Tim Paget has carried out a survey of executive coaching among doctors in the pharmaceutical industry. His contacts recognised the role of coaching at the top and called for it to be available more widely in their organisations.
Many doctors seek the varied challenges presented by roles in industry instead of the traditional world of clinical medicine and work with patients in the National Health Service. In the pharmaceutical industry these doctors work in research, scientific departments supporting the marketing of medicines, drug safety and other such functions. Many head up large medical departments and some progress to very senior roles in the business.
These people are all in roles which are diverse and changing fast in a fast moving industry which is under public scrutiny. When they join the industry many meet diversified new issues relating to politics, business strategy, self assertiveness and inevitably some prejudice. They have legal and ethical obligations to fulfil in a business environment.
All of this stacks up to challenge of the highest degree – perhaps the reason why it is difficult for them to find the time needed for themselves and their own development and support.
Management development needs unmet
In a telephone survey of 16 doctors who are medical directors or in senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry, Tim found that technical areas of development were well supported but almost all identified management and personal development as the area of greatest unmet need in terms of their training.
Of course this is where coaching fits in and 15 of the 16 participants had come across the concept of executive coaching, though only four had actually had a coach.
A coaching role
Many of the doctors surveyed identified coaching as a means of supporting their continued performance in this environment and focused on performance, objective setting and management of particular issues. Those that had been or were being coached also experienced relief from stress and other benefits. Development of inspirational leadership qualities, consolidation of training, and learning by coaching with each other in an organisation were all mentioned.
Fourteen out of the 16 participants felt that individual coaching could be combined with team coaching for optimal performance. This is an area where they are starting to experience the value of coaching for themselves and recognising how it could add more value if used more widely in their organisations.
Personal development plans
Only six of the 16 had a personal development plan, and, although in 70% of cases their jobs had changed significantly during the last year, only two had received any form of defined training or manager support directly relating to the change.
Coaching at the top
Whilst there was recognition that the most senior people in the top positions rightly receive coaching in many organisations, most of the participants felt that coaching could and should be made available more widely in organisations such as theirs.
The principle still applies that starting at the top is all important, with the leaders in organisations sharing the value of what they learn with their teams and further identifying other individuals and teams who can benefit.
Nearly all participants would want coaching away from the workplace and few favoured telephone appointments
Tim Paget is Managing Director, Navigate Medical Ltd