According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity, more than two-thirds of organizations include “collaboration” as one of their core values. Collaboration is not just a luxury within an organization. Research indicates that collaboration correlates with higher levels of market performance, leadership effectiveness, innovation, and creativity.

As the healthcare marketplace continues to consolidate with larger organized customers, life sciences companies rely more on effective field collaboration and account management to produce desired results, deliver value, and improve healthcare outcomes.

Senior field leaders reinforce the principles of collaboration, coordination, and communication. Unfortunately, what “good collaboration looks like” is not clearly defined at the organizational, team, and individual levels.

To create a culture of collaboration, it is important to leverage the guiding principles of culture change. The following recommendations are used to help drive collaboration at the organizational level:

  • Articulate the business case and how collaboration leads to better results, increased employee engagement, and efficient resource allocation
  • Showcase examples of success and define what “good” looks like. This will help teams and individuals apply these lessons in their own account plans
  • Define integrated account planning processes and business reviews
  • Dedicate resources to integrated account planning
  • Leverage technology to promote information sharing and access to data sources
  • Ensure performance management measures collaborative behaviors and achievement of shared goals

At the account team level, it will be necessary for the organization to provide support and resources that bolster account team collaboration. Listed below are a few helpful team guidelines that will strengthen account team operations and functioning:

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities; especially account leadership expectations
  • Ensure account leadership responsibilities and expectations are explicit
  • Ensure there are shared goals and objectives
  • Establish procedures for creating a team charter with supporting tools for ongoing account plan reviews
  • Provide tools that support information exchange and virtual working conditions

At the individual level, everyone is responsible for embracing a culture of collaboration. Managers need to be proactive when coaching direct reports on their working relationships with field counterparts. Additionally, managers need to reward behaviors, i.e., proactive information sharing, team problem solving (to increase access), and prioritizing pull-through activities to maximize a formulary win. Customer-facing employees need to shift from an individual territory mindset to a more collective and collaborative team that is accountable for achieving shared goals.

The following are a few helpful guidelines to strengthen collaboration at the individual level:

  • Align on shared goals and objectives
  • Prioritize information sharing within a large account
  • Ask, “Who else needs to know?”
  • Look for ways to increase access and leverage existing relationships for other customer-facing roles
  • Have the courage to address personal conflict constructively; gain support from others as needed

Leaving collaboration to chance will not produce desired results. Life science field organizations must adopt a proactive approach to improving field collaboration and coordination at the organizational, team, and individual levels.

Please feel free to contact us for more information on our 3 C’s of Collaboration, Coordination, and Communication program. Additionally, we can provide any other information on how our consulting services and learning solutions can help your leaders and learning organizations.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

Key Account Management