, pay 'em enough so they can go to Hawaii during those 26 weeks and they'll be happy.

She says, that's not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to have standards and have an agreement. It's a financial agreement with the employee to hit those standards. But when I always came from the motivational side, you thought that the only way that pharmacy worked is by happiness and by no problems, when in fact it's standard and you get into a bad situation with that if that goes on too long.

Patrick: Yeah. Right. It's that, artificial harmony. Right? So Patrick Ly calls it artificial harmony. You've got walking wounded all over the place and they're faking it.

and Patrick Lin, he wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. He wrote The Advantage and these different books. and that's one of the things that he describes, because we don't genuinely.

trust one another on a vulnerable level where I can just be true, right? 

Patrick: With who I am, say, I don't know, or I need help, or I screwed up. because we're not willing to engage in healthy conflict because we're not willing to hold each other accountable because I am focused on my own individual needs and wants and not the organizational results, right?

We think about these sorts of things. we end up with that artificial harmony. And so when Susie and Bill are working together, it's all roses and sunshine. And then, Bill came in early, so he goes home and then Jan comes in and all, all Susie's doing is talking about how horrible Bill is.

And so, it, we've got to help individuals in organizations understand why the organization [00:45:00] exists 

and in order to meet that, why Simon Sinek, right? Start with why in order to meet that, why we all have responsibilities and expectations. . And so having those conversations, setting those expectations upfront, supporting them, defining, articulating, training, and creating accountability, right?

Doing those things early and often. It helps create the fuel that the organization needs to get where it needs to go.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Patrick, when you bring these thoughts to a, a company, I would imagine the leader, a lot of time has gotta say, that's not gonna work for these three. he or she already probably has, them fired in their mind or also knows something's never gonna work.

I imagine it's gotta be a big bite to take, It seems like some employees just, it may never work. They're so used to something. They're so used to getting their way. It's like, how do you redeem that? And I know it goes back to it's their responsibility and all that, but it just seems like some people just wouldn't change.

Patrick: Yeah. One of the first things that I, it, it go through this process of discovery and learning what the organization's looking for and what they need and all those sorts of things. One of the first things that I tried to remind them to understand is that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

we're gonna get quick wins. John C. Maxwell, he says, creates wins and visits them often. So we're gonna get quick wins because that perpetuates positivity and, and the engagement and the belief in what we're trying to do. But the full process is not going to be fast. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Mm. 

Patrick: It's a marathon because we're dealing with humans.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I hate humans. I hate dealing with them. Patrick, I've done it too long. My podcast now, I just monetized it a little bit, a few months ago with some sponsors and stuff. But this is all me. I do everything. I do everything. Cause I don't like people and , I think I'm gonna hang up my time with people, but I still own the pharmacy, so I got a few more years.

I gotta behave myself, I guess.

Patrick: Well, I tell people two things. I tell leaders two things. If it wasn't for humans, we wouldn't have headaches. And if it wasn't for people, we wouldn't have problems.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah.

Patrick: But you can't run your business without 'em. So get some Advil.

Like here, here it goes. Right?The other thing is that I, you know, have the opportunity to build relationships with the leaders, like, look, I got these three people and this one that and this one, that and this and whatever.

And maybe they've made their mind up about the one like, look, I'm just going through this as part of the process, we're gonna fire him and whatever. as you nurture the relationship with that leader, and this is part of that, it's a marathon,

I remind them about what John C. Maxwell says. Everything rises and falls on leadership.

So you either haven't set proper expectations, been honest and open, right? And Maxwell says to you, it's the balance of candor and care.

It's not just hitting them, right? You either, you haven't done those things. and so therefore they are just going on their own devices. and so on. 95, I'll say, I won't give myself much, a perfect rate or whatever.

But 95% of the time it comes back to a very honest conversation with that leader.

As a coach, my job is not to have the answers. My job is to ask really good questions to show you that you have the answers. and those are the types of things like, well, Jimmy, he, whatever.

I say, okay, well, tell me why you believe Jimmy's doing that today.

Okay. And then you end up with that whole Socratic questioning method of the five whys and right. And then at some point it gets down to, oh, you know what? When we onboarded Jimmy, I never sat down with him.

I never had the conversation. And that path of self-discovery takes.

Especially for a very high achieving, very success oriented leader who's been very successful. It can be a challenge for them to sit down, and go through that process. But as you engage that leader on that level, that vulnerability based trust begins to build itself. We begin to understand, I, I will say that I don't know I've, that I've ever worked with an organization who hired me to come in and work with a, a level of leaders, and it didn't turn into me working with a leader above them.

I don't know if that has ever happened. The leader, actually, I have a, a, a client now, another multi-store owner, eight stores, originally was coaching for him and said, Hey, we read this book together. Would you be willing to coach the rest of my leaders? Well, absolutely. Right. And so I do see that because at some point we have to realize that we have this incredible privilege of leading and, and caring for the people that report to us. We have the incredible responsibility of genuinely caring for them.

And so what they see outta me, and if I'm a a level eight leader, I'm not gonna produce level nine followers.[00:50:00] 

I'm gonna produce level sevens. And so I've got to grow, I've got to continue to, to take my journey and be willing to do it. Simon Sinek, I'm full of all kinds of quotes from these guys, says that, being in charge or being the boss, being the leader, it's not about being in charge.

It's about caring for those that are in your charge.

And when I take them, the personal burden of understanding their quality of life because of their paycheck and the experience they get when they're here working is within my control. That's within my charge. When I begin to take the mindset of what it means to be the leader and look through it, look at it through a lens like

that, all of a sudden my willingness to have those expectation conversations, my willingness to have those difficult conversations, goes up because it's, they're not just a cog in a machine, they're a human being, and their life affects other human beings, and I have this incredible privilege to really be a positive part of their life.

Mike Koelzer, Host: The years I spent, I'm not blaming anybody. I have to be careful not to blame myself, because those years I spent just being a motivator. It wasn't fair to people. I was lying to people basically because I wasn't giving them a chance to grow.

 I did as well as I could, but basically I was lying. I wasn't given people a chance to improve, to grow with me. It's easy to smile through things, but you're, you're not doing anybody any favors, there's a responsibility there. And if you're not having some of those difficult conversations, it's not good. And I'm glad I know that now, and I knew it 

back then. I was just too fearful, I guess, to do it sometimes.

Patrick: Yeah. Well, I, I told her I'm, I'm a very simple, right, very practical guy, and I take the idea of, of these conversations, right, and, and I'll use you, your. Scenario as an example, you're a motivator, you're an encourager. You're, you're building people up. You're building people up, right? if you take that into a very physical application, someone is standing on the ground and you push 'em and they fall. Now they're standing on an eight foot ladder and you push it and they fall. Having a difficult conversation by virtue of the conversation is you pushing them on the ground

when you do nothing but motivate. Motivate, encourage, encourage, encourage, and you don't have honest conversations. They're climbing that eight foot ladder.

Mike Koelzer, Host: That's why narcissists, if you pull that, if you pull a brick out of their wall, they stumble far because they're way up there in this fictitious place.

and I can see that even with the staff, Yeah. You get 'em way up there and all of a sudden you're pulling 'em down farther than they need to be pulled down.

Patrick: Yeah. Right. And, and we don't, we don't see it that way. Typically, when we have a difficult conversation, it's, I see a problem, I need a problem fixed.

Right? It's not, well, this problem or this difficult conversation is the vehicle for me to build a better relationship.

Because if I'm having a conversation with someone who's in my organization, I can say, Hey, tell me what you want.

What do you want for this organization? What do you want for this company? What do you want for yourself as a part of this company? I want the company to be incredibly successful. I wanna get promoted. I wanna become the manager. I wanna become a director. whatever.

Fantastic. Well, do you know what it takes to get there? Well, I think it takes, well, you know what? It actually takes being an expert in your current role first.

 Well, what does it mean to be an expert in your current role? . Well, these are the expectations. How do you feel you're doing with meeting those expectations?

 I own a martial arts school and all that kind of stuff, and I'll have difficult conversations with some of the junior belts, right? They got a yellow belt, they got whatever. And, there'll be some black belts out and they're doing their cas and their forms or their techniques or their sparring stuff.

And I'll ask 'em, I'll say, Hey, do you see what they're doing out there? Do you know how to do that? Yeah. Yeah. I do all of that. Okay. What's the difference?

There's this cleaner, there's this crisp, there's this fluid. They're experts at the technique. And so when you think about growing in the organization, you think about the organization getting to the point of success that we all want it to have.

That means we're all experts in our role, and that's how we get the opportunity for the next role. In that same vein, one of the things that I go and I work with organizations, I find oftentimes, people don't know where they stand, right? Am I doing well? Am I not doing well? Or they wanna ask for a raise, but what's the criteria for getting a raise?

Well, you, you haven't had one in two years. We'll give you one. Eh, what if I'm, what if I'm hurting your organization? What if I'm not a positive fit in your organization, but I've been here two years? You're gonna pay me more money, right? When you think about those sorts of things, so performance should never be a surprise,


If performance is a surprise, I have failed as the leader in the organization.

Mike Koelzer, Host: What are you doing in five years? Are you on stage occasionally?Are you on a book tour? Are you sitting with CEOs [00:55:00] occasionally. What does your week look like?

 definitely on stage. I love the environment of speaking to an audience. Absolutely. I get energized and I get jazzed by that. As weird as that sounds, this public speaking thing, I just, I love doing it. so definitely traveling, doing some speaking engagements. I will always, always, always invest in my coaching role.

Patrick: So the opportunity to work with organizations and help them grow and learn. I think that's probably the bulk of what I do. By then my youngest will be in their second year of college. And so I think there's that dynamic that, I'm, my wife and I, we're traveling and we're enjoying life. She's right alongside me in the, in the business, in the, in the company. And so the opportunity to go and do speaking engagements and meet with organizations and continue to do the coaching and the support of those organizations, but it's more about creating opportunity for other coaches.

In the organization it is about me.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Someone listening? Right now they're pulling up home or to the store and they say, I'll give. Patrick. Three minutes. What are they doing?

 Is it a book you'd recommend? Is it something they should say to one of their employees? A moment they get into the store, is it something they should be telling their wife or maybe apologizing to the dog for kicking it

Patrick: The first thing that I would recommend is that they look at their calendar and they schedule intentional one-on-one time with each of their direct reports. It doesn't need to be five hours. It could be 30 minutes once a month, but you've got to give your employees your time.

And so when you walk in the pharmacy today, you walk in the pharmacy tomorrow before you start worrying about the pre-checks and the stuff from last night and whatever else. Get your calendar and schedule time to meet with your direct reports.

It's the most expensive resource on the planet. Once time is gone, you never get it back. People need to know they're worth it. 

the second thing you do is shoot me an email. Let's get to work.

Mike Koelzer, Host: Well, Patrick, God cool I could talk about this all day. I think I say I like talking about stuff cause I don't know what to actually be working on, but I do like to talk about it. That's fascinating stuff. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for all you do for the profession, helping out pharmacists.

It's a big need and much appreciated and I look forward to keeping in.

Patrick: Awesome. Michael, thank you for your time and thank you for what you do and, spreading the initiative and the work that we do, in the industry 

What better place could you ask to work? What better industry could you ask to be a part of, 

Mike Koelzer, Host: All right, 

Patrick: Alright, Patrick. 


We'll be in touch.