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These Toxic Patterns May be Poisoning Your Work Culture

In some ways, you know that increased remote opportunities for a medical sales team are good. From the HR perspective, creating remote positions on your team widens your talent pool significantly. 

However, the flip side is your existing medical sales reps suddenly have more options for finding new positions. If they’re unhappy with the work culture and decide to look elsewhere, it could mean trouble for turnover. 

It can be challenging to assess the work culture with a medical sales team that works remotely or is often on the road. But having a geographically-scattered team doesn’t mean your company culture isn’t impactful. 

It’s tricky to tell when behaviors that feel normal and comfortable have become toxic. But you must be proactive and look for them. What practices in your workplace may drive away members of your medical sales team? 

Here are five scenarios to take a hard look at if they are occurring on your team:

Leadership ignores achievements

Your medical sales team needs to feel recognized. Whether it comes from department leadership, upper management, or HR, it goes a long way to make medical sales reps feel their efforts are good enough

For their recent study, Leadership IQ surveyed over 11,000 employees to analyze the components of employee engagement. They found that over a fifth of a team member’s inspiration at work (21%) comes from recognizing accomplishments. That is a hefty chunk you can not afford to falter on. 

If expressing words of affirmation is generally awkward in your work culture, here are some ideas to share with leadership to get started: 

  • Mention how much you appreciate employees’ hard work when conversing with them one-on-one. This demonstrates that you see them without pushing them into the spotlight in front of the whole team. 
  • Include shout-outs in end-of-the-week emails or meetings. This lets you briefly recognize a few members to inspire the team without brewing too much competition. 
  • Start saying thank you more often. When you add in a quick, “And thank you to Brian for pointing out X,” Brian will appreciate that his actions are noticed and validated. 

HR accidentally encourages unhealthy attitudes

One thing is clear: it’s difficult to feel motivated to work when everything about work is shrouded in negativity. 

The Leadership IQ survey indicated that finding meaning in your job accounts for 24% of inspiration at work. And that meaning is hard to find when everyone around you complains all the time. Moreover, optimism and positive thinking explain 30% of inspiration at work. So there’s no denying it’s best to promote an upbeat attitude with your medical sales team. 

However, it is possible to do too much. Toxic positivity occurs when someone is blindly optimistic. They are not appropriately preparing for the future and denying themselves and others the right to feel unhappy about negative situations. So if your approach to work culture is never to let anyone see your smile crack, you may be doing more harm than good. 

Learn to acknowledge the frustration that comes about during setbacks, practice empathy, and accept bad things can happen. You can still have a positive outlook without thrusting happiness onto team members

Team members’ relentless teasing verges on bullying

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a medical sales team that playfully teases each other. It’s great if it’s part of their established work culture and helps them feel connected. After all, it’s always good to give teamwork and collaboration a boost. The Leadership IQ study even notes that it’s a crucial component of employee engagement.

The danger appears when the teasing goes beyond that playful line. When the medical sales team is consistently putting each other down, even disguised as innocent teasing, it can interfere with internal locus of control and actually is considered bullying. 

The Leadership IQ report defines Internal Locus of Control as occurring when an employee believes that they control their fate and that they will succeed if they work hard enough. They say it explains up to 26% of employee’s inspiration at work. 

So when teasing allows reps to spread a message that someone’s work isn’t good enough and that they’re destined to fail, it’s a problem. At that point, it is necessary to lead a training about professional ways for teams to interact. 

Everyone works too much

You need to hit the pause button and take some time to honestly assess how much is asked of the medical sales team. Overworking is one of those habits that can go unnoticed after a while because it becomes routine. 

So how many hours should team members put in each week? Recent research from the Finish Institute of Occupational Health says no more than 48 hours. At that point, employees are more likely to engage in risky alcohol use. 

Also, unexpectedly working overtime gets in the way of employees’ plans and personal lives. As a result, employees may begin to resent the consequences of working for your company. This emotional response is especially true for your medical sales reps who are parents

To prevent work hours from becoming a problem, keep an eye on what is asked of the med reps, remind everyone to mentally check out at the end of the day, and encourage managers to adjust how they map out tasks. 

The medical sales team is too independent

It’s hard to criticize your team for being self-sufficient and driven. Many leaders who guided their team through the 2020 shift to remote work relied heavily on employees who can get the job done on their own.

However, too much of a good thing — like independent work — doesn’t always yield the best results. When your entire team is intent to knock tasks out on their own, they aren’t connecting with other team members, building relationships, and growing from collaboration. 

According to research from Duarte, the top three soft skills needed right now are adaptability, communication, and collaboration. Also, the Leadership IQ study notes that collaboration and teamwork are crucial components of employee engagement. So while some independent work is necessary, connection is what truly holds the team together. 

To pull the team out of their isolating habits, implement short meetings at the beginning and end of the workweek. Explain that the intent of the meeting is for team members to share with the group what they’ve been working on. This will create a forum in which the team can learn from each other and offer advice even on projects designed for independent work. 

Leadership doesn’t listen

Everyone benefits when a leader is skilled at decision-making and confident in themselves and their medical sales team. But a boss who thinks they can do it all on their own runs the risk of excluding their employees’ voices. 

Leadership IQ cites thoughtfully considering employees’ ideas as significant to their inspiration at work and getting their request fulfilled as vital to employee engagement. 

That’s not to say that all ideas and requests from the medical sales team will be of high quality. But there’s a big difference between listening then patiently explaining why it wouldn’t work and shutting it down immediately. 

Besides, giving them a chance to explain their thought process increases the likelihood that it’ll lead to implementing something beneficial. 

Furthermore, they will notice and appreciate the work culture built around respect. In the workplace, all individuals deserve to feel safe and heard. And if having a do-it-myself kind of leader gets in the way of that, it’s time to have a conversation with them. 


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