The Manager in Pharmaceuticals who becomes a Rep Again

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Managers in Pharmaceuticals….taking that step down….genius or weakness?

Being a Manager in pharmaceuticals is no easy task.  Depending on the company you work for, the level of responsibility varies.  With that said, I understand firsthand what it is like to work for a company where the level of responsibility was tremendous.  You feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  Additionally if you want to be good at it, there is no cutting corners, you are “all-in”….it is too hard to be successful if you are “phoning it in” each day.  You must be completely dialed in to win as a manager in pharmaceuticals because you are trying to influence the people that work for you as opposed to finding the motivation within yourself!  This is not always easy when you are dealing with people and this is perhaps why it is not uncommon for a manger in pharmaceuticals to take a step down to become a rep again.  Some view this is weakness and others view it as genius….it all depends how you look at it.  Sometimes the manager is asked to take a step down because maybe he/she just wasn’t cutting it and sometime he/she voluntarily says “I’ve had enough” and proactively steps down. Whatever the case, let’s take a look at some of the pros & cons of taking that step down.

The initial thought to hearing that a colleague is taking that step down is that it is a negative professional action.  Here are some of the cons to taking that step down and why so many thing negatively on the surface about taking that step down. Whether you take the step down as a choice or as a directive, in large part the cons remain the same:

  • It is almost (but not quite) impossible to get back into management within that same company.
  • Everyone talks behind your back from reps to management secretly inquiring as to why you took that step down.
  • Politically, within the organization, you are no longer an insider.
  • You no longer get to drive in a manager level vehicle (which are typically better than the rep vehicles).
  • You no longer get the manager bonus structure or stock options which is markedly better than the reps.
  • You no longer get your own room at the POA meetings unless you win some selling contest….or you lie about some medical condition like many do.
  • You now have to find the strength again to take lunch and coffee orders for the staffs of the office that you frequent.  You went from being beyond these type things to now again being a coffee and lunch delivery boy/girl.

Here are some of the pros to taking a step down and why perhaps many may view you as smart for doing so.  On the surface many view it as a negative professional action….but is it really that negative.  Take a look at some of the pros below of a manager in pharmaceuticals taking that step down:

  • You likely keep your salary even though your responsibility is decreased substantially.  This is a huge benefit and perhaps why many thing it is a genius move.  You basically just beat the system.
  • You standard of life or work/life balance immediately gets better as you have more time and less professional responsibility.
  • You travel less because you are not attending both manager meetings and POA meetings.
  • You no longer have to walk on egg shells in every meeting you have with the Regional Director because you likely will not be in many meetings with the Regional Director anymore.
  • You can sell in the field having the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective (the perspective of a manager).  Additionally you got to spend time with other DM’s trading ideas and thoughts about selling.  This is a tremendous benefit if you are open minded enough to implement others effective ideas into your own style.
  • You get to talk garbage about all the managers behind their backs again.
  • During POA meetings you no longer have the responsibility of presenting and all of the preparation that comes with it.

As a Manager in pharmaceuticals you must weight the options and understand your needs.  If you are a family man and want to spend more time with your children and travel less, then perhaps taking that step down while keeping the salary is the right move.  If you are one of those people who love to work and get off on achievement, then you may be unhappy mentally if you take that step down.  Just realize that if in fact you do take that step down, though not impossible, it is very difficult to work your way back up.

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