Many lab managers began their careers as bench scientists. Their scientific ability is often one of the leadership skills that leads them to gain a position as a lab manager.
For those thrust into a managerial role for the first time, it can be bewildering, with a whole new series of responsibilities, regulations, and obligations. Fortunately, with a little practice and the right systems in place, lab managers can achieve great things. Here are a few tips for success as a lab manager.
Manage Your Capacity
New managers have a tendency to try to do it all. They feel pressure to get it all right the first time. Not only is such a strategy unrealistic, it is an unfair burden.
Delegation and time management go hand in hand. You need – and are expected to – leverage resources at your disposal. This means training administrators and researchers to take on some duties you had previously done. Holding on to previous responsibilities while taking on more often results in an overloaded, overly stressed lab manager. When providing these new duties, be sure to recognize when exceptional jobs are being done.
There will be a number of commitments and obligations that emerge as a lab manager, all of which appear to be critical, urgent or mandatory. With each new meeting, committee request and project, a good manager will ask, “Do I need to do this?” Can some of those obligations be delegated? Can you create blocks on uninterrupted time for work on bigger projects?
Focus on the Greater Good
Good managers in any industry are magnanimous, looking to improve the organization and its employees and deriving great professional satisfaction in doing so. Look around your lab for workflows or processes that could use some improvement. Test your observations with your senior leaders and take action accordingly. For some examples of lab professionals who have excelled in these areas, read about them in our case studies.
Your objectives should not all be focused on lab outcomes and key performance indicators. Growing your staff and improving operations are both essential elements of a comprehensive performance plan.
Navigate the Hurdles
It’s likely that you reached your current position in part by overcoming obstacles in your way. Now that you oversee a lab it is no different. Navigating hurdles continues to be essential and how you approach this navigation is essential for success. It’s likely that other employees in your lab will take notice of how you handle adversity.
Part of navigating is to “clear the path” for those who work for you. That means overcoming hurdles for them, perhaps even before they become obvious obstacles. Being an advocate and solving problems for employees helps a lab manager gain credibility and loyalty.
Use the Right Systems
Outdated, unsynchronized systems can seriously hinder a lab and its employees. Having the right laboratory information management system (LIMS) can help a lab manager be successful in myriad ways. Inventory control, paperwork reduction, duplication reduction and improved efficiency save a lab money and open it up to more capacity for additional business. Laboratory quality control, regulatory reporting and audit trails are important components that a modern LIMS can provide.
At Freezerworks, we help lab managers succeed every day. Our software gives lab managers confidence in processes and system integration, with automated reporting, configurable fields and robust features. Request a demo and learn how Freezerworks can help transform your lab operations.