By Julia Taylor
Ah, the ever-present pursuit for those of us in life sciences training & education — continuously raising performance and, more importantly, achieving outcomes in our dynamic business landscape.
We advanced commercial coaching excellence by applying key learnings from a host of developmental investments, stakeholder alignment and leadership support. We’ve raised the bar with our field coaching framework, which was built by our field leaders for our field leaders (plus some strategically placed direction from our Commercial Excellence team).
The challenge we faced is that many of our already-great field leaders are tenured and built their “coaching expertise” over many years. Initially, the idea of creating a field coaching framework to elevate field outcomes was often met with comments such as, “A new leader might need a coaching framework, but I’ve been doing this for a long time,” or “You know, our business is different from the others, so we have to coach differently.”
The responses were not negative, but our field leaders were a bit puzzled with our initiative.
Consequently, here is how we brought our leaders to a place of interest, adoption and promotion of our field coaching framework. It started with our senior leaders identifying several first-line leaders to serve as role model coaches across product portfolios.
From there, we conducted a multitude of one-on-one interviews inquiring about each leader’s philosophy and approach to field coaching. Remarkably, the businesses had many field-coaching similarities and almost identical actions.
We compiled the commonalities and an authentic coaching philosophy, and a simple framework of key actions emerged.
Although we could have stopped there, we didn’t. We kept the conversation going with our role model coaches and asked them, “How do you know as a leader that your part in the coaching relationship is effective?”
Sure, “sales results” were mentioned, but we forged ahead and asked, “But besides sales results, how do you know if you as the leader are delivering the best field coaching possible?”
That question bore a critical element of continuous improvement, as the leaders themselves expressed, “I need to self-reflect.”
The role model coaches worked together to finalize the key actions (skillset) and self-reflection questions (mindset) for each component of the field coaching framework. After piloting the framework, they were able to share their first-hand experiences that have accelerated their growth and field coaching impact during our organizational rollout.
Since the launch, we have regularly scheduled one-hour leader sessions where both our role model coaches and field leaders share tips on how they are using the framework to tackle tricky coaching situations. Among the best-practice sharing, there are always experienced and vulnerable leaders who encourage the group to slow down, follow the framework and self-reflect, because that has made the biggest difference to their field coaching impact.
The results of our field coaching framework remain positive as we have other areas of the company requesting to “do this too.”
What happens next? We continue our quest to continuously increase performance and outcomes in our dynamic business landscape.
Julia Taylor is associate director, commercial coaching excellence, for Horizon Therapeutics. Email Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.