Vivek Mehrotra
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The pharmaceutical industry across the globe is undergoing a metamorphosis. Mergers and acquisitions have become the order of the day. The competition is becoming fiercer day by day in India as well. In order to stay ahead, pharmaceutical organizations are adopting all possible methods that can help them sustain their operations. Thus, in the present-day industry, a Field Manager’s job is not easy. A Field Manager is the extended arm of the management. He is the one who will have direct exposure to all the challenges faced by the industry. And these challenges are by no means insignificant.

In order to protect their business interests, post-2005, most Indian organizations are launching new divisions and new products. This has heightened the competition in the market. The number of medical representatives meeting a particular doctor or a chemist has increased considerably. Consequently, the time available with a medical representative to promote his products to a doctor or to take information from a chemist has reduced. This has put pressure not only on the medical representatives, but also on doctors and chemists. Doctors have to remember the names of more products while chemists have to stock them. The availability of ‘generics’ at an economical price has worsened the situation. Above all, the advent of new organizations, the BPOs (business process outsourcing) and ITeS (information technology enabled services), as well as the launching of new divisions by pharmaceutical organizations have increased the attrition rate of the field force. Due to increased opportunities, employees, especially medical representatives, change companies on petty issues, sometimes within the first month of their joining. Increased awareness among patients about diseases/ medications as well as the pressure from consumer groups also pose a lot of challenges to the pharmaceutical industry. The government’s regulations and controls too have proved to be a menace to the management of a pharmaceutical organization. As a Field Manager, your resilience and ability to survive in such extreme market situations will be the deciding factor for the success of your organization. It is important for you to know what your team members as well as the management expects from you. Apart from delivering results in terms of sales, your organization will certainly expect you to contribute to the growth of individuals. Also, your team members would expect you to guide them, apart from instructing them about what is to be done. It is important to note that the expectations of your team members and the organization are interrelated. The organization wants effective employees while the employees want to be effective. Thus the question is what needs to be done in order to fulfill the expectations of both your team members and the organization.

If you ask your team members to sum up, in just one word, what they are working for, the responses will vary from person to person. This idea can be illustrated with the help of a story. You must be familiar with it.

There was a big construction site; thousands of workers were working round the clock. Someone asked a worker what his job was. The worker answered, “My job is to put one brick over another and some cement and sand mixture in between.” The person went to another worker and repeated the same question, to which he got the reply, “I have to ensure that by evening this wall should be six feet high.” The person kept walking and asked the same question to a third worker who replied, “I am laying the foundation of a big castle.”

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