Dealing with a Demoralizing MSL Director

A medical science liaison emailed us about a situation where some of the MSL managers at the company are leaving because of the MSL director is selecting only “yes” people and micromanagers on the team. The MSL sees this as demoralizing for the MSL team but wonders if this situation could be brought to upper management’s attention without committing “professional career suicide”.

Based on feedback from some members of our editorial advisory board, this MSL may consider the following approach:

1. Gather facts. Opinions are subjective and biased, and would not make a strong case for upper management as to the havoc the MSL director may be creating. Develop a case that details the business implications of the actions of this “destroyer” individual, and include financial as well as staffing implications.

2. Assess the political climate. Another important piece of information to gather is how this MSL director is viewed by key members of upper management. Perhaps the director has convinced upper managment that this particular approach is necessary. If the political climate is such that the MSL director’s approach is endorsed, perhaps even cultivated by executive management, then the MSL may better spend the time and energy looking for a new job instead.

3. Identify key executive decision maker. Once a business case is constructed and is grounded in facts rather than emotion or bias, the case should be delivered to a member of upper management who has decision making ability. If the MSL does not want to be the messenger, perhaps a recently departed MSL managers would want to do their former MSL team a favor and be the messenger – maybe through a written letter to executive management. (The letter should be copied to a senior HR executive as well.)

If upper management has good business judgment, then the “messenger” – whether this be the MSL or a recently departed MSL manager – should not suffer career suicide. However, if upper management does not treat this with confidentiality and make an honest effort to support the business, then the MSL should look for another company to work for.