By: Pamela Ahlberg Published: May 8 2013
How we communicate with those we work for and those who work for us is dictated by a variety of factors. Your boss prefers weekly face-to-face meetings, you prefer brief emails, others on your team favor long-winded phone conversations, while your newly hired college grads are happiest texting. Despite the many new channels available for getting your message across, all are not created equal when it comes to the communication challenges you and your organization face. The takeaway from this month’s cover story is that choosing the appropriate communication technique and medium should not be left to chance. Rather, a lab manager needs to carefully assess every situation, every business goal, every team, and every individual to determine the most effective ways of communicating. “Telephones, email, and social technology modalities have their rightful place in labs as a quick and easy means of conveying and/or broadcasting information, but managers who use these methods to the point of minimizing or excluding real-time person-to-person communication on a reasonably consistent basis should not be surprised if levels of staff motivation and trust start to flag.”
A similar message is echoed in this month’s Ask the Expert article in which expert Angelo Filosa, discussing how to optimize his lab’s service program, says, “In the first year we had meetings at the end of every week and quarterly calls with the vendor to evaluate how the program was going. Slowly we cut back to meetings every two weeks and then to once a month as we got used to each other. You need communication for it to work.”
The theme of communication shows up yet again in this month’s Leadership & Staffing article on managing disruptive employees. In that, author Ron Pickett describes the unhappy situation in which a former peer begins to behave in unreliable and counterproductive ways after you have taken a leadership position. Along with many good and creative suggestions for handling this, one key bit of advice is, “Assume that the cause is faulty communication or a ‘personality conflict,’ but don’t assume that for long! Take extra precautions to clarify your expectations, and check to ensure that your message is being received correctly.”
Other important articles this month that don’t have to do with communication include “Continuous Improvement” (page 18), a case study that demonstrates the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of implementing an electronic data management system. Another, “Managing R&D Data in a Virtual World,” (page 28) describes changes in the life science industry that have prompted the need for data driven collaboration and the technology that is making that possible. “Despite the obvious hurdles, there is no reason why ‘virtual R&D’ shouldn’t improve significantly on the internally focused processes of the past. We are seeing more advanced organizations implementing structured metadata tagging, controlled at the enterprise level, that delivers the security control and auditability required for full virtual collaboration.”
Finally, if your lab is in the market for a microscopy or imaging system, turn to this month’s INSIGHTS article (page 56), which provides a comprehensive overview of developments in this important area as well as what you should consider when making that purchase.
We recently sent out surveys on laboratory etiquette and lab safety practices. Thank you in advance if you participated, as that will provide good information on these important topics for upcoming issues.