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Manage It All

Some labs run smoothly with all workers getting along, while others may be a bit bumpier with a jumble of personalities. Part of the issue, Nature Jobs notes, is that while faculty members might be great researchers, they often have little background in management.

Vivek Kumar, a neuroscientist, recalls telling a technician to clone cells for him, Nature Job's Boer Deng recounts. Kumar failed, though, to tell her when he needed them by, and when they weren't ready when he wanted, he lost his temper. The tech later told him that her blood pressure would rise whenever she heard him walking nearby.

But, Deng reports that students, researchers, and their institutions have realized that they need to also focus on developing interpersonal skills in addition to the scientific skills. Kumar, for instance, has since taken a leadership workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Though he says that he can still feel uncomfortable being a manager, he's learned new skills and tactics. "I came away from the workshop with a clear sense that it's part of my responsibility to make the whole lab a success," he adds.

Such skills, Deng adds, are also critical for researchers seeking a career outside of academia.