Genomics and mass spec labs are constantly bombarded with changing workflows, rapidly evolving instruments and tools, and strict regulatory compliance standards. “Labs are at the forefront of some really great science, but responding to so much change and managing a diverse group of assays can be extremely challenging,” notes one lab manager.
Whether it is for the purchase of a new LIMS or the implementation of a new protocol or instrument, lab managers play a pivotal role in initiating, implementing, and sustaining changes in their lab.
“Change management” is a popular term in organizations these days. As a lab manager, does this mean that you need to also be an expert in change management? No, but there some straightforward techniques you can use to help your lab adjust to changes and sustain them in the long-run.
We spoke to several successful lab managers who have experience with change. One technique they use is to establish quick wins. Whether a new initiative or tool gets adopted is largely based on how people feel about it. Is it a project mired with conflicts and no end in sight? Or is it that project where nearly every day some milestone is being met and everybody feels good about the progress being made? As with adoption of any new initiative, it’s important to demonstrate success early on so that people actually want to be involved. One way to do this is to break up projects into manageable chunks so that staff can complete tasks or projects on a regular basis and experience a sense of completion and accomplishment. Everybody loves knowing that they are getting that much closer to a goal.
“Break up projects into manageable chunks so that staff can complete tasks or projects on a regular basis and experience a sense of completion and accomplishment.”
And when a milestone is accomplished, don’t be shy about communicating it–within and external to the team. Doing so motivates team members and creates much-needed visibility to keep your project relevant.
Another easy way? Use a good LIMS or project management software so that staff can track and display real-time progress and communicate how well the team is moving towards an objective. Many tools now have social media-like displays or dashboards that staff can use to quickly see where samples are in a particular pipeline.
What are some ways you get change happening in your labs?