reaction!, and managerial style

Linda Kingsbury lab_sakano at
Tue Jan 23 16:18:34 EST 1996

In article <pnorton-2201961803120001 at>,
pnorton at (Pamela Norton) wrote:

> Should
> the lab head go chasing after everyone to hear about their experiments, or
> should she wait for them to come to her? Some find the former situation
> annoying ("give me some space") whereas others are more dependent on
> frequent discussion. Conversly, some find the latter situation great,
> others feel that the PI is not interested in their work.  (I'm drawing on
> observations from labs in addition to my own here). Obviously there is
> middle ground here, but it can be hard to strike the right balance. Thus,
> you will probably be happiest in a lab where you and your advisor come
> down in the same general direction (to oversimplify, less
> independence/more contact vs. more independence/less contact). 

Another comment on the "how much discussion?" question.  It depends not
only on the student's personality, but also on the point of time within
the project, and the student's own strengths/weaknesses/interests.  For
example, as a grad student I find discussion to be most helpful when
beginning/planning a project:  which experiments have priority, what are
the best controls, will we get a clear answer to the question, is this
worth doing anyway, etc.  Of course, I can figure a lot of this out for
myself, but some informal discussion helps get the juices flowing, so to
speak.  On the other hand, halfway through a project, the only input a
boss can give is, "Do you have the result yet?!" which is not at all
helpful.  Although, I suppose if the boss is a good experimental
troubleshooter willing to take a lot of time with the notebook, some
contribution could be made.  Also, if the data are difficult to interpret,
then some discussion could be helpful.  I guess what I'm saying is that
discussion is helpful to me only when complex decisions have to be made,
and not uniformly throughout the project.

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