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What Leaders in the Pharma Industry Need to Do to Engage Their Employees

Source | LinkedIn : By Chester Elton

y Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton 

New York Times Bestselling Authors of All In and The Carrot Principle

We were presenting our research on employee engagement to a group of brilliant, yet cynical scientists-turned-into-managers at one pharma company in the Midwest United States. Halfway through a hard-fought session of winning these executives over to the idea that they might have to change their behaviors to actively engage their team members, one participant raised his hand.

“You know,” he said, “this is a bigger deal than we think it is.”

Everyone laughed. It was something we’ll never forget, and it made everything think. Indeed, this concept really is bigger than many leaders might imagine.

We’ve worked on employee engagement issues in the pharma industry for more than 20 years now; in fact, we got our start in consulting with some of the J&J companies in the Northeast. Over the years we’ve learned a few things about the pros and cons of leading teams in this ever-transforming industry. Pharma managers tell us they are expected to achieve ever-increasing levels of personal performance, all while providing daily direction and support to their teams, developing and retaining employees, hiring and firing, all against a backdrop of increasing complexity, regulation, and a relentless pace of change.

And yet the very best leaders we’ve worked with do share something in common: They care about their people just as much as they care about their team’s performance. In that regard, they engage their employees in tasks with an overwhelming sense of mission, they encourage their team members to grow and develop, and they recognize small and large steps to success.

Our research now encompasses 850,000 working adults—tens of thousands of those are in Pharma—and the research offers one significant finding for managers of every level: Employee engagement, done right, is a force that can be applied to unify a team and accelerate success. Engagement can bring focus to complexity.

But how does a manager engage their people? What really works has nothing to do with the perks that often gain headlines: game rooms, free food, happy hour, the latest gadgets, spa services, on-site gyms. No, what drives engagement in the new economy is less sexy, and will take some of our time and dedication to implement.

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