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CAREERS

Preparing for Appraisal

Most pharmaceutical companies now have a very robust appraisal system which measures not only your sales/activity performance but also your skills set. This should produce a fair evaluation of not only your performance in terms of sales and activity but also the skills that you bring to the table. These can have quite an impact when you are working on a territory with three or more people selling a particular product. Hard data What we mean by hard data is the black and white figures of quantifiable data. There is no room for ambiguity – you either hit your sales target or you didn’t. Each representative should start the year with a set of performance objectives which may look something like this:

  • Sales versus target
  • Sales growth year on year
  • Market share/market share growth target
  • MAT sales versus target
  • Coverage and frequency of target list
  • GP/Nurse/Hospital Doctor call rates.

Whether you like it or not, the success of your company will ultimately hinge on you and your team members’ ability to hit these targets. The national targets will have been painstakingly broken down to sales force, region and representative level and your part is vital in ensuring the future prosper-ity of the company, and ultimately the safety of your job is ensured. The performance objective element of the appraisal will therefore often account for the biggest percentage of the final score. For example:

  • Performance objectives 70%
  • Skills 30%

Why have skills become a vital element of the appraisal now? These skills, which remain essential for a success-ful representative and a successful company, need to be recognised and rewarded. Your planning and organisation may be exemplary. You may be the senior representative who deputises for their man-ager when they are on holiday, a representative who is a great team player, always ready to give advice, always enthusiastic and determined to succeed. These are all attributes, which you may recognise by the names ‘critical behaviours’ or ‘competencies’. These skills are also vital to the success of the com-pany and therefore need to be recognised and rewarded. You may have a very successful territory because of your predecessor but have very poor communication skills. Should your whole appraisal be based on sales? – I think not. It needs to be a balance of the two so that any territory anomalies are ideally resolved through this combination of data and skills and a fair outcome achieved. The behaviours may look like this:

  • Planning and organisation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Working as a team
  • Analysis.

Preparation for the Big Day You should always review your previous appraisal document (if you have one). Appraisals are part on an ongoing developmental process and not a stand-alone assessment. Clarify the appraisal process with the person who will be doing the appraising about what preparation is needed and what you need to bring along on the day. Performance objectives

  • Ensure that you are clear as to what your performance objectives are.
  • Gather the relevant data so you can produce performance versus target data, e.g. RSA data, sales league tables etc.
  • Document all the relevant information in a simple form, ideally no more than one side of A4 paper.
  • If you are confident with computers, put the data on an Excel spreadsheet.

Behaviours For each behaviour being measured collate the relevant documentation as evidence. This could be in the form of:

  • Letters of commendation
  • E-mails from colleagues
  • Evidence of continual learning – a certificate from Pf for CPD learning
  • Copies of presentations you may have given
  • Documentation from meetings/conference you have contributed to
  • Certificates awarded on training courses.

Ensure that the documents are cross-referenced to which behaviour they apply to. You may find that a letter of commendation relates to more than one behaviour and so should be referenced accordingly. HINTS Make sure that you have summary documents for the performance objectives and the behaviours. Based on the information that has been produced, attempt to work out what your final score will be. If you have done all the background work properly you won’t be far off the mark, and you will also impress your manager. DO NOT turn up at your appraisal with a filing cabinet full of information. Your appraisal historically should last around 3 hours and your manager does not have the time to trawl through hundreds of sheets of paper. Be positive and upbeat. Your manager will have to do up to ten appraisals and these can be physically exhausting. If you have been working with your manager for the best part of the year and have not been successful, an appraisal is not the place to argue this lack of success; an appraisal is about a review of what has happened. Be prepared to discuss your training and development needs for 2003. Be prepared to discuss your career plan for 2003. Appraisals are not a time for surprises or a smack on the head; they are time for an objective review of your performance in the previous 6 or 12 months. There should be no shocks from either side and you should both leave the meeting satisfied that the appraisal has been a fair and objective review of your performance. GOOD LUCK!

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