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Case Study: Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ Development Centres

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Development centres are well established as a method of measuring the capability levels of individuals and spotting potential for the future. Trained observers gather data on performance and collate reports, which highlight a person’s strengths and development needs. This provides participants and managers alike with high quality feedback, which they can use to maximise the strengths, address the development needs and also improve business results.

Bayer’s pharmaceutical business group has been running development centres for many years as a key component of its field forces’ strategy to manage talent and develop its future regional business managers. In addition, it demonstrates the commitment of the business to the personal growth and career development of its employees – crucial in an industry with attrition rates in the sales force of over 20 per cent.

Commitment

Development centres however require commitment – it is vital that they are kept up to date and accurately reflect the needs of the business, and also that the skills of managers, who act as observers, are regularly refreshed so that they provide high quality feedback. Additionally, centres can prove very costly in terms of administrative resource. Consequently the pharmaceutical business group set out to find a more efficient way of running them.

It asked Bayer Management Consulting (BMC), part of Bayer Business Services, to review and redesign the centre to ensure that it reflected the current needs of the business, that observers’ skills were maintained and enhanced, and that the centre was run using reduced administrative resources.

BMC provided a simple two-pronged solution. First of all it introduced specific training for the managers who were brought in to act as observers. Managers agreed to this because although they had been doing such work for some time, it was an opportunity to enhance their skills still further.

Secondly, BMC introduced the use of technology to record and collate observations and feedback, which has reduced the amount of administrative resource needed to run a centre by 70%.

Results

This solution has delivered a number of key benefits to Bayer’s development centres, which include:
* The introduction of manager training has resulted is higher quality feedback.
* An increased ability to identify talent and ensure appropriate development for the future.
* Positive feedback from participants and managers.
* Management involvement and ownership through participation as observers.
* Reduction in costs and time to run the centre through the use of technology.

Overall it now has a centre where it can assess the capabilities of individuals against those it knows it needs in order to deliver business results for the future.

Participant feedback has been excellent with reports that they found it very challenging but enjoyable as it provided a great development opportunity. Employees also valued the investment that Bayer made in them with a number taking part in a management development programme preparing them to take on greater responsibilities in the future.

Mike Bee, national sales manager, Bayer Pharmaceuticals said: “This centre is key to the ongoing development of our field force, providing a significant opportunity for our sales force and also for our managers. The high quality feedback means we can be confident we are identifying talent for the future, as well as improving current business performance by ensuring our people get the development they need.”

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