The Fox Chase Cancer Center's Glenn Rall says it's best for PIs to view their postdoctoral trainees as collaborators rather than competitors. According to The Scientist's Jennifer Welsh, "postdocs act as the emissaries of your science ... they can carry your research further as trustworthy collaborators with their own resources to contribute." As such, she continues, it's imperative that PIs teach their postdocs "skills beyond the science" — such as writing and public speaking — that are required to run a lab. "It's in my best interest to be able to send out postdocs who are going to be wildly successful," Rall tells The Scientist.
Welsh also says that PIs must strive to propose "projects that complement but don't compete with yours" and should not be "reluctant to let their postdocs leave with projects." In his lab, "Rall helps his ... postdocs build up a side project in addition to the main work they do for him," according to The Scientist. Rall says that "there are many people who treat their departing postdoc like a competitor," but that only serves to "restrict" the success of their trainees, and lessen their strength as potential collaborators.