Hickey’s Pharmacies, an Irish-owned Community Pharmacy Group has been a member of ISME Skillnet since 2015.  Mike Curran, Operations Manager for the group, speaks about the experience of becoming a member of the network, and the impact of ISME Skillnet’s Essential Management Skills programme on their business and their staff of 300 people in 28 outlets throughout the country.

“In early 2015 Hickey’s Pharmacies were looking for a management development programme for our store managers, as part of a strategy to provide expert medical healthcare to our customers.  Our goal was to find a course that would add to our managers’ knowledge base and skillset, whilst getting them to challenge their thinking and develop into managers that could grow their store as a whole, rather than managing through task completion.  During an internet search, I came across ISME Skillnet’s Essential Management Skills programme and it almost exactly matched our needs.   Once the course had been reviewed and quality confirmed through references, we began discussions with ISME Skillnet.

Following discussions with ISME Skillnet, and amendments made to refine the course for our needs, we were ready for the first group to start.  Eleven store managers began the programme in June 2015 and by the end of the year another two groups completed the programme, with a further group in 2016 completing.  In total, over 40 store managers and managing pharmacists have completed this programme.

As part of this programme, participants are required to complete an in-company improvement project.  We asked the participants to choose a project that would benefit their store, but needed to also be expandable to the rest of the stores.  They all devised their project with guidance from their line manager and ISME Skillnet before starting.  The participants were then assigned a subject relevant mentor by ISME Skillnet, to help them understand and complete the project.  We had a great variety of projects, from recruitment procedures, to service marketing, to internal communication and sales processes.  All the projects have been successfully completed and since then each of the managers have presented during our quarterly managers meeting.  Hickey’s Pharmacies have taken on board centrally a number of their ideas and expanded on these which have and are to be implemented.  For example, we have reviewed our internal communications, induction for new staff, focused link selling, time management, marketing, medication management and many other valuable areas of the business that we can continuously improve on.

As well as contributing to the success of the company it has also been progressive in the personal development of the individuals involved.  Participants have commented that a key takeaway has been the peer to peer learning that took place during the modules which developed relationships that have carried on since the course, adding to improved internal working practices and growth of the business.

The course has become an integral part of our internal training and succession planning, developing our staff to understand best practice approaches, gain insight into their own working practices and move from a task management approach to a skill and personnel management style.  ISME Skillnet continues to work with Hickey’s Pharmacies and for us the accessibility, reliability, adaptability and professionalism of ISME has helped make this program the success that it is.”

Three Hickey’s Pharmacies store managers gave their feedback on the ISME Skillnet Essential Management Skills programme:

“It highlighted the things I was good at but also gave me an insight into the areas I needed to improve on.  From day one if you had told me that I would have had to get up and present in front of all the managers and senior management I would have said no way but by giving me the skills to complete a well-structured project it gave me the confidence to present it to said audience.  I think completing the course with other managers from Hickeys was very beneficial too as we were all able to give each other advice on problems that we may have been having and to encourage each other too.” Deirdre O’ Dwyer, Store Manager, Newbridge.

“Having completed the ISME Skillnet course last year, it has developed me as a manager to lead my team more efficiently.  The skills I learned from the course I use every day and has made me a more productive manager.  From completing this course, it highlighted to me that I wanted to further my studies which led me to commence a Retail Management Degree this year.” Nathalie O’ Connor, Store Manager, Phibsboro.

“Through ISME I found the course has really helped me as a person inside and outside of work, it lifted my confidence as a manager and a person and had thought me to have more trust in my skillset and abilities.” Beverley Metcalfe, Store Manager, Fortunestown.