Can Pharma Middle Managers Be More than Corporate Water Carriers?

We've just published, in print and online, our latest cover story: “The Good Fight: The Plight of Pharma’s Middle Managers.” It’s a rich, timely topic, given the fact that much of the finger pointing regarding the industry's problems is aimed at mid-level professionals. Or they are implicitly faulted, as upper management absolves itself of responsibility. (See J&J’s recent internal report on the problems at McNeil and DePuy.) Middle managers are often seen as “expendable” and are let go (as happened at Pfizer-Wyeth) or, at times, viewed as incompetent and Dilbertesque.

That’s far from the truth, of course. In a sidebar to the main article, we speak with several middle managers (some anonymously) about the trials and challenges of their work. I find it refreshing that most of them appreciate the difficult spot they’re in—between senior management and production floor workers—but relish the chance to make a difference in their companies and in the industry.

In the main article itself, several industry consultants discuss the dangers of “being the good corporate water carrier” and offer their advice on how pharma’s middle managers can establish relevance and find success.

Thanks to all those who helped in researching this article. Here are links to the main and related articles:

The Good Fight: The Plight of Pharma’s Middle Managers

Tales from the Middle (talks with industry middle managers)

Shoring Up Pharma’s Middle Management: An Interview with Maxiom’s Scott Chizzo

Jane Chin: How Pharma’s Managers-Once-Removed Can Claim Relevance

Managing Change Management in Pharma: A Talk with Bill Wilder

Wharton’s Ethan Mollick: Why Middle Managers May Be the Most Important People In Your Company

--Paul Thomas

 

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