managing people

jcoleman at jcoleman at
Thu Jan 25 16:59:44 EST 1996

In article <17479.guenzel at>, "" <guenzel at> writes:
>Last time I visited GB, I bought a book called "How to get a 
>PhD. A handbook for students and their supervisors" by E. 
>Phillips & D. Pugh which I found quite helpful for some basic 
>things. Although most of it is written for the PhD students 
>rather than for the supervisors, I found it quite helpful, as, 
>in some parts I found described exactly what happened to me 
>during my PhD and it "opened my eyes" as to how I might 
>"manage" my students better.
>At the moment I am responsible for two PhD-students, two 
>students doing a one year research project and one technican. I 
>try to create a harmonic atmosphere which most of the time is 
>easy enough, because they usually get on with each other very 
>well. Yet, I wouldn't like to have it too personal, i.e. 
>"expecting" them to discuss personal problems in the lab (I 
>myself always prefered to have other friends outside University 
>or at least from other Departments and to separate private 
>things from work). This doesn't mean I wouldn't listen if any 
>of them asked me to, or wouldn't occationally go out with them 
>in the evening.
>As to the technican, I think I treat her rather the 
>same as the students, especially as she is the same age or even 
>younger than the students in the lab. When I first started 
>working with her, I was extremely nervous about how I would 
>manage to have her continuously occupied. I was frightened, 
>that at one time I'd have too much work for her to do and at 
>other times I would have to say: go and have a coffee for the 
>next 45 min... It never happened, of course, and now, after 
>about a year, we are an excellent team.
>What I find most difficult at the moment is that one of the 
>students who just started his project in our lab, is confined 
>to an electric wheel chair. Although he manages the experiments 
>well, he needs help eg for making solutions etc. That wouldn't 
>be a problem, if he would simply tell us what he needed. But he 
>always seems to think that he is asking for a great favour. 
>Even if he simply needs having something handed down, it is not 
>"can you please pass me the..." but "It would be very nice if 
>you could maybe give me the ..., but only if you have got the 
>time just now...". As this is quite getting on the nerves of 
>the other students, I have tried to talk to him, but he doesn't 
>seem to understand what I mean and why the others think there 
>is a problem. Although this probably sounds like something 
>which is easy to solve I find it pretty hard because we are 
>(over?)-cautious not to hurt his feelings and he is cautious 
>not to be in our way and I don't know how to get the whole 
>group to relax a bit.
>I would be quite happy if anyone has faced a similar situation 
>and can give me some advice.

I haven't faced a situation like this...but...perhaps you can institute a
lab-wide system for making lab solutions...say put up a list where if any one
need a solution made, they can write down what they need and then large batches
can be made and distributed say on Friday so something, and perhaps at least
one of all the solutions in the lab should be on a lower bench where he can
easily reach them. Maybe you need to ask him how all of you might be able to
help him without making him feel bad...maybe there are
somethings around the lab he could do for the others in return for help with
the solutions.


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