Being the head of your laboratory requires more than the groundwork that science labs are known for. Managers share much of the same skill sets that small business owners do, but the difference is that lab-management skills are learned secondhand while business management is learned in the classroom. Here are a few key things to remember that can help your lab run smoothly.
Viewing the Big Picture
The multitude of tasks taking place at once can make it easier for you to cross your T’s and dot your I’s, but they also make it easy to lose sight of the big picture. Most managers find zoning in one smaller aspects of a lab’s work a menial part of their day’s work, but the most successful are capable of taking a step back to assess the effectiveness of every task working together.
That’s easier said than done, but a five-year strategy can help you achieve this. This can help you to evaluate a project’s success as well as determine the role of future projects while gauging your lab’s progress. When dealing with multiple grants of varying lengths, your lab’s productivity is of the utmost importance.
Organization comes in many forms when working in a lab. Managers must organize their people, time, and space all at once in order for things to run efficiently. However, the most important thing you can learn in this area is when to say no.
No manager has enough time in a day to complete everything they want to accomplish. Sometimes, closing your office door to work on something else is the best thing you can do. The ability to discern between which requests aid and hinder your research is essential.
On the flip side, you might need to be on a specific committee now in order to gain access to more graduate students down the road. Knowing when to yes and when to say no is a critical part of your organizational skills.
Finally, the use of programs and software can help your laboratory tenfold. A trusted animal research software suggests that time, money, and effort is saved through streamlining your work efforts. The ability to keep all of your analytics, reports, and more in one place is priceless.
Learning to Lead
Recognizing your leadership style is crucial to your lab’s success. There are valuable online tools to draw from, as well as real life examples in the form of mentors or peers. How do these individuals handle organization, viewing the big picture, or the finer aspects of running a lab?
Where do you differ in your approaches from them, and how effective are those approaches compared to theirs? The most successful managers incorporate a blend of techniques with a track record of proven results. Paying attention to your ability to socialize with workers, command respect, and offer constructive feedback is essential to your role as manager.
Managing a science lab is never easy, but there are ways to make your job more successful. In doing so, you ensure that your lab’s projects are optimized and efficient.