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3 Ways to Increase Psychological Safety and Create High-Performing Medical Sales Teams

Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In tribute to those words, Google performed an extensive study called Project Aristotle to find out what makes an effective team at Google.

Their study revealed one of the top five factors as psychological safety, which refers to “an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk, or a belief that a team is safe for risk-taking in the face of being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive.”

Employees who feel psychologically safe in the workplace believe they can share their opinions, thoughts, and ideas without fearing negative consequences. This creates space for increased creativity, risk-taking, and collaboration.

For medical sales teams, psychological safety is critical to help reps offer creative solutions for customers’ objections. It also cultivates collaboration in a field where teamwork is important but challenging to nurture.

Here are three ways you can increase psychological safety to create a high-performing medical sales team:

Encourage collaboration during meetings

When it comes to corporate value and culture, 54 percent of medical sales reps who responded to our 2019 MedReps Best Places to Work survey stated they prioritize companies that focus on team building and collaboration. Naturally, as a leader, you should enable opportunities for teamwork wherever possible.

Weekly or daily meetings shouldn’t be monotonous. They also shouldn’t be reduced to a quick rundown of the week for reps who are eager to get on the road.

Instead, team meetings should allow employees to lean on their co-workers and connect on a more meaningful level. Encourage team members to come to each meeting with new ideas or problems that need to be solved. Reps will value the opportunity to support each other.

Acknowledge your own mistakes

When your team feels comfortable making mistakes, they are more open to taking risks and improving their sales. Your team needs to know that no one is above making mistakes — especially, their leaders.

Foster an environment where medical sales reps can see errors, both theirs and your own, as acceptable learning opportunities. Use your own missteps as opportunities to show your reps they’re safe to take risks. And, more importantly, that they won’t be ridiculed or seen as incompetent for mistakes.

Focus on curiosity, not blame

Even your top sales reps will stumble at some point in their careers. Maybe they took a calculated risk and it resulted in a lost customer. Or maybe you’ve explained something to them multiple times and they continue making the error.

No matter the case, approach these situations with curiosity, rather than blaming them for the situation.

Ask questions to further understand their decision-making process that led to taking a particular risk. Work together to figure out why it didn’t pay off. Identify any gaps in communication between you and the sales reps. Do their learning styles align with your training style? If not, work together to come up with ways to make important information stick.

Psychologically safety is critical in all workplaces, so it’s important for medical sales leaders to create environments where reps feel comfortable collaborating and taking risks. Only then, will sales teams reach their peak when it comes to creative problem solving and medical sales success.


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