Three Tips to Maximise Your Team’s Development in 2021

Advice for team leaders in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries


As a leader, you are responsible for your team’s development. You must ensure your team is in the best possible position to hit its objectives. An effective training strategy will help you hit these goals. Research has shown organisations with higher training budgets are more profitable and successful. Training and development opportunities have also shown to significantly improve employee engagement, retainment and new staff recruitment.

Within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device sectors it is important to stay current with the latest regulations, techniques and processes. The life science industry is continually changing. Subsequently, your team must change with it. Failure to do so may cost you and your organisation more in the long-term.

January is the perfect time and opportunity to think about the training needs of your team for the upcoming year and we have highlighted some first considerations before developing a training plan.

Be more proactive than reactive

Proactively planning team development is critical. Consider the following: Where are the knowledge gaps are in your team/department? Where is knowledge retention crucial? Who may leave your team and who will replace them? By doing this you are managing the knowledge in the business and putting in plans to retain and develop it going forwards. This is far more effective than reacting to a scenario when you realise you do not have the expertise.

Training should be planned approximately 3 – 6 months before any implementation. This allows enough time to consider options and to minimise the impact on your responsibilities. The aim is to plan ahead. If you know you have a new product coming through the pipeline or you will be registering in a new region – now is the time to start thinking about development needs. Of course, there are always surprises and reactive needs but trying to be more proactive than reactive will have a positive impact. The training will be more effective, beneficial and cost-effective. With adequate planning, you will also avoid unnecessary pressures.

Consider the training budget

Recent research has shown that across major organisations 2 – 5 % of an employee’s salary is set aside for training each year. The (bio)pharmaceutical and medical device industries are knowledge intensive (reliant on the knowledge of the professionals working within them). There is an argument that development budgets should be higher than average for these sectors especially in areas that are continually evolving such as advanced therapies or medical device regulations.

Make sure you know what you have to play with? Whether there are any centralised budgets you can draw upon? Does you learning and development or HR department have any budget, readymade courses or support? How is that budget allocated and how can you access it?

Do not be afraid to ask for more resources. Many organisations keep budgets in reserve so you should try and access those funds before it is used on other departments or business changes mean the budgets disappear.

If you are struggling to get positive responses internally than consider:

  • Could your team collaborate with others internally to share the costs?
  • Are there different budgets you can re-route? For example, at present travel budgets will most likely be going unused.
  • Training will help with retaining staff so argue for parts of the recruitment budget.
  • Build a return on investment case study showing the value that training and development will bring or ….
  • Provide an idea of the cost of failings if training is not implemented.

When you do receive budget for training there are a couple of crucial considerations:

Do not let it lapse – Make sure you use it. If you do not use it one year it will become even harder to request in the future

Feed up skill updates – Make sure you continuously report up to your superiors (and learning and development/HR team if you have one) what the trainings are achieving. It can be difficult but try and ensure that you have some measurable outcomes, saying that it ‘went really well’ will have less of an impact. Encourage your manager to pass this information further up the line as well.

Spend smart and avoid wasting money

In the event you do not have much training budget available it is vitally important to spend smart and minimise waste.

Below are some tips on how to use your training budget smartly:

  • Look at internal resources and expertise first. Have a look at what you have immediately available. Can these resources be used, updated or act as part of a training? Are there other departments or people you can approach for support? If you are unsure of what to do then speak to your learning and development/ HR team. They should be able to work with you and design a development plan for your team and the individuals within your team.
  • Do not just budget money, budget time. Make sure you consider the time your team will need to take part in the training and consider how this may consider their current or future workloads. It is important to find the balance otherwise the pressures of their day-to-day work will mean limited enthusiasm and commitment to the training.
  • Clearly define the goals and objectives. Make sure it is crystal clear for all of those involved what the objectives for the training are and the outcomes are post training. Make sure that everyone is accountable for implementing the learnings moving forward through action plans. Further, if working with an external provider, the clearer the objectives and the more information or examples you can share with them, the more impactful the training will be.
  • Continuous learning. Seeing learning as continuous rather than a one-off event will significantly increase the take home of the training. Having a continuous approach to training with reinforcement will greatly increase the impact.
  • Ensure ‘buy’ in from all stakeholders. Make sure both managers and employees are aligned on what their goals are, the objectives for the training and the reasons for the training. Failure to do so may result in training that is attended with no real enthusiasm.
  • Train managers first. This will help ensure their ‘buy in’ as well. It will also support with the incredibly important pass-through effect that this will create. If managers are on board with the training plans, then it makes it much easier to pass the message to the remaining team members.
  • Customisation. Make sure the training is not generic and focuses on the specific challenges and examples you and your team faces on a day-to-day basis. This will enable the group to relate to the material and come out of the training with some immediate actionable outcomes.
  • Incorporate interactive sessions. Where possible ensure there are some interactive sessions, preferably with a trainer or other colleagues. This will help ensure engagement, facilitation of the learning and thus a more successful training.
  • Consider partnering with an organisation. Conducting several trainings with one external provider will quite often ensure you get more bang for your buck. However, it will also ensure a deeper relationship that will help the provider to better support you and your organisation in achieving its goals.



Training and development are important in all industries but more so in life sciences due to the constantly changing regulatory and technological landscape. To maximise your teams development this year consider planning early, identify available budget and then make sure you spend that budget wisely. Look internally for support in HR / learning and development, your seniors and across departments as it is likely that training resource is available to you.


Written by Daniel Harding

Daniel is a Director at Educo Life Sciences and has experience developing team training solutions for (bio)pharmaceutical and medical device clients. He has helped clients achieve business objectives with learning programmes that meet their specific needs and requirements.


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