5 Ways To Optimize Organizational Culture in Medical Affairs
by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev
The success and competing power of organizations including Medical Affairs depend on the commitment of their members, supporting their individual developments, ensure their participations, creating an organizational culture and make it stable for a period that all of the members in the organization share the common values and norms and these can be achieved with a leader who has good communication skills, high charisma and able to be source of inspiration and intellectual. Definitely universally efficient organizational culture of Medical Affairs cannot exist because the business environment in operating companies is always unique and changing, the goals and heritage are never the same and national cultures are different. The variability of influencing factors will always create special work-spirit and understanding of team mission. The role of Medical Affairs Manager/Director will be aimed on building of the organizational culture which on one side will originate from general corporate culture and on other side will support the mission of the department. 5 considerations below probably may be helpful in this process.
1. Engage Medical Affairs colleagues.
Numerous studies and organizational examples highlight the relationship between a highly engaged workforce and company performance. Highly engaged staff improve customer service, generate more innovation, advocate more for their organization, deliver higher quality, have lower rates of absenteeism and stay with employers longer. Furthermore in contrast to the marketing and sales departments Medical Affairs do not have motivating bonuses on the basis of sales plan fulfillment. The lack of link between the performance and the monetary reward, creates a special significance of non-material motivation. Based on the analysis performed by consulting agency Leadership IQ, there can be identified five factors of engagement applicable to organizational culture of Medical Affairs:
- Ensure that job candidates have the right personality. People who make up the team must initially demonstrate a creative approach to work and life, enterprise, and a desire to provide intangible value, as it is known that the work in Medical Affairs does not fit everyone.
- Continuous professional excellence in the team. Medical Affairs Managers should encourage with own example development of their employees and continuously look for talented people who could potentially fill up the team.
- Managers should hold employees accountable for their performance. Setting goals and monitoring progress may be delegated to staff where possible.
- Mentoring spirit is crucial. Managers should do the mentoring function where needed, give professional feedback and support their team. Rough criticism of the staff should be excluded from management.
- Exclusion of finger-pointing. Creative spirit in the team inevitably will sometimes lead to errors. It is extremely important to eliminate the habit of looking at colleagues mistakes and blame them, demonstrating instead that the error is only a new lesson for the team.
2. Ensure 'ad hocratic' values
With its responsibility for the access to scientific information Medical Affairs makes a great contribution to introduction of innovative pharmaceutical products and services to the rapidly renewing scientific community. Thus organization culture in Medical Affairs should strengthen innovation and should not interfere with this process. These conditions require Medical Affairs colleagues' flexibility, creativity, entrepreneurship spirit, openness, risk taking (’ad hocracy’ features). It was found that product innovation is positively associated to 'ad hocracy' cultures and has a negative relation with hierarchical cultures. Hierarchical cultures' features are stability, internal orientation, which favors decision making by authority, high formalization, emphasis on internal processes, and which would be negatively related to innovation. Since Medical Affairs culture is always a combination of both approaches, managers should probably continuously work on development of 'ad hocratic' pole, encouraging such qualities as flexibility, creativity, entrepreneurship, openness, and minimize the damage from the hierarchical pole, without excluding it totally.
3. Switch from compliance to Integrity
Attempting to overcome possible 'moral silence' of Medical Affairs employees when faced with issues that violate corporate values requires switch from compliance-oriented culture toward a culture based on integrity. Formal codes and other internal formal regulations that emphasize compliance are necessary, although informal mechanisms that are based on relationship-building are more likely to achieve moral excellence. Genuine dialogues and appropriate managers' ethical decision-making practice can deepen the understanding in the team and create a mindful awareness of ethical values and induce trust that embrace both complying with rules and regulations, as well as inciting creative ‘ethical innovation’ with respect to human interaction in Medical Affairs. To establish a culture of ethical business practices it is probably beneficial for the head of Medical Affairs to operate in three key areas:
- Create a clear picture of a new future and explain why Medical Affairs need to be an example of ethical business behaviors in the company.
- Develop and structure business processes that will contribute to the desired behaviors.
- Consistently demonstrate the desired behaviors by own example.
4. Provide clear and meaningful mission to the team
Medical Affairs managers should clearly explain the employees that their contribution is crucial for saving or improving lives and letting people remake the future. They are no more just providing access to medical data, but they are the leaders that are able to change the world through innovative products and information services. Medical Affairs is known as a very credible organization in Pharma industry, so it may make an honor to belong there. If the conversation is real and manager serves as example of her/his own words the team will get most clear understanding of WHY Medical Affairs is contributing. Also probably it is important to consider that clearly defined and agreed tactical objectives can make all the difference between a year of collaboration or contentiousness, productivity or discontent.
5. Introduce culture of service for stakeholders
In Medical Affairs that are serving for internal and external stakeholders it becomes a challenge to simultaneously remain a leader and to do your service function according to expectations and needs. Is it ever possible to serve and lead at the same time? Hopefully yes. According to my understanding Medical Affairs leadership is an ability to come with "third alternative" proposals to both groups of stakeholders based on their needs and contribute for the long-term future of the company remaining the trusted partner. Thus basic requirement from Medical Affairs is keeping focus on stakeholders' needs. The only way how managers can drive change in the direction of service culture is to continuously lead by own example.
1. B. Smith. The Future of Pharma. 2011.
2. M. Sandhya Sridevi. Employee Engagement: The Key to Improving Performance. International Journal of Business and Management Vol. 5, No. 12; December 2010
3. J. Naranjo Valencia. Organizational culture as determinant of product innovation. European Journal of Innovation Management Vol. 13 No. 4, 2010, pp. 466-480
4. Creating an Ethical Culture: A CEO’s Checklist. www.pharmacompliancemonitor.com