There are six methods that you can use to control your career as a lab manager. What are the 6 C’s of control?
Control the clock
Some of us spend our entire careers struggling with time management. Time management is a skill most of us are always trying to improve. Effective time management requires productive work habits. Learn the length of time you can work productively without a break. Then schedule your daily work schedule to provide some time blocks of this length for your most important tasks. Use shorter time blocks, for short tasks such as writing e-mails, reading, telephone calls, etc. Also understand what times of day you are most productive. Then schedule your most demanding tasks for this time.
Control your interruptions. Interruptions can kill productivity – primarily by interrupting your chain of thought. So use caller ID to screen phone calls and answer only the truly important ones immediately. Otherwise, schedule times when you will answer telephone messages and also originate calls of your own.
Control your concepts
Make good use of your creative imagination. When I’m exercising, in the shower or engaged in safe, intellectually undemanding tasks, I will think about workplace problems and new projects. I’ll often plan an upcoming presentation or report. As a result of this preliminary conceptualizing, I often can write short documents or prepare PowerPoint slides quite quickly using short time blocks or unexpected openings in my schedule.
Control your contacts.
Who you know is how you grow. So focus your attention adding outstanding scientists and managers to your professional network. Make your contacts value you by providing value to them. However, your time is too valuable to spend it on people who are overly demanding or ungrateful for your assistance.
Control your communications
Both your written and oral communications should be focused and concise. In particular, communicate project requirements and deadlines clearly. Hone your effectively listening skills. In particular, ask leading questions to obtain the information you need from others.
Control your commitments
It is often hard for managers to turn down work. Yet over-commitment can lead to slapdash execution and missed deadlines. There is nothing that will destroy a relationship your relationships with colleagues and customers faster and more completely than not meeting a deadline or turning in a work product that requires a lot of rework.
I find a four-step process helpful in meeting deadlines:
- Use month at a glance calendar to track deadlines and your progress in meeting them.
- Set your own completion dates for all your projects. Make these at least three days in advance of the actual deadlines. That way, if you fall behind schedule, you can still meet the deadline.
- Develop intermediate milestones with completion dates for big projects. Meeting these will keep you on target to meet your project completion deadline.
- Negotiate a revised deadline as soon as you can see there will be a major problem meeting the original assigned deadline.
Control your concerns
Recognize when a project will not provide the needed results in a timely, cost-effective way. It may be difficult for you and your staff members to admit this. However, few things are less productive than pouring more time, effort and money into a project that just will not provide the needed results. One has to move on to a productive project and not dwell on these frustrations of terminating a project you’re emotionally attached to. Getting over these frustrations and moving on will enable you to better direct your energy towards future success.
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