Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business


With the holidays upon us, most are looking forward to enjoying time away from the lab or office with friends and family.

by Pamela Ahlberg
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One week later we’ll be swapping out our filled-up 2015 calendars for empty 2016 ones—looking back at what’s been and forward to what’s ahead. With that exercise come the inevitable resolutions—be they modest or grand: Get more exercise, watch less TV, be more environmentally mindful, be a better spouse, be a better manager.

When it comes to being a better manager, there is always room for improvement. Those who believe otherwise may be in for a surprise when suddenly, it seems, their team becomes dispirited and less productive. This month we address that unhappy scenario in our Leadership & Staffing article, “The Subtle Signs Your Team Is in Trouble,” (page 24), identifying the signs that things are not right and providing tips for improving the situation. “As a manager, it’s critical for you to create an environment that prevents your team from devolving to the point where they’re arguing daily and to recognize the early warning signs that all is not right with your team, signs that aren’t always easy to spot,” says author Rachel Muenz.

Addressing the same situation, author Mark Lanfear in his Science Matters column (page 16), compares a work team to a family, saying, “work life mimics family life, doesn’t it? A variety of different people blended together in one place to work. We squabble and argue…and hopefully find ways to get along…before bad habits get ingrained, or your business ‘family’ underperforms or even starts to break up.” A fitting analogy, especially at holiday time when, for some, family get-togethers can be less than peaceful.

In addition to renewed attention to your team, maintaining good environmental practices in your lab requires a similar commitment. In our Business Management article this month, “Sustainable Science,” (page 18), the authors reiterate the value of that commitment. “Reconsidering daily activities in the lab, or changing engineering and architectural designs to meet new construction standards may seem like large undertakings, but implementing sustainability practices is worth the time. Making sure that your lab and your procedures are efficient and environmentally friendly will benefit the environment as well as your budget.”

Besides kick-starting your 2016 resolutions regarding budgets, sustainability practices, and team management, we hope you enjoyed checking out the five less ordinary labs featured in our cover story. Beginning in January 2016, we will be profiling labs like these in every issue. Let me know if your lab qualifies.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

Pamela Ahlberg