Despite a great range in functional specter of Medical Affairs people related to size and profile of the company, region, culture and many more factors – the basic philosophy of this organization remains more or less unchanged. This is an effort to summarize managerial tips for Medical Science Liaisons leading to success.
1. Specify concrete goals of your work. Unclear job objectives will lead to confusion. Make sure that your goals are reflected in your half-year performance agreement and you understand how to track your progress. Think about what you would like to do in 5 years and what steps will you have to undertake to get there.
2. Identify your key stakeholders within the company and investigate their expectations and values. Your cooperation with the national/global Medical Adviser and the business teams is an asset. Make sure that you treat your supervisor as your ‘customer’ as well.
3. Always keep in mind the total amount of your external stakeholders, as well as the number of your customers with whom you are collaborating most actively.
4. Develop and track an individual engagement plan for each of your external stakeholder, including the rationale, timelines, budget, responsible persons. This document will serve as the main evidence of your work. Besides you may use is as a ’contract’ with the thought leaders declaring your intents and commitments for the future.
5. One of the best ways to win the favor of the thought leaders – is to be engaged in social activities. To do so, always take part in scientific events, help carry out research activities, support the large-scale public initiatives of the thought leaders.
6. You can influence only when you are trusted. So build trust with your stakeholders. Medical Affairs people are known to be more credible than business for the medical society, this highlights the importance of earning trust every day. Be a good listener and be tolerant to criticism always trying to understand true motives and needs of people behind any communication.
7. Develop / participate in the development of your performance metrics. Metrics should be few, but very relevant. It’s a challenge to measure the intangible, still it is possible. On one side the metrics should reflect your real contribution to business and level of external stakeholders engagement, on the other they will help you to track your own development goals.
8. Regularly review and discuss the dynamics of your metrics with your supervisor. If you know that a planned value of the metric is unattainable, ask for advice from the medical affairs manager / medical advisor.
9. Respect the borderline with business. Despite common external customers and activities with marketing and sales, consider that you have different objectives and metrics for success. Moreover you are functionally different in off-label communication: business cannot disseminate it. You can do it upon unsolicited request.
10. Remember the difference between medical information queries, given at the initiative of the doctor (unsolicited request) and requests specified after the “tip” of the employee (solicited request). The second case can be regarded as an indirect promotion of the product. This is most important if the request is related to off-label data.
11. Continuously learn. This is not only about your therapeutic area where you are a definite internal expert. Take every day as an opportunity to learn something new that will help you to achieve your goals. Conflicts and errors are just our study material that makes us more professional.
12. Do not forget that your professionalism is growing not so much due to your wins, but more due to your failures. Try to appreciate every failure and mistake, take your lessons to become more professional.
Written by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev