Why culture is more than just a “nice-to-have” at Pfizer CentreOne
Somebody asked me recently: “Andrew, why are you so focused on culture?”
This question made me think back to when I was a young leader in the pharmaceutical industry, 20 years ago. Driving and delivering the best possible results was my main focus at that time.
However, looking back on those days, I can see that the work we do as a business and an industry is about more than reaching “where we want to go.” It’s also about the “how” and the “why.”
Of course, it’s important to do all we can to deliver high-quality drug products for customers and for patients and maintain compliance with rigorous safety regulations.
At the same time, we need to consider both how we reach this end goal and the right thing to do for both team members and customers – at every step in the development and manufacturing process. This is all about having the right culture, with everyone in a team committed to working together not just to achieve results, but to do the right thing for each other, customers, and patients.
A cultural epiphany
I first came to this realization when I was working to merge two teams from two separate businesses into a single unit. This process doesn’t happen naturally – it needs to be nurtured. It takes a lot of work to bring two groups of strangers together, to encourage them to get to know each other, and to build trust. But it’s vital to ensure the team functions smoothly and harmoniously. This, in turn, is essential to maximize productivity and deliver positive, high-quality end results for customers.
To succeed in merging these two teams, I had to stop focusing on the bottom line, or on achieving quarterly targets, and start paying attention to the people I was leading. This experience showed me the importance of camaraderie and trust within my team, and how culture was central to achieving this.
Our work on culture led to a significant improvement in the team’s happiness and satisfaction at work. As a consequence, our output almost doubled, leading to a significant increase in the satisfaction of our customers.
The secret to a positive and successful culture
This epiphany has stayed with me and I’ve applied what I learned to every role I’ve held since. For me, there are a few key areas that need to be considered to create a workplace culture that puts colleagues first and delivers for customers.
- The values of your organization – your company’s priorities in terms of delivering for colleagues and customers.
- The beliefs of your team – your team’s commitment to living up to your organization’s values.
- The experiences of your team members – whether they are happy in their day-to-day working life.
- The behavior of team members towards each other – how they treat their colleagues.
By focusing on getting these things right, it is possible not only to achieve your quarterly targets, but to deliver consistent improvements in quality and output that lead to sustainable growth year after year.
The process of defining your company’s mission with regards to its team and customers, of supporting your team to value and live up to that mission, and of encouraging them to appreciate and respect each other will have one simple result. Your team members will be happier in their jobs. Happier employees perform better, benefiting your business and your customers.
And it’s a virtuous circle – the more the business and your customers thrive, the happier your team members will become.
Delivering a great culture
I have seen the positive impact this focus on workplace culture can have on colleagues, on business performance and on customers.
But you cannot rest on your laurels, to just embark on a one-off project to implement an effective working culture then forget about it. Culture has to be constantly nurtured and revised as companies and their teams evolve and as customer needs change.
This current time of COVID-19 enforced remote working has highlighted the importance of this constant evolution. At Pfizer CentreOne, we’ve worked hard this past year to maintain that vital sense of team spirit even when our teams are working from their own homes.
I am excited to lead Pfizer CentreOne in revising and refreshing our culture as the world opens up post-COVID. I’m committed to ensuring we continue to be a great place for our team members to work, so that we can carry on delivering fantastic results for customers well into the future.
To find out more about how our commitment to creating a great working culture aligns with our aspiration in becoming the CDMO partner of choice, contact us today.