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Creating A Culture Of Action
Adam Ferrier
How to create an environment that allows people within pharmacy to better deliver on the healthcare needs of their customers. How to get yourself, your staff, and your customers to change…

How to create an environment that allows people within pharmacy to better deliver on the healthcare needs of their customers. How to get yourself, your staff, and your customers to change their behaviours – and get more healthcare-focused.

Can I ask you to please do one thing? Just one thing: stop reading this article right now and do something – anything – to create a culture of action. Here are some suggestions of things you can do right now (assuming you're reading this in your pharmacy):

• Ask a customer how you could better deliver on their healthcare needs.
• Write a list of three things you'll achieve by the end of the week and put it up behind the counter.
• Write the word 'action' on your hand.
• Talk to your staff and ask them if they have any suggestions.
• Get a piece of paper out and write down one thing you want to start doing and one thing you want to stop doing in your pharmacy.

Why am I asking you to do these very small immediate things to create a culture of action? Because, 'action changes attitude faster than attitude changes action'. That's possibly the most powerful thing I know about behavioural change.

• If you want to feel happier, act happier and smile.
• If you want to feel assertive, lean forwards and adopt a power pose.
• If you want someone to like you then ask them to do something for you.
• If you want to develop an action-oriented culture then start acting differently.

Creating A Culture of Action


However, this is not the only way to increase motivation to change – the other key variable is to create social norms around change, make it feel like the new way is the normal way and create a new social norm. For this to happen, you’ll need to be acutely aware that everyone needs to hear language that makes it feel like everyone else has already adopted a new way of doing something. Making it feel like it’s the new normal will make people want to step into line and adopt the perceived new behaviours themselves. Monkey see, monkey do.


The Behaviour Change Grid

Most of the work in terms of behavioural change now is about trying to increase motivation, but not by changing cognitions or emotional connection – instead, via trying to get people to act. However, increasing motivation via action is only half the answer. The other thing you may want to consider if trying to change the culture of your pharmacy is 'ease'. Make it as easy as possible for people to adopt the health-related behaviours you want them to adopt.

As you can see on Figure 1, the higher the motivation and the easier it is to do something then the more likelihood there is of someone doing it. Therefore what we want to do is make it easy for people within your organisation to do something.

There are two clear strategies to making something easier. First, increase someone's ability, and secondly, provide greater opportunity. Let's look at them sequentially.


To increase the ability of your staff to become more health-focused I'd start with skilling them up by providing them with good information and education about why you are doing this. Give them all a fact sheet about how you are changing the pharmacy, and explain to them the steps you’re taking to change. Further, ask for their opinions and get them involved in the journey of change.

The second thing I would do, is give everyone an increased opportunity to participate in the change. This will often take a bit of creative thinking and strategising what is the best way to create opportunities of change within the working environment. Making it fun is a good start. If there is a new set of health related behaviours you want your staff to adopt – for example, being more proactive in helping manage the health concerns of your patients, a fun thing to do could be to 'gamify' those behaviours. Turn it into a competition of who can be the most proactive? Let them compete with each other? Or alternatively, provide rewards and incentives to recognise the behaviours you want adapted.


So, to increase motivation for change via action and social norms is half the equation. The other half is to make it easier by increasing someone's ability, and giving people the opportunity for change. Put all of that together and you have the ingredients to create real behavioural change. However, perhaps the first thing I should have said – and I'm kind of glad it's last, is to set a clear vision of where you want to get to – all of this will become easier if you do. However, it's often hard to have a clear vision of where you want to get to. Despite all the puffery in management books I'm a big believer in 'ready, fire, aim'. You'll soon discover if your new actions are on the right path or not, and by going someone allows you to tack and respond. So, a vision of the future is great – but even without one it's OK to just start promoting action.

Now if you're still reading this – isn't it about time to stop and start acting?