We all know that organizations these days face changes like never before. Globalization, breakneck technological innovation, and increased competition result in a constantly evolving business environment. The same is true for laboratories. “Improved accuracy and turnaround times, as well as technological advances in methods and technology, are just a few of the factors that create a demand for constant upgrading and modification—both to technical setup and to policy,” says Sara Goudarzi in this month’s cover story. In addition to sharing the generally accepted principles of change management, the story also provides best practices from lab managers who have used those principles to successfully implement change in very specific laboratory situations. But why change? Because organizations that respond quickly to the forces of change create a competitive advantage for themselves. And those that don’t get left behind.
This same message is echoed in Ron Pickett’s Business Management article, “Beyond Customer Service,” in which he talks about the need for labs to become much more innovative and proactive when it comes to customer service. “Taking an innovative stance may require navigating numerous potholes, detours, and hazards, but it can also lead to a far wider, more influential, and more prestigious role for your department, and the impact will be felt broadly,” he says.
And lab manager Josie Longoria in this month’s Perspective On: A Regional Water Laboratory (page 50) provides another real-world example of how and why to implement change. In her case, changes driven by the challenges of increased automation, moving over to a new LIMS, and her lab’s need for TNI accreditation. She says that by keeping an open mind and getting buy-in and advice from everyone on her team, she was better able to deal with the changes and difficulties. “I know a lot of laboratories are reluctant to change, but it’s worth a try,” she says.
Sometimes the change managers are looking for is in their employees, but they are challenged by how best to help staff improve performance. That has traditionally been accomplished through the annual review process. However, that process has come under serious scrutiny of late. This month we take a look at possible alternatives or enhancements to the dreaded performance review. Lisa Quast in “Making Performance Reviews Matter,” says, “If you’re doing your job properly throughout the year, then the annual performance appraisal should be merely one more discussion in the ongoing dialog of how employees are performing.” She also provides seven tips for making performance appraisals more meaningful. Mark Lanfear in his monthly Science Matters column says, “Keep in mind that improvement is each individual’s own responsibility. You can make only yourself better. The best you can do for others is to develop a trusting relationship in which they can ask for feedback and help when they see the need and feel sufficiently valued to take it.” Check out both of these articles for help with your next performance review.
This month’s “INSIGHTS on the Elements of Cell Culture” looks at all aspects of setting up a cell culture lab. In it, author Angelo DePalma takes a product-based approach, focusing on the major categories—media, culture ware, and large equipment. He also pays attention to the unique requirements of stem cells, which need to be handled quite differently.