I have been ranting quite a bit about bad management in my previous posts I think. Fortunately, I decided I cannot let this simmer the way it is and bought a book on lab management: “Lab Dynamics – Management and Leadership Skills for Scientists” by Cohen and Cohen.
First, I’d like to recommend this book or a similar read to everyone. There are so many things pointed out in this book that are so easy to implement that can be a great advantage.
The major points I picked up after reading approximately half-way through: observe, observe, observe. Learn to actively experience your feelings in certain situations and how they trigger responses enabling you to control them. Learn to observe others, learn to interpret their body language. I tried a few of their tips and tricks in harmless situations and I must admit that I was surprised to see how much more you can learn when not only listening half-mindedly to people, but really paying attention. In situations where you unknowingly uncover sensitive or problematic issues, you have better chances to notice when paying attention..
I also found the bits and pieces on dealing with problems and peers interesting. In our Institute, we recently had the problem that one PhD student kept blocking the confocal microscope by reserving it from 10am to 4pm. This makes real-life imaging for others practically impossible. A lot of people gossiped behind her back, were annoyed by it and some finally discussed this with our bosses. They decided to split the times during which the microscope can be booked from 8-12, 12-4 and 4-8. Which surely solved the problem. But did not address it.
After reading a bit in the book, I wondered whether anyone had actually talked to this girl? Not sure whether she even was aware of the problems she was causing for others or whether she was merely trying to do her job without considering this. Secondly, apparently she is pregnant. Maybe it would have helped if her PI had talked to her about this and they would have crafted some work schedule, containing more “safe” work than only microscopy?
Think I will finish reading the book and then pass it on in the lab, I’m sure more people will find the read enlightening too! There’s even a chapter on managing the boss!