Skills to Master

By Pamela Ahlberg

In our Fifth Annual Salary & Employee Satisfaction Survey, the majority of you told us again that you were happy in your current work situations and had no plans to change careers. However, 13 percent fewer of you than in 2010 answered in the affirmative to the statement, “based on job is secure.” For anyone in any job market, job security is certainly not a given—especially if you believe what you hear every day on the news. Therefore, now more than ever, it would be prudent of you to consider ways to protect your current position by making sure you have the “something extra” that can set you apart if, heaven forbid, there is a head count reduction in your organization. To that end, John Borchardt identifies ten specific skills you need in order to improve your status and effectiveness as a lab manager in this month’s cover story; none of which are too difficult or require going back to school. Please take the time to check those out.

The good news from this year’s survey had to do with career advancement and training, with a reported four percent increase among those who felt prepared for their next position, and double digit percentage increases among those who felt their organizations provided sufficient training and professional development opportunities. If you have those opportunities, take advantage. If you don’t, “use your own manager as a mentor and advisor. Consulting with other recently promoted lab managers will allow you to share common problems and develop solutions,” advises Borchardt.

A different sort of career advancement plan is offered in this month’s Leadership & Staffing article, “Visualizing a Career Path, ” which describes a unique visual system for representing the multidimensional and many-levelled paths of an individual’s career, in this case those of a refinery chemist. The system provides visual representation of what these chemists do and offers a method for determining the cross-discipline skills required to move up their specific career ladders.

Whether you are one or report to one, a lab manager should be involved in recruiting and developing their staff as well as helping guide their career growth. The operative word here is “should.” Because there are other types of managers for whom the welfare of their staff and even their institution is subordinate to their own psychological quirks. This other manager is one author Ron Pickett affectionately calls the “Psychobarbarian.” Click here for a description of this manager, one “with a weak or suspect ego, who has learned some techniques for controlling their staff members in ways that not only work but fortify their own personality.” Hopefully you won’t recognize him or her as the one currently managing your team.

As for business, author David Beyerlein in his article, “One Step Ahead,” makes the case that it is strategically smarter to stay ahead of your client’s needs than to react to them—thereby losing valuable method development and start-up time, not to mention your company’s reputation. As for Beyerlein’s organization, he says, “We have chosen the proactive approach to growth and generally hire individuals, acquire instrumentation, and secure space in anticipation of increased work flow rather than wait until after the work arrives. There is some risk to our approach; however, we believe there is a greater risk in being underprepared and potentially disappointing a client.” Click here to see if this method might serve your lab as well.

As always, we hope everything you find in this month’s issue of the magazine helps make you a more creative and effective lab manager.

Categories: Editor's Buzz

Published In

Top 10 Management Skills You Need Magazine Issue Cover
Top 10 Management Skills You Need

Published: October 1, 2011

Cover Story

Top 10 Management Skills You Need

To progress in their careers, lab managers, particularly those in their first management assignment, need to develop new skills. Often they had little opportunity to do this while working full time at the laboratory bench. Yet these skills are critical to success in their new management assignment.
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