Pf Awards – the countdown begins

by Emma 26. September 2011 14:29


The countdown to the Pf Awards 2012 has officially begun. The most exciting awards ceremony for UK medical sales professionals has now launched and is open for entries for what promises to be yet another competitive and compelling occasion.

The Pf Awards are unique. Not only are they supported by the ABPI, but all candidates entered into the process are nominated by their company and not the customer. This ensures that only the industry’s top performers get to take part – guaranteeing competition of the highest possible standard.

The awards are now in their 12th year and continue to recognise high achievers within the industry. They have evolved and been developed over this period using feedback from the industry, judges and an independent advisory board.

As always, our purpose and vision is to deliver a cross-industry awards programme which rewards excellence in pharmaceutical sales in a variety of categories. With this in mind, three new categories have been added to the selection of accolades to be presented in 2012; Sales Team, Joint Working and Customer Recognition Awards.

In the coming months we will be taking a look at each of the categories and outlining key criteria for potential candidates. We begin by examining the Joint Working, Medical Representative and Account Team Awards.

Joint Working Award

The new Joint Working Award has been introduced to recognise where a working relationship with a customer has made a meaningful difference to patients, or patients’ services. There is no set length of service required to be nominated for this category, although compliance with the ABPI Code should be demonstrated. To be considered, there must be positive feedback or endorsement from a customer and both parties must have a vested interest in the joint working initiative. Candidates can be in either a field-based or office-based role. During the assessment, candidates are required to give a short presentation outlining their joint working venture.

Medical Representative Award

The New Medical Representative Award, which has been a longstanding category at the Pf Awards, has been renamed as the Medical Representative Award. Candidates should have up to five years experience in a primary care role within the industry at the point of entry. An ABPI examination pass is also required. Candidates will be asked to participate in a company product sales call, complete a written case study and also present a pre-prepared presentation.


The Pf Awards 2011 winner of the New Medical Representative Award was Claire Carr (pictured) of Astellas. The award was Claire’s first as a medical sales professional and although she found the process to be demanding, it was also something she relished and embraced. “The experience was a challenging one from the initial nomination all the way through to the application process and then assessment day and presentation,” she said. “It was a tough, but very enjoyable day.”

Account Team Award

Key Account Management is currently playing an important role in the sales and marketing strategies of most UK pharmaceutical companies. Consequently, the Account Team Award is arguably one of the most relevant categories. Candidates need to demonstrate working to a clearly defined account plan. Teams also need to have a clearly defined account management structure in place and must work across multiple disciplines within the account. They also need to implement a degree of autonomy to select practice accounts and stakeholders.


The Assessment Day will be held on Wednesday 14th March 2012 at the King Power Stadium, Leicester – formerly known as the Walkers Stadium. The Pf Awards Dinner takes place on Thursday 22nd March 2012 at the Lancaster London Hotel.

How can I enter?

If you or a colleague would like to know more about the Pf Awards, the categories, criteria, and how to enter, please visit

McLaren helps GSK drive performance

by Emma 19. September 2011 09:47


GSK and the McLaren Group have entered into a long term strategic partnership until at least 2016.

The McLaren Group will share its knowledge in engineering, technology, analytics, and strategic modelling to help improve performance across GSK’s global divisions.

Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman, McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, says the partnership “engages two great British companies” in a “multi-faceted and ground-breaking way”.

A new state-of-the-art learning facility will also be built as part of the agreement at McLaren’s Headquarters in Woking by 2013.

The partnership will initially focus on GSK’s manufacturing, research and development and consumer healthcare divisions.

Glaxo will evaluate whether it can use McLaren’s engineering and technical expertise to its own manufacturing processes. It’s believed that McLaren’s approach, technology and processes it applies to its Formula 1 team could lead to improvement in GSK’s production line performance and improve cost and customer service.

The pharma company’s R&D organisation is also examining whether McLaren’s expertise and technology could improve their own clinical research processes by increasing the speed of trial design, and allowing for real time patient monitoring and treatment adjustment.

Also its Consumer Healthcare business will work alongside McLaren’s Formula 1 unit which analyses team performance during a Grand Prix to enable GSK to respond quicker to competitor activity and customer needs, and inform decision making on various issues. Analytical and performance management tools developed and used by the Group will also be utilised to improve GSK’s ability to come to faster decisions around longer term investments.

Andrew Witty, GSK, CEO, says the partnership highlights the company’s innovative thinking which continues to look for “inspiration and fresh perspective” from outside the sector on how to achieve its strategic goals.

“I am delighted to announce this partnership with McLaren which brings together two British companies whose continued success hinges on the ability to innovate and rapidly respond to change and competitor activity,” said Mr Witty. “McLaren has an unparalleled reputation for innovation built on rigorous analytics and fast decision making.”

McLaren boss Ron Dennis says the agreement is the first between the Group and a major pharmaceutical corporation. “Specifically, our intention is that GSK will harness McLaren’s world-beating Formula 1-bred technology, processes and operational dynamism, in order to enhance its performance across a wide variety of its divisions in a way that none of its competitors can match,” he added.

Blood gas analyser helps GB Rowing Team

by Emma 12. September 2011 11:41


A monitoring technology used in hospitals has helped the GB Rowing Team to train for the current World Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

As the team’s High Performance Partner, Siemens Healthcare has provided them with a RAPIDPoint 350 Blood Gas analyser (pictured), which helps to monitor the athletes’ adaption to intense training.

By monitoring their blood gases, the team can identify any imbalance that might lead to loss of breath or development of a stitch.

The RAPIDPoint analyser is small, lightweight (less than 8kg) and easy to use in a wide range of environments. It delivers results in just 2 minutes.

David Tanner CBE, the GB Rowing Team’s International Manager, commented: “The use of the Siemens RAPIDPoint 350 is a very good example of the partnership between Siemens and the GB Rowing Team. There is no question that this has helped the GB Rowing Team to improve performance on the water.”

According to Chief Coach Paul Thompson, “Using this analyser allows coaches and support staff better to monitor, direct and individualise the rowers’ programme to maximise the training effect and their race readiness.”

Helen Glover, World Cup winner 2011, offered a user’s view: “The testing involved with the RAPIDPoint 350 is painless and non-invasive. The results have been very helpful to me in understanding how my body reacts to intense periods of training.”

“Our RAPIDLab300 is a small, low-maintenance and easy-to-use system, making it ideal for hospital critical care environment and a huge range of other testing environments, including sport,” said Afia Boamah, Blood Gas and Stratus CS Product Manager at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Medtech Olympics

by Emma 9. September 2011 17:04


With less than a year to go until the London Olympics, Medtech Business is launching its very own showcase of skill and achievement: the Medtech Olympics

Reward and recognition are considered to be among the key characteristics of an engaged workforce. But how do employers set about delivering it? Where can talented employees get public recognition for their achievements? The answer is right in front of you.

Medtech Business is giving medical technology companies the chance to recognise employees who have demonstrated true Olympic qualities of determination, endeavour and ability in the workplace. And delivered outstanding results in the process.

We will be recognising achievements in the following categories:


Sales and Marketing Excellence
for employees who have delivered outstanding results on a specific project

Leadership and Management
for managers who have demonstrated true leadership, effective planning and strong management

for teams that have delivered outstanding results

for employees who have effected meaningful and innovative change within their company or in a customer-facing environment

Best Newcomer
for employees who have been with an organisation for less than one year and demonstrated exceptional achievement

So who is giving some gold-medal performances in your organisation? Who has really raised the bar and achieved outstanding results? Who deserves to be on the corporate podium when the national anthems are being played?

How to take part
To nominate a colleague in any of the above categories, simply send us their name, job title and 50–100 words on why they deserve recognition, along with your own full contact details – and we’ll do the rest. Each month, we will be publishing the best of the best.

Send your nominations to

Medtech Olympics – recognising talent
in medtech sales and marketing

Guess who?

by Emma 29. August 2011 16:50


It would seem that there’s a job perfectly suited to match the personality of each of us. However, despite various tests and metrics introduced to discover what role best suits certain individuals, Ian McGarry reveals it’s not quite that simple.

The words ‘know thy self’ were reported to have been inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Attributed to the Greek philosopher Thales, this proclamation urged the ancient to develop a greater level of self reflection and insight. Despite our obvious similarities as humans we are temperamentally very dissimilar from each other.

Understanding why we are so different has, over the centuries, vexed the minds of philosophers, doctors and psychologists alike. One of the earliest attempts to account for behavioural differences dates back over two thousand years. Galen, a Roman physician, distinguished four temperaments; melancholic (sombre, unhappy), choleric (irritable and easily angered), phlegmatic (apathetic, sluggish) and sanguine (cheerful, optimistic) which he thought, incorrectly, provided an insight into how individuals should be treated medically. His theories still survive in various forms to this day, though thankfully not so much in medicine!

The temperamental differences that obsessed Galen are the basis of what we have come to term our ‘personalities’. Over time, there have been numerous attempts to theorise, define and measure these qualities. It is only in the last hundred years or so that we have developed the psychological and statistical tools to move beyond speculation and metaphysics into more scientifically quantifiable concepts.

What is personality?

Personality refers to those enduring characteristics and traits that enable a person to be recognised as a distinct individual. Although not the whole picture, psychologists generally agree that personality plays an important role in how people behave. Many would urge caution however in assuming that personality underscores all behaviour, and this is especially true concerning our ability to perform and achieve success.

Though we may broadly agree what personality means there are still plenty of differing approaches taken to both quantifying and measuring its specific facets. A cursory glance at all of the models available to psychologists and organisations reveals a plethora of different personality tests all claiming to highlight the most revealing components of who we are.

More often, psychologists and researchers rely on a five-factor model developed by Costa and McCrae. Often referred to as ‘the big five’, this is available as an assessment tool (NEO-PI-R). This evidence-based model maintains that all the various structures of personality can be represented across the following five dimensions:


In short, your personality can be successfully represented as a measure of the combination of, and the level at, which you score against each dimension. But, whilst interesting, does it actually tell us anything about our potential for success in life?

Personality at work

It may be easy to accept that certain personality types may fair better at jobs more than others. We even tend to stereotype some professions by personality attributes, for example, introverted accountants or extroverted sales people. Understanding personality in order to predict behaviour is an attractive idea for those interested in personality research. As you may imagine, ascertaining someone’s potential performance in a job is an extremely attractive proposition for employers who want to match the best people to their vacancies, or promote those they believe have the greatest potential for success.

There are numerous personality profile tools on the market and many of us will have some experience of these in our working lives. It would be rare to meet someone in the pharmaceutical industry for example who hadn’t undertaken a personality test at an assessment centre, as part of a job application, or a personal development program. The associated costs of employing the right people for a job can be potentially massive leading some firms to try a variety of measures, some unfounded – such as handwriting analysis – to sort the ‘wheat’ from the ‘cha­ ’.

If used wisely, robust personality profiles may contribute to an overall view of a candidate where other assessment methods have also been implemented. Personality measures are unlikely, however, to provide a definitive picture or an accurate prediction of a person’s potential performance.

Personality and performance

Whilst personality traits are useful ways of describing external behaviour, they are problematic if we are referring to stable internal causes of behaviour. Suggesting that a person is angry about something because they have low levels of agreeableness – an angry personality – is similar to proclaiming the sea is wet because it has the quality of wetness.

You may have experienced this misuse of personality concepts yourself if you have met someone excusing their own behaviour on the grounds they are a particular ‘social style’. Unfortunately, whilst this may seem a reasonable justification on the surface, it is a bit nonsensical. In a similar fashion to the example above, it is akin to proclaiming that their radiator is hot because it has the quality of heat.

With the exception of the trait ‘conscientiousness’, there seems to be no universal personality factors that can be used to predict with any accuracy measures of a person’s success at work.

In order to successfully link a personality trait to work performance we have to understand what performance actually means; this in its self is a difficult undertaking. While we can accurately say good performance in sales is about selling more products, it is much harder to delineate the component factors of good sales ability.

A list of sales competences may fail to take into account a host of additional factors that contribute to performance, for example:

  • Differing sales context
  • Differing demographic cultures
  • Personal issues
  • Motivational factors
  • Company culture

These can be just some of the significant variables influencing performance outcomes. Perhaps in the future ‘job performance’ will be better understood, enabling a clearer link to emerge with personality traits. But until then, assessing personality as a criterion for any prospective job performance will be more an art than a science.

A clear understanding

Despite the above caveats, learning about the diversity of personality types can be very useful for the development of teams and cross-functional groups. Learning to understand interpersonal di­fferences encourages people to widen their appraisals of other’s behaviour and what it may mean. This may potentially expand a group’s behavioural norms. For example, a manager I worked with described her team as an “up for it, go getting team…except Dave, who is quiet and thoughtful …but that’s ok, we realise he prefers to reflect and someone needs to….!”

Without this level of insight it is an easy step for a group unaware of their own dynamics to ostracise and exclude people whose personality style is even slightly at odds with the group norm. To avoid communication breakdown people need to be flexible to other’s ‘styles’.

This can ensure that people like ‘Dave’ have the necessary psychological space to contribute and grow in teams that may be composed of more extroverts. As well as helping us understand other’s diverse approaches to life, personality tools help us understand our own behaviour. “Oh wad some power the giftie gie us. To see oursel’s as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion,” Robert Burns.

As individuals we are often blind to certain aspects of our own style and the impact it can have on others. Using personality metrics to understand our own personality can be revealing and very helpful as we seek to follow the still relevant advice ‘know thy self’. Gauging the a­ffect you have on others from a different position can, as the poet Robbie Burns suggests in his oft quoted poem, save us from many a blunder.

Useful personality metrics

Whilst the amount of personality tests and systems available are far too numerous to cover in this article, most fall into one of two categories:

  • Normative tests: These involve measuring your relative score on separate traits and contrasting these against group norms, such as either the general population or specific group, for example NEO-PI-R.
  • Ipsative tests: These prompt you to make choices between di­fferent options on a questionnaire. They are mutually exclusive so that choosing one option prevents you choosing an alternative. When calculated a profile will emerge that places you into a predefined specific category and various social style systems which confer labels and types to people. When people complain or rejoice at being ‘pigeon holed’ it is often the Ipsative type test they have experienced.

Which tests work?

Well, that depends on what you want to do with the results. There are a lot to choose from. Profiles available through the British Psychological Society (BPS) registered psychometricians are likely to be evidence-based and robust enough to confer some useful insight. As mentioned earlier, there is a growing consensus amongst researchers that the big five as represented by the NEO-PI-R test capture real functional di­fferences in personality in a relatively straight forward way.

Additionally, some new developments in the realms of ‘emotional intelligence’, although controversial with some psychologists, can provide a di­fferent take on behaviour and these can prove useful, especially when considering team dynamics and interpersonal skills training. Emotional Behaviours at Work (EBW) is one example of this type of test.

In the end

It seems common sense that certain personality types are good at certain jobs. While there may be some broad truth to the idea that certain temperaments gravitate towards certain job types, in the main, personality tests are not currently reliable indicators of individual career performance or success. There are too many possible variables at play, both in the types of personality assessment used and the how we might define performance in any given context. Personality tests can be an excellent way to develop insight into your own behavioural tendencies and those of others. Thus helping foster better/more tolerant relationships and strengthen teamwork. So, if getting on with others is important to you and your work, knowing who you are does matter.

Ian McGarry is an international business psychologist. He can be contacted directly at

Head strong

by Emma 26. August 2011 15:03


The difference between success and failure is often determined by mental strength. Apodi’s Tony Swift recalls his own experiences in sport and business to discuss how a confident and positive attitude is the first step towards high performance.

Whilst talent can be a good indicator of future performance, ask any experienced manager of a high performing team and they will tell you that talent in itself is not the only requirement for achieving success.

The world is awash with talented people who never achieve their full potential. In all walks of life there are numerous examples of wasted talent and people who fail to ‘make it’. I believe that the major reasons for talented people failing to make the grade fall into two categories:

1) A lack of mental toughness
2) Inadequate preparation.

A scared rabbit

I remember returning from the England rugby team’s tour to South Africa in 1984. The tour had been unsuccessful and few players had done themselves justice. The then lead rugby correspondent of the Sunday Times, Stephen Jones, wrote an obituary of the tour and described that I had played like a scared rabbit in the headlights. I am sorry to say that the analysis pretty much hit the mark and caused me much introspection over the following

The fact was that despite my natural talents, in big games in front of huge crowds and millions watching on television, I failed to perform at a level that my skills justified. Many observers were perplexed about this failure to perform and thought there was no obvious reason for it.

However, over a period of time, it became clear to me as to the cause of the under performance. At that stage I simply was not mentally tough enough to cope with ‘big time’ rugby. There were a number of occasions where I tried to hide on the field of play and
felt it was better to do nothing than get involved and risk making mistakes.

A few years later, Stephen Jones had become one of my biggest advocates and wrote a number of effusive articles about me, particularly in the latter years of my rugby career. Although by this time my natural physical attributes were starting to wane, my performance on the field was improving. This was almost solely due to an improvement in
my mental toughness and a willingness to perform.

What is mental strength?

Mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables people to cope with the many demands that are placed on them to perform and, specifically, to be consistent and remain focused, confident, resilient and in control when
put under pressure.

Mentally tough employees will normally display the following key psychological characteristics:

  • Self belief – an unshakeable belief in
    their ability to achieve their goals
  • Motivation – an insatiable desire and
    motivation to succeed, despite any
    setbacks that they encounter
  • Focus – an ability to remain focused
    despite distractions that may arise
  • Composure – embracing pressure,
    stepping up to the plate and an
    ability to remain in control despite
    unexpected events.

My experiences in sport heightened my interest in high performance and the impact of mental toughness within a business setting. The questions that particularly interested me were:

  • Are some people more naturally
    mentally tough than others?
  • What factors are important in
    developing an environment where
    mental toughness flourishes?
  • Can mental toughness be coached?

A born attribute

It appears that mental toughness can occur naturally. Some people seem to have a genetic disposition to toughness. I have studied numerous individuals at the start of their sporting or business careers who appear to have the mental toughness to succeed – even when
they are just at the beginning of their career journey. The reason for this could be due to either inherent natural toughness or the environment in which they grew up in – or even both.

Given that mental toughness may be inherent in some people, it makes sense to ensure that this quality is assessed during any recruitment process. After all, it is clearly preferable to recruit candidates who already display the traits of mental toughness, along with a
talent for the task at hand.

An assessment of mental toughness can be made during the interview stage and through the use of specifically designed questionnaires. However, I have to say that within the pharmaceutical sector I have not yet come across any company which systematically assesses mental toughness at the interview stage, or indeed at any other stage during ongoing staff appraisals.

The right environment

I believe that in my sporting career the biggest single factor that transformed my ability to perform was the change in my playing environment when I joined Bath Rugby Club. The set-up and the atmosphere at Bath had a profound effect on my thinking and my mental
strength, and I believe there were a number of key factors that had a significant role in this:

a) Success
When I joined the club the team was already enjoying some success. Working in this environment built my confidence quickly – after all, success breeds confidence.

b) Colleagues
Many of my teammates at the club were ‘mentally tough’ when I joined. The focus and self belief of players, management and coaching staff gradually rubbed off on me and eventually I started to apply their strategies and to display their traits.

c) Management focus
Right from the beginning it became apparent to me that the club was exclusively focused on becoming the most successful club in the land. Players had absolutely no doubt in their minds that they had to be an important cog in this success in order to survive.

d) Preparation
The team prepared superbly to ensure it was in a position to perform when it had to and significantly better than any of its competitors.

Of course, many organisations that want to succeed are not currently successful. To start on the journey of achievement it is critical that organisations recruit people who are mentally tough, prepare and plan superbly, and are driven by a management team with real focus.

Can it be coached?

To my mind mental strength can be coached. It involves considerable focus on improving personal skills in the following areas: technical, physical and mental outlook. As these skills improve, so does an individual’s confidence grow and higher performance will follow. However, in most commercial organisations, there is a disproportionate concentration on the coaching of technical skills and the other two areas are largely ignored.

Dr Saul Miller, in his excellent book Why Teams Win, surveyed 100 successful corporate leaders to find out what they believed to be the single, non-business factor that could most limit their personal and team success. Their response was ‘ill health’. Organisations are missing a great opportunity to drive performance if they do not seek advice and other assistance in improving the physical and mental health of employees.

The great managers I have worked for, and with, over the years are those who understand that a person’s mental well-being is a critical factor in their performance at work. These
managers focus on the following with their direct reports:

  • Establishing the right attitude and state of mind to build confidence
  • Programming the mind to think positively and to expect successful outcomes
  • Ensure excellent preparation and develop a routine that prepares people for success
  • Learning from failures and quickly refocus on the key issues and opportunities.

The first specialist fitness coach I ever worked with was Tom Hudson at Bath. Tom was superb at not only preparing people physically but also mentally. He always had a quiet chat prior to games and by the time he had finished I felt like I was the world’s best and ready to beat all-comers. It is a great pity that these skills appear to be relatively rare
in the commercial world.

Top coaches understand that each individual is different and have their own set of beliefs, habits and motivations. Coaching interventions need to be customised to the individual
and, if such coaching skills are not available within the organisation, then it would be a prudent investment to source such expertise externally.

Actions for pharma

In the increasingly competitive world of the pharmaceutical industry it is vital for organisations to harness and encourage well-being and mental fortitude in their teams. In order to achieve this there are a number of actions that can be undertaken:

1. Ensure that assessing mental toughness is part of the recruitment process.
2. Assess current employees and develop coaching interventions where necessary. Start with those employees where the requirement for mental toughness is most obvious. For example, sales representatives have to cope with rejection every working day of their lives – they have to be able to cope with this, refocus and get on with the job in hand.
3. To create the appropriate environment managers and ‘leaders’ of the team need to display their own mental toughness. If a team is unsuccessful, it will probably be due to an absence of such qualities in the leadership – the only way to kick start the journey to success is by recruiting these types of team leaders.
4. Preparation is enormously important in driving confidence and ultimately performance.
Companies should benchmark their own preparation compared with competitors and drive to be the best in the industry.

The evidence supporting the importance of mental toughness and preparation in performance is all consuming – the top performers in sport recognise this and focus much of their time on addressing these issues.

I believe that almost anybody can be coached to develop greater mental toughness and ultimately to improve performance. Unfortunately in this respect, many commercial organisations are not yet even at the starting post. They neither recognise its importance
nor know how to develop mental toughness in their people. Those companies that do are the ones on the road to success.

 Tony Swift is the Managing Director of Apodi.

Keeping Motivation and Performance High

by Emma 8. August 2011 15:31


Simon North looks at motivation in the workplace to achieve high performance and success.

Motivation is one of those concepts which relate more to outcome and output than it does to input.

In other words, it is the consequence of a sequence of situations, contexts and events which allows somebody to feel that their motivation is OK.

Where performance and motivation are similar is that performance also is about output. But both issues do require a sensible and sensitive approach to the way that people work. Giving colleagues a sense of the direction of travel that they and the team overall are taking, plus consistent and regular communications about what needs doing, as well as how they are doing in terms of their feedback, are fundamentals to keeping motivation and performance high.

The sensitivity issue comes into play in terms of listening and tuning in to every individual on a regular basis. This does not have to be formalised and structured as part of the standard appraisal process. This is much more about day to day management and supervision.

In a workplace where the war for talent is making it tough to find good workers and where key skills are likely to be getting scarcer, the need to treat people well increases every day. Avoid over-measuring --whilst it is important to measure outputs and performance, over-measurement can be a real irritant to high-performing individuals and may reduce their level of motivation for what it is that they do.

It is far better to have regular input sessions on being clear about the future and the team’s expected performance, followed up by frequent shorter feedback conversations both one on one and in small groups to check that the individual and the team are going in the right direction.

If it sounds simple that’s because it is. One of the biggest mistakes that we can make is to over complicate what is really a simple, humanistic process based upon personal relationships.

Simon North co-founded Position Ignition for Organisations, to provide innovative solutions to help organisations manage their senior and most valuable workers more effectively.

The right results

by Emma 26. July 2011 17:10

 In his latest article exploring the dynamics of high performance in the workplace, Apodi’s Tony Swift examines how line-managers have the power to determine whether teams are successful or not. Drawing on his own experiences, he discusses what makes a great manager and leader, and why measurements of success are so important.

According to Tom Peters, the renowned business guru, the number one source of dissatisfaction amongst employees is the quality, or lack of it, of the first-line management in companies, sports teams or organisations. For many employees not even the best pay and conditions in the world will make it tolerable to work for a bad manager.

The varying quality of management is a little surprising given the fact that most employees will quickly make their own assessment of the quality of management in the team they work for and, if asked, will readily give their opinion.

It is seemingly more difficult for senior management to make this assessment because there are considerable variations in the quality of first-line management and organisational structures may make it difficult to see where problems may lie. Yet it might be that assessing quality by senior management is not the problem per se. It could be that inertia and an underestimation of the important role that first-line management plays which enables poor management to exist in some companies in the first instance.

Throughout my own sporting and business career I have been fortunate to be managed by superb coaches and captains at various times. Conversely, I have seen some very poor attempts at leadership – even at the most senior levels. Superb coaches and captains have a habit of getting the very best out of the talent at their disposal. The first England international rugby captain I played with was Bill Beaumont. Bill had a number of attributes that made him ideal for leadership, including fearlessness, humility, amiableness and empathy. Even the most senior players within the team listened to him and respected him. When he retired England missed his leadership and for a number of years went through a very unproductive and unsuccessful time.

Therefore one of the most significant strategic business decisions any company makes is who to promote or recruit into management. For an organisation to make the most appropriate hiring decisions for management, a good starting point is to first of all identify what good managers actually do.

What great managers do

Here are just some of the practices implemented, and excelled at, by great managers:
1. Recruiting the right team – this is key to ongoing success. I have discussed recruitment in previous articles in Pharmaceutical Field, so please take a look at these for more ideas on this subject.

2. Setting the direction – simply put, people need to understand specifically what is expected of them and how they will be measured. Research undertaken by Apodi shows that this is not always the case. Many pharmaceutical companies are establishing Market
Access teams and Key Account Management teams to address the new healthcare economy. However, those that are being successful have very clearly identified the role of these teams, how they should operate, be measured, and constantly communicate the benefits internally to the rest of the organisation.

3. Enforce results, manage activities – successful sales people within the same teams often deliver required results through different types of behaviour and activities. If a manager attempts to standardise these approaches it may result in blunting much of the talent within the team. Good managers need to understand when to stand back and let the sales people deliver in the way which best works for them.

4. Making tough decisions – all managers at some stage in their career find that one of their reports is not going to make it. Good managers find this out quickly and act immediately. Poor managers let the problem fester – the effect of this is to undermine performance in the business and also undermine the manager’s standing within the team. Good employees tend to know when poor performing employees are being tolerated,
which can be incredibly damaging. That is because high performing employees tend to share a sense of mutual accountability which gives employees and teams the confidence they need to take on more challenging tasks. This is just not possible with poor performing
people. At its extreme, I have seen certain teams almost take it out of the manager’s hands and rid the team of poor performers when and if a manager prevaricates.

5. Work on strengths, not weaknesses – whilst it is possible to improve people’s weaknesses through coaching and mentoring, the improvements are often minimal. Many organisations waste considerable resources in this area and better returns can be realised

• focussing on people’s strengths

• designing the organisation in such a way that the strengths of an individual are maximised and the weaknesses minimised.

Figure 1 (see below) highlights some top-line research on the effectiveness of individual business development executives within a team. Each executive was marked out of five (1=poor-5=very effective) for different but relevant talents.

The research highlighted a number of factors. Each individual had particular strengths and weaknesses apart from Executive 1 who was a strong all-rounder. Rather than working on individual weaknesses it was decided that it would be more effective if the executives worked in a team environment – rather than as individuals – where their strengths could be maximised and weaknesses eliminated. The research also showed a general weakness in
the prospecting area and, rather than attempting to train people to be more effective in this area, it was agreed to recruit a new executive with specific prospecting skills.

6. It’s always ‘show time’– a number of the above practices are viewed as ‘hard edged’. Great managers complement these practices with the softer skills necessary to motivate team members. For example, making tough decisions is only respected by team members
when these decisions are fair and in the interest of the team as a whole – being tough for the sake of it wins no support or respect from fair minded people.

Great managers also know there is no let up – they are on ‘show’ all of the time as far as team members are concerned. This means displaying all of the traits they want displayed by their team members – hypocrisy just does not work in management.

Why measurement matters

If the key practices above are put in place and actively pursued, then high performance is the likely outcome. There are examples of this in every walk of life. Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United Football Club, implements these practices and displays
these attributes, which has resulted in a hugely successful career. From my own point of view, I have found it difficult to identify any high performing team where managers do
not display these practices, whether in commerce, sport or the charity sector. However, not all managers are in such high profile roles that their performance is there for all to
see. This is why it is so important for managerial qualities and competencies to be valuated against measurable criteria.

Measuring manager performance

When I review how managers are measured, it is rare to see all of these practices being part of the assessment process. I believe organisations would be well served by incorporating ways of measuring managers’ performance in their existing assessment processes in the following areas:

• The ability to recruit effectively
• Establishing the right direction for the team
• Enforcing results and managing activities – only when necessary
• Making tough decisions if required
• Coaching ability – focusing on strengths
• Having the ability to carry the team with you.

Measuring team performance

A common scenario we are seeing in pharmaceutical companies is where they establish a Key Account Management team and Market Access team but are then unsure as to how
well these teams are performing and whether or not the investment has been worth it. It is critical that they know the answers to these questions.

The primary reason companies are unable to answer is because they have not developed a measurement system the organisation trusts sufficiently in order to base decisions on. Market Access teams are typically established in pharmaceutical companies some 6-12 months prior to a launch of a product. Normally the role of this team is to create a favourable environment with the NHS to ensure maximum sales when the product is launched. Clearly in the first 6-12 months prior to launch there is no sales data and therefore the ultimate measure of success does not exist.

The company’s strategy has to be clearly defined and the team’s performance needs to be measured against this. It will usually be a mixture of quantitative inputs and qualitative
outputs. The reliance on qualitative outputs with its heavy reliance on subjectivity means that a company can only entrust the management of this to extremely competent, talented and experienced managers.

Getting it right

Pharmaceutical companies routinely make multi-million pound investments in the deployment of teams. As the guardians of such investments, the team management has to embrace, and be adept at implementing, the practices we have looked at. Therefore, not only is selecting the right management vital to success, but so is putting in place ongoing assessment of key practices.

An effective, results-based management process demands both superb management and effective monitoring in equal measure. It is likely that only when these particular conditions are in place, will true high team performance be achieved.



  Tony Swift is the Managing Director of Apodi.


Tag cloud


<<  April 2018  >>

View posts in large calendar

Month List