Below are strategies, culled from real-world pharma launch experience, for keeping the varied professionals on your team aware and engaged, despite the FDA's approvals that inevitably pop up at holiday time, or calls for REMS creation.
1. Meetings are a must. But a meeting doesn't have to be a 30-minute affair, with bells and whistles; sometimes during the hustle and bustle of the launch process, rounding up the team for a quick 5 minutes will suffice to communicate a change in priority and allow key members to get back to what they do best, armed with the latest information.
2. Put rumors to rest. Rumors often run rampant during a launch, and negative ones can torpedo the enthusiasm and resolve of your team. It is your responsibility to ensure the reality is the prevailing story out there, by communicating as quickly and clearly as possible.
3. Never forget to follow up. Whether your follow-up is an e-mail recap of an important meeting, forwarding an important communication from the FDA for further details, or simply checking in on a team member who has been tackling the challenge at hand, it pays to reiterate or assess status of current key initiatives to ensure actions are being carried out effectively and efficiently.
4. Foster ownership of the change with flexibility. Outside of FDA mandates, give latitude where possible to team members in coming up with the “hows” of meeting shifting needs. This will open up the floor to creative solutions and focus energy in a constructive manner.
5. Praise the met milestones. Keeping score on the positive achievements of your team—and pointing out those wins—enables your team to appreciate its progress before being asked to turn on a dime in terms of how they have been contributing to the launch.
Change is inevitable when it comes to launching a biotech product. The launch process has so many up and down moments, so many hurry-up-and-wait scenarios, so much potential along the way for your team's momentum and enthusiasm to ebb and flow.
A good brand manager steers his or her team adroitly within the lanes of regulatory appropriateness, but also must know how to communicate change and keep the team's energy high, even when the going gets unpredictable. Your communications and actions should be the stabilizing force in the throes of the erratic approval process.
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