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Keeping the dream team alive

Every company I have worked in there has always been a period where the team is working as a well-oiled machine, there’s a sweet spot where everyone works so well together it’s almost as if we are all perfectly in sync and can read each others’ minds. This magical period though always seems to be so fleeting - either someone leaves, new people join or something else disturbs the balance and struggle as we might, we can never recreate it. Sometimes all it takes is one person who doesn’t fit or connect, who doesn’t pull their weight or who doesn’t share the team vision that lets the whole team down. What if instead of rotating people in and promoting people out, we had such a thing as portable dream teams? Teams where everyone works beautifully together in harmony and harnesses eachothers’ strengths, perfectly back filling the knowledge gaps of others. Where it’s a safe space to discuss real issues and overcome them together. Where one person ends, another begins. Also, where promotions and development are still possible. Sounds like a fantasy right? There are many industries where such ‘dream teams’ are deployed, for example accounting teams coming in to do an audit or building teams who execute a build and then start on another project. So why then is this not so readily applied in the Pharma industry especially for periods that require intense work such as launching a new product or device? There are many reasons that might make it harder to employ this approach in Pharma companies. One major problem is that we might collectively be so focussed on the outcome not the journey, prioritising the longer-term goals over the lived experience of the team (more on this coming up). Also, for certain individuals who are subject matter experts, they might not always want to leave a particular therapy area. So what steps can we take to get closer to the ‘dream team’ ideal? Firstly when new people join an established teen, instead of choosing someone who is a good individual contributor, we need to understand what type of leader/personality they are and if they are a good fit for a team. To do so, we need to ask the right questions such as: do they have emotional intelligence? Do they have a certain skillset that matches the team? It’s important to note that working in the same team with the same individuals for years is not optimal, having fresh ideas and bringing in new people should be welcomed, but the right people. Likewise for creating a new team, we need to match the skills, competencies, leadership styles and personalities. Finally, make it easy and acceptable for people who work well together to move as a unit (those who can and wish to that is). Over the years I have had a couple of colleagues where they are the yin to my yang such that if they asked me to jump ship and join them, I wouldn’t even hesitate to ask questions other than ‘when can I start?’

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