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Pharma Marketers’ Blog: Identifying the Right Technical and Softer Skills Needed

Authored by Maxine Smith, Managing Director, Uptake Strategies for the PME Pharma Marketers’ Blog

The start of the New Year brings with it all sorts of good intentions. We faithfully promise ourselves that we will stop this and start that, do more of one thing and less of another.

But as you strive to develop and drive the strategies for your brands and portfolios, you may like to consider if you have identified the right technical and softer skills needed for your team’s success.

There is also often relief when some of the gaps are identified.

There are so many great resources available to build your team’s capabilities – reading resources online, gamification, simulations, case studies, specialist training organisations with expert facilitators and, of course, internal company resources for learning and development.

As the winter holiday break becomes a distant memory and the ‘execution mountain’ makes way for the start of the strategic planning season, do remember those good intentions of expanding your capability.

Read below or click to access the published version

How the team’s capabilities need to evolve to deliver successful strategies in a changing and uncertain world

The start of the New Year brings with it all sorts of good intentions. We faithfully promise ourselves that we will stop this and start that, do more of one thing and less of another. We often use the end-of-year holiday break to take stock and reflect on where we need to focus. But then January comes along and with the release of a new budget, we frequently find ourselves in an execution frenzy as we start to implement the plans we have carefully crafted. This burst of energy to deliver pushes aside all thoughts of self and team improvement as we battle to climb on top of the execution mountain.

Ok, so ‘execution mountain’ may be a little over-dramatic, but from my conversations with colleagues and clients over the last couple of weeks, it has become apparent how often our good intentions are quickly squashed and battered. You may find the energy for individual self-development or self-improvement, or there could be a training or capability programme that is rolled out to enhance your specific expertise. But as you strive to develop and drive the strategies for your brands and portfolios, you may like to consider if you have identified the right technical and softer skills needed for your team’s success.

For our medicines and brands to be successful, we not only need to define the best strategy to implement but we should also be looking at how the capability of a team needs to evolve to deliver in such a changing and uncertain world. The following three questions are a great place to start the diagnostic for your team:

  1. Have you and your cross-functional team mapped out the key capabilities you need in 2023 (and beyond) to be successful?
  2. Have you identified the gaps and potential new skills to build?
  3. Do you have a plan in place to build these capabilities and evolve your ways of working?

When I run brand and team capability audits with my client teams, they often generate immediate ‘aha’ moments! In our virtual and hybrid working world, an investment in new skills, team working and new ways of working through some targeted, practical training can be incredibly motivating.

It is a unifying and empowering moment when team members with strong individual skills and capabilities observe how collectively they are better equipped to drive the future strategy for their brand or portfolio. There is also often relief when some of the gaps are identified. Individuals regularly feel that they are the only team member struggling in certain areas, so to realise that this is a team area of development is reassuring.

Identified gaps will more often than not fall into the ‘how to’ category and not the ‘what’. By that I mean they are capability gaps that are needed for the team to:

  1. Work more effectively together, eg understanding working styles, managing conflict and pressure as a team
  2. Think differently using techniques from problem-solving tools, design-thinking approaches or working in an agile way for productivity
  3. Acquire strategy-based capability, eg effective competitor management, portfolio strategy development, loss of exclusivity planning
  4. Build practical skills in customer/omnichannel analytics, designing and facilitating virtual meetings using new technology solutions.

There are so many great resources available to build your team’s capabilities – reading resources online, gamification, simulations, case studies, specialist training organisations with expert facilitators and of course, internal company resources for learning and development. The biggest challenge is often in carving out regular small chunks of time as an individual and as a team to leverage these resources.

As the winter holiday break becomes a distant memory and the ‘execution mountain’ makes way for the start of the strategic planning season, do remember those good intentions of expanding your capability. But this year take it that step further and spend some time with your team ensuring that you are building the right capabilities for the team’s strategic success.

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