The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Last Chance Tech.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:30 pm on Friday, January 29, 2010

Pharmacy Chick is all about second chances.  I rarely throw out the baby with the bathwater and perhaps that is why she gets too many high maintenance people.  I really try to WORK with people.

Recently I aquired a technician from the float pool who has placed into my store to cover another technician on medical leave.  To be fair, I had been warned.  “She has attendance issues, and she isn’t the fastest”.  I had my choice of two techs and the other option was even worse, I can guarantee.  She had covered for another medical leave and probably missed a good HALF of her shifts for “illness”, “car trouble”, “husband trouble” or “etc”.  How SHE stayed employed with this company is beyond me.  Either way,(for lack of a better term) I chose the lesser of two evils and chose Sandy. 

Sandy has a pleasing personality and is quite likeable, which makes discipline even more difficult, and I noticed right off the bat that the office was right, attendance (or tardiness) was an issue.  Sandy relies on public transport to get to work and frequently she would be 15 minutes late because the bus was late.   I asked her to take an earlier bus.  She has some health issues and with in 2 weeks of starting she came down with H1N1 due to her immunocompromised state and missed almost 2 weeks of work. 

However the issue I have had the most problem with is her time management.  She doesn’t have any.  She is the only person I have ever seen that can look like she is running her arse off and is actually getting NOTHING done.  She can take a simple selling transaction at the pharmacy counter and turn it into a long ordeal.  Every thought that passes into her head comes out of her mouth. Everything that CAN be explained MUST be explained even if its completely reduntant.

Here an example. Say a customer says ” I missed a meeting today because of traffic”.  I would say “bummer man”.  END of conversation.  Sandy, on the other hand would launch into a long diatribe.. “yea that totally is a bummer because I have to depend on the bus to get me to places so I completely understand and it seems that all the time they are late or there is traffic and its becomes totally impossible to get to places or the bus doesnt’ go to where I need it to go and I have to get a friend to take me which makes them mad yadda yadda yadda”.  OMG…you may think I am exaggerating..  I kid you not.  THIS is how every conversation goes with Sandy.

She has to ask every customer of they want a bag..or if they want the receipt in their hand or in a bag….”STICK THE RECEIPT IN THE BAG AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT ONE SANDY”  as the line grows longer than the premier of Twilight.

And..her questions.  She has to ask me a question about everything…and I mean EVERYTHING.  At first I chalked it up to her wanting to do things the way I preferred them.  At least that what SHE said when I finally threw my hands up in the air and asked her “Can you accomplish any task without asking me about it?”.  This is a true example:  “Sandy, will you go over to Mc Donalds and get me a Filet o Fish?.its only 1 dollar..heres the dollar”.  I wanted her to take my dollar, go to McD and get me a fish sandwich.  Simple HUH??  Not so much….” Oh, would you like  coke too?  How about some fries, you haven’t eaten much lately?  Do you want me to go now? Or do you want me to wait til Tina comes back from lunch.  Do you want me to take my lunch at the same time and if so do you want me to bring it back AFTER I come back from lunch? or before? 

I think my head exploded.

We finally had a sit down pow-wow and went over line items that needed to change.  I told her about the time management issues and why the days she worked were so much difficult than when Tina worked. We talked about the long lines at the cash register and how she can make them better (SHUT UP for starters). And we talked about attendance and tardiness, and how when her shift begins at 9, it means be-ready-for-work-at-9-and-not-combing-hair-getting-a-coke-and-changing-shoes-at-9.  She promised to make the change. She promised to be on time. and she promised she would make the effort.

The very next day she called me at 15 minutes before 9am and left me a txt.  “I dont think I can make it in today, my leg hurts”.  I txted her back “unless your leg has been removed from your body, you need to come to work”.

Sadly, that was the last straw. The previous week 5 hours late because of a Dr’s appointment she had made 4 months ago but “forgot” about.

I called the office and asked that she be placed back on the float team and a different person cover for the medical leave.  I was sad because I felt I had failed in transforming this tech.  I truly felt that by providing 1) a stable work environment that she liked (she said she loved my store) and 2) stable hours that she would be on time/and work more efficiently.

I broke the news to her the other day.  She had some tears, but she clearly understood that she had used up a lot of chances beyond the normal. 

Sandy has taught me some skills however…how to be tougher. ..how to be more of a manager than a friend because with Sandy, I have had to learn to separate the personal from the professional: something I think we all can relate to when we work closely with people for so long.   At work I have to be a manager..a professional..and if it means having to be tough on an employee then I have do to it.  Being soft has cost me.

Its tough being tough.

5 Comments »

Comment by Beloved Parrot

January 30, 2010 @ 9:38 am

Sadly, that’s one of the first lessons all managers have to learn — well, good managers, that is.

Glad you’re a good manager.

sometimes, Parrot, only sometimes. but thanks!

Comment by PharmacyJim

January 30, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

It’s pretty tough sometimes to know when to give them a kick in the behind metaphorically and when to gently encourage them with kid gloves. After 30 years of doing this, sometimes I’m sure I get it wrong.

Comment by rxkerber

January 30, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

I am going through the exact same thing with ALL of my techs in varying degrees. The attendance problem i.e ailment of the day, is the fastest worker. The slowest worker is the most personable. The “lead” tech barely does any work. I’m never sure what she’s up to unless she is at data entry which gets backed up fast. Unfortunately I am stuck in friend mode and am trying to figure a way out to boss mode.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy

January 31, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

It’s very hard. You did your best.

Comment by Georgia RPh

February 10, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

Very tough situation and exactly why I refused a management situation. I am horrible with personnel issues, esp. being young and having to keep much older people in line. So I do all of my manager’s paperwork (not his strong suit) and let him play bad cop (which he does really well).

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