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Before I move on the next period, I wish to share some key learnings from the first period which I ended on leaving Hoechst, and of the Wanderings of next two years. I did not understand then, but I knew these later with the benefit of hindsight and more learning.

Career Planning is Essential. The med reps who started before me, with me, and later, joined Pharma Sales by accident, not by choice. The profession paid well, it looked glamorous with five-star hotel meetings and all that, you didn’t need ‘connections’ to get hired, and it looked respectable. As the progression to next step was quite slow, no one got impatient or jittery for several years. This created a ‘false sense of contentedness’ which kept sales staff working, without thinking about where they were going. But it was largely a ‘purpose-less’ life. Younger people lived in the day and enjoyed, but you could see tiredness in more senior med reps. They did not enjoy the same things anymore. And, with due apology, they were not learning anymore; they only became more frustrated and bitter.

The MNCs particularly created an aura of make-believe to keep people attracted and engaged. There was no career development plan at the organizational level. The onus was on Reporting Officers and Managers to develop the staff with their own tools; some of whom did greatly and others poorly.

Career Planning helps the individuals to see where they will go and how to reach there. Business pressures besides, it must be done. Career Planning is an organizational activity where the reporting officers and Managers work with the individual and the HR over time. Potential must be identified, coaching must be done, and progress must be monitored. Most individual failures are probably organizational failures and the cost is high at both ends.

Career Planning is an investment which the organization does in its business. It is not an expense. The staff who see the future growth more clearly, and know they are being developed for it, are highly engaged. They perform better and last longer. It is a win-win for both.

The onus of Career Planning is also on the med reps. They should plan your future and work toward it, even if no one else may seem to do it. After all, it is their career on line, and they must be more concerned about it. Self-Development is the course for employees to start with, followed by seeking opportunities to use, hone and show their skills.

Coaching is Essential. The Pharma has been working on this subject for a long time. As a Manager, we were trained on what coaching was, and how it was to be done. There were elaborate plans for on-the-job coaching. The District Field Managers/ Sales Managers/ Seniors did pre-call analysis before going into the doctor’s chamber. After the call, they did post-call analysis. Few companies also required paper work on this. Pre-call analysis set the objective for the call and how to achieve it; post-call analysis determined whether the set objective was achieved; what worked right and what did not work. At the end of a day’s work, everything would be summarized, and some developmental tips/tasks would be given. As it was built into the system, it was done by most and almost invariably.

Coaching is a great activity, but it requires skills. Lately, Coaching appears to have been relegated to the back-burner and is facing extinction. The Managers at all levels are over-stretched and over-stressed, and do not have adequate energy (and skills) to do it. During the last several years, I have heard reporting officers asking their reportee to ‘manage’ ugly and tough situations by themselves. They don’t give any input on how to handle. If the poor reportee had had enough skills, the ugly situation might not have developed in the first place. And if the reportee must ‘manage’ himself, then what is the Manager there for.

Coaching is essential and is to be done constantly. Coaching builds and develops skills, which help to build solid, stable business. Coaching must be done formally and the ground to accept Coaching should also be prepared for greater acceptance and application.

Engagement is Essential……

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