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As of March 1st, 2016 this will be my new Impactiviti HQ:

Impactiviti HQ

 

On February 22, we close on this house that is just 10 doors down from the place we’ve been renting here in Franklin, TN.

I love working out of my home, and having a bright sun room adjacent to my office is a real bonus. When I’m talking with you on the phone, I will undoubtedly be pacing back-and-forth between those rooms, which is my favorite way of multi-tasking.

For the observant – something is missing in the picture above. Can you find it? ;>}

Since I’m asking the question, you can probably guess my answer: Yes. Here’s why I think so…

With some exceptions, commercial training departments in biopharma companies tend to be thought of as “order-takers” for the more high-profile Sales and Marketing departments. “We need this done – toss it over the fence to training.” Ever seen that sort of approach to the training department before?

Deservedly or not, training tends to be viewed as a place for tactical execution. Add to this fact that many of the roles in commercial training tend to be rotational (successful sales people moving through the training department toward roles in marketing or sales leadership) and it’s easy to see why the default identity for training might devolve to “merely” a support function.

Hence the need to pro-actively create and reinforce a clear value-adding identity for the training department – a “brand,” if you will.

One of my most interesting assignments last year was to work with one training department on establishing a brand identity, including key principles and practices demonstrating the value (to the organization) of the training group. In an upcoming LTEN webinar, Jason Zeman (Director of Sales L&D of Valeant) and I will outline how we developed a brand identity with the department, and how that brand shapes the vision, leadership, and practices of the training staff.

The key question we worked with during our brand session was, “How does the Learning and Development group uniquely add value to our organization?” You’ll discover how “Developing Value” became a key mantra in the Valeant training brand.

Developing Value

Join us on Friday, March 4th (12:30 ET) as we discuss with you how branding goes beyond just a logo and a catch phrase, and explain the practical impact of a department identity that demonstrates ongoing value. Register for the webinar here.

 

When you’ve been in the life sciences industry for as long as I have, you’ve seen dozens of major organizational changes. Downsizing due to patent losses; re-configurations due to M&A; reactions to new market conditions – you name it.

Ch-ch-ch-changes. They often have a direct impact on the field force.

Training is impacted by these shifts, and often needs to participate through training/re-training personnel. Sometimes, a company needs to call on change management consultants to help with the planning and execution.

Here is a case study provided by one of my partners outlining how they worked with a client to successfully execute a major organizational change requiring a re-structured field force: Case Study Organizational Change

Ch Changes

Impactiviti helps you find the optimal vendors for all your outsourced training and consulting needs. Contact us today (asksteve@impactiviti.com) to discuss your needs and we’ll help you with targeted recommendations from our suite of valued partners!

There are lots of coaching programs and approaches, though I suspect that many of them overlap quite a bit. But when I hear that a coaching program “isn’t working,” I generally wonder if it really has anything to do with the quality of the program itself.

I suspect we’re dealing with implementation and pull-through issues, leading inevitably to a lack of coaching quality where the rubber meets the road (out in the field).

Quality pic

Improving coaching practices involves changing habits, not giving out more information or enforcing new acronyms. A half-day coaching training session won’t automatically translate to productive behaviors in the field.

It seems to me that a combination of two things will best lead to an increase in coaching quality:

  1. A data-driven analysis to diagnose the current state of practice, and to define “what good looks like” – along with a prescription to move from A to B (one of my consultant-partners specializes in this).
  2. A structured and realistic roll-out/reinforcement plan that ensures peer-reinforced improvement as the coaching approach is implemented.

I had a chance to interact deeply with one of my established Selling/Coaching partners about this crucial element of reinforcement – they feel that it really is the key to success with any coaching (or selling!) program.

How has your company been doing with improving coaching quality? Do you have some ideas or best practices to share? Send me an e-mail at AskSteve@impactiviti.com and let’s compare notes.

The StrengthsFinder approach has gained quite a bit of (deserved) traction in the corporate arena – in fact, it was the “Now, Discover Your Strengths” book that has shaped my entire approach to business and career consulting.

But some companies seem to take a “one-and-done” approach – an assessment and/or workshop to identify strengths, but little or no pull-through shaping how people understand their own styles, and manage their teams.

In particular, first line sales managers often struggle to effectively build teams, coach their reps, and increase overall engagement. We provide the standard coaching and management training – but does it work well?

In my mind, strengths assessment joined to a long-term, personalized, sustained leadership approach seems optimal – but is anyone actually doing this? This gets beyond isolated training events, into strategic culture change (see Gallup article on 12 Elements of Engagement).

strengths

If you’re using StrengthFinders (effectively, or maybe NOT effectively yet!) for management/leadership development in a biopharma company, I’d love to discuss it with you. Shoot me an e-mail at AskSteve@impactiviti.com and let’s compare notes.

In my discussions with dozens of training clients over the past year, one theme that came up regularly was the difficulty of finding long-term vendor/partners for POA meetings.

Here are the kinds of concerns I’ve heard:

“A training vendor will start off well, but then things get stale after a few quarters, and we move on to someone else.”

“Our partners do great with modules and workshops, but the POA training is often a mixed bag.”

“We’re not seeing much creativity.”

I’ve wondered about this problem/opportunity for quite some time, and while I think there are probably multiple factors at play, here is one thing that may be at the root: fundamentally, POA training is driven by last-minute scrambling.

Most of our training projects, which involve long cycles of design (including instructional design), review, and implementation, require a set of skills and practices that are more systematic and long-term-ish. But POA meetings are often marketing-driven, and marketers are used to a different agency type of relationship that regularly involves rapid change and quick turn-around. And a lot of stuff is going down in the couple weeks before a very hard deadline.

Are training vendors equipped for that? I think many are not.

Marketing agency relationships (retained AOR) and training vendor relationships (project-driven) run on very different business models. I wonder if this isn’t why it’s difficult for vendors to succeed with POA training.

Maybe there are some other reasons as well. What are your thoughts? What are you doing to make your POA training effective?

Developing Trainers

I had some interesting discussions last week with training professionals in the Life Sciences industry, and one of the topics that came up was our approach to developing those rotating into (and out of) our training departments.

Some companies have a pretty well-defined training program for trainers, while other have good intentions, but not much of a plan (or too many time demands to carry it out).

As I see it, there should be (ideally) 4 “buckets” of emphasis when on-boarding and developing trainers from the field:

Training-specific skills (basic level) – such things as facilitation; basic ISD; adult learning principles; etc.

Operational/Functional skills – HQ orientation; MLR review procedures; project/vendor management; etc.

Corporate collaboration skills – influence with/without authority; communication (verbal, writing); networking; etc.

Next-role-prep – specific training as the employee gets ready to transition to a DM or Marketing or (whatever) role.

What do you think? Are these the right categories? What are other topics that you cover in your department?

The question also came up as to whether there should be defined competencies at the front and back end of training rotations – seems intuitive that there should be, but I’m not sure many departments have them (does yours?)

By the way, LTEN offers many of these topics in their Total Trainer Certificate Series. Joining those courses with other customized in-house and outsourced workshops should provide quite a strong foundation for the development of trainers into successful corporate performers.

LTEN TTC

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