The role of a lab manager is to help their staff perform their jobs safely while also helping with budget-balancing and serious decision-making. Considering all of this, lab managers who are just starting can find themselves easily intimidated by all they have to do. Here are a handful of tips for effectively managing a laboratory to help you get started with confidence.
Create Clear Procedures and Expectations in the Lab
Labs managing multiple clients or high workloads can easily devolve into chaos over time. Data, paperwork, and materials must travel through the workflow in a well-defined process. If a technician who began a task isn’t available, lab professionals risk losing valuable time attempting to track down their information.
Creating clear-cut procedures and expectations from the beginning allows a lab manager to step back and avoid micro-managing their team while still confidently keeping tabs on the workflow itself. If you feel unsure of the procedures you want to set in your lab, do trial runs of new techniques or request feedback from your team.
Keep Your Lab’s Inventory Organized and Well-Maintained
One of the most important responsibilities of a lab manager is to ensure your technicians and scientists can do their jobs efficiently. A lab’s inventory of supplies, tools, and equipment is crucial so the lab can function daily, so keeping said inventory organized and well-maintained is essential.
The procedure for keeping track of tools throughout their use needs to be consistent. New lab techs must know where items need to be when they’re in use, when they’re going through sterilization, and when they’re back in storage.
Color coding is another great way to increase the likelihood that items return to their specified drawers and cabinets. A quarterly inventory check helps managers replace broken and missing items without interrupting the workflow.
It’s also important for lab managers to keep any equipment in as good of condition as possible. Broken or malfunctioning machinery can cause the entire lab to grind to a halt. Working with a trustworthy repair technician and scheduling maintenance are both key to preventing serious system issues in the future.
Maintain In-Depth Financial Records and a Detailed Budget
It’s important to maintain in-depth financial records as a lab manager. These records are crucial to ensuring your lab continues to operate within the given budget, whether in academic or industrial settings. Keeping an eye on each aspect of spending allows you to discover more opportunities for improving the lab, including purchasing higher-quality equipment or expanding your lab’s marketing strategies to acquire new clients.
Keeping these tips for effectively managing a laboratory in mind as you enter your new role is a great way to hit the ground running. Communicating your goals and projects with your team is the next step of being a fantastic lab manager!