As the healthcare marketplace continues to evolve, many pharmaceutical organizations are reevaluating how their organizational design supports their strategic priorities. Pharmaceutical companies are redesigning field based teams due to restricted access. For many organizations, the redesign provides better service to larger, more organized customers and ensures pull-through at the provider level. Specifically, field force teams need to change the way they think, plan, collaborate, and act in order to provide value and offer solutions. This type of large-scale change initiative requires more than just moving boxes on an organizational chart.

The following key considerations are based on lessons learned from various organizational redesigns.

Organizational Level Considerations:

  • What are we doing?  Why are we doing it?  What will we accomplish? There is a compelling vision to drive change, a need to develop, communicate, and reinforce this vision for greater buy-in and alignment.
  • Align organizational leadership to lead the change. Senior leaders need to focus on change execution with a well developed organizational cascade for readying leaders to guide others through change.
  • How will the organization’s culture impact change? Organizational change does not happen in a vacuum of the organization’s culture, thus it is important to pay more attention to the perceptions of past change efforts and look to shape the culture going forward.

Team Level Considerations:

  • Leverage Team Leaders. Organizations often underestimate the importance and organizational influence of middle managers in their change planning efforts. They fail to devote sufficient time or resources to ensure that they are prepared to transition their teams; thus the need for change agility.
  • Proactively assess risks, threats, and challenges. Each leader must translate the strategic goals and address how they will achieve the goals of the change effort with their teams. Team leaders need to accurately determine how the changes will impact their teams and diagnose strengths and weaknesses relative to implementing the change.
  • Support and Prepare Teams. Redesigns often result in new team formations, thus the need to dedicate time and resources to jump start teams with a consistent approach.

Individual Level Key Considerations:

  • Provide Individual Coaching and Support. Individuals experience emotional turmoil when change occurs at work similar to those they experience when major change takes place in their private lives (e.g., death, divorce, or relocation). They may react in complex, unpredictable, and sometimes contradictory ways. For this reason, managers need to be equipped to provide individual transition coaching and support.
  • Solicit Questions and Provide Feedback. Addressing change issues at the individual level involves addressing the “me” issues, making plans to help people accept the new reality, helping them understand how the change will impact them, and knowing what will be expected of them in the future.
  • Clarify Expectations and Reinforce Accountability. The organization and manager must be able to provide clarity about an individual’s role, responsibilities, and behavioral expectations. It is important to be specific and identify what behaviors an individual needs to start, stop, and continue doing to be effective.

Failing to anticipate and address the impact change has at the organizational level, team level, and for individuals spurs resistance, confusion, and results in low achievement of the strategic goals of the change initiative. This translates into:

  • Lower performance as employees are distracted by anticipated change, role impact, and potential job loss
  • Loss of high-performing talent due to uncertainty about the future of their role or the organization
  • Lack of trust in senior leadership

To avoid failure and to ensure the organizational redesign achieves its strategic intent, it is important that senior leaders think through and develop an execution plan that readies its leadership to drive the change.

Every organizational redesign is unique. WLH Consulting, Inc. (“WLH”) welcomes the opportunity to learn more about your organization and any upcoming or existing change initiatives.

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.

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