Dear Colleagues!  This is Pharma Veterans Blog Post #448. Pharma Veterans welcomes sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Continued from Previous……

We are discussing common management pitfalls that are seen among the Pharma Sales Management ranks.

Rushing to Judgement – Managers are usually (over)confident about their judgement ability. They believe they can quickly observe, process, synthesize and make a judgement. It is mostly a perception, rather than a reality. The managers, however, tend to rush to judgement. If it was limited to judgement, the situation may be less dangerous. Problem is that the decisions are based on judgements. If the judgement is flawed, the entire set or series of decisions will become flawed, and it may have serious repercussions. Many a career have been damaged, and many opportunities have been lost due to improper judgements.

The solution is to give time to making a judgement. The time should be proportionate to the seriousness of the matter. Career decisions of self and others are serious matters. Investment decisions are serious, Strategic decisions are serious, and cannot be left to chance or rushed judgement. On the contrary, deciding what to eat is an inconsequential thing, and should not be allowed to consume time

Rushing to Offer Solutions – The old question is ‘should the boss know answers to all questions?’. There are numerous articles which say No. The manager is not omnipotent that he would know solution to every problem. But the managers somehow insist on giving solutions immediately upon hearing the problem. There are two problems with this approach.

One, the manager has not even understood the problem in totality. Incomplete information can only lead to half-useful information. Two, the manager has not taken enough time to think through the problem. The solution may be entirely in some other direction.

The better way is that the managers must gather all relevant information, understand it and then discuss possible solutions with the team. Another way is that the managers encourage the team to suggest possible solutions also when they bring the problem. In this way, the team will be trained to think not just about problems but solutions also. Secondly, it will provide the manager with options to choose from.

Acting without Understanding the Landscape

In my observation, I have seen two types of managers. They may come from outside or they may be homegrown. One kind of managers bring their agenda with them. They do not care what the ground realities may be. They just implement their agenda from the day they take over. The other kind of managers bring ideas only. They come, take over, observe, analyze and understand the landscape first. Then they refine their plan and start implementing.

It is undeniably true that an agenda without understanding the ground situation is a non-starter.  Some of those who appear to be doing so may have actually done their homework in great detail, but project otherwise. It is common knowledge that most of the famous sentences uttered extempore by Britain’s Winston Churchill, had been written and curated by him for many days. He expressed those in such a way that appeared instant and impromptu. Do remember that he was a political leader, not a manager. Also note, that despite all this, he lost the next election.

Managers, for the sake of organization, team and their own sake, must not act without understanding the landscape.

Delegating: too much or too little – Delegation is a sore point with most managers. They either over-delegate, take a back bench and tend to look passively. If the things are going downhill, they would let it happen till it becomes too late to recover. On the contrary, some managers refuse to delegate anything at all and keep everything to themselves. Keeping a balance between over- and under-delegating is the solution.

Delegating is a whole subject that we shall take up separately also.

In fact, many of these points merit more detailed discussion individually, which we shall do in due course of time.

The summary is that the Sales Managers in Pharma suffer from several management pitfalls. It is not a complete list and many more can be listed. The point is made however, I understand.


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