What is Your MSL Retention Culture?

What is your MSL organization’s retention culture?

The nice, public relations-answer will refer to socially acceptable scripts like working for an established market leader, wanting to improve patient lives, being with an up-and-coming company…


Why do your MSLs stay with your company, when they can work somewhere else?

The truthful answer generally falls within a composite of the “big 3” — salary, advancement opportunities, and people.

We can control objective metrics like “salary.” This is where companies try the most to compete for MSL talent.

We can massage semi-objective metrics like “advancement opportunities.”

We cannot control “people” once they are hired into the organization and begin to talk with each other.

We hear enough of “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers” but when I look at retention approaches by MSL programs, I find:

  • a lot of company resources going to “salary”,
  • some company resources going to “advancement opportunities”, usually not done well or focused on a facade of advancement versus true advancement; MSLs are smart: they can tell whether they are truly advancing, or given “more work without more pay” dressed up as a leadership position, and
  • not enough company resources going to “people.”

Given today’s competitive environment for retaining the right people, MSL executives have a tough challenge ahead.

MSL directors and managers need to foster cooperation and collaboration within their MSL organization as opposed to creating too much internal competition among ambitious MSLs.

MSL leadership has an additional burden of increasing awareness and “cross-cultural understanding” with internal stakeholders who are driven by different metrics.


The #1 people we must develop to be successful in ensuring the stability of MSL teams in today’s industry are MSL directors and MSL managers.
Jane Chin, Ph.D.