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Problem: PI is TOO easy going

  1. Dec 17, 2012 #1
    Today we switched the roster for lab duties up so that every person gets rotated to a new task in order to have the lab run smoothly. Normally we switch up the lab duties every quarter. Today, however, a lab co-worker decided to email everyone saying he thinks we shouldn't rotate the roster this often now. Two co-workers emailed back saying that everyone should be rotated through the roster in order for the level of work to be fair for everyone over the course of the year.

    This guy decides to go ahead and start changing up lab duties for everyone else except himself, since he was previously assigned a the easiest lab duties on the list, and has announced that we'll be changing up duties less frequently now.

    How would you deal with an issue like this if you know your PI is too easy going? I know my PI will choose to not get involved since I don't think he likes drama or confrontation. Just let things boil over and create an unnecessary power struggle, or should I go into my PIs office tomorrow and prod him until he says he will do something?
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2012 #2
    Maybe you should start by discussing this with your co-workers?? What do they think about the situation? I guess they're not happy about it either. Maybe you can do something together? It's always better to take action as a group than as an individual.
  4. Dec 17, 2012 #3


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    So one "co-worker" in the lab can unilaterally tell everybody else what to do, and everybody (except the OP) doesn't have a problem with that?

    I suspect we don't have all the facts here....
  5. Dec 18, 2012 #4
    I guess you missed the part about the other people in lab emailing back?
  6. Dec 18, 2012 #5
    Yea, but is this person in charge of scheduling duties? Or is that responsibility supposed to be agreed upon by the group?
  7. Dec 18, 2012 #6
    No of course this person isn't in charge. If he were then I couldn't complain. The responsibilities and the rotating system we do have been in place for years. Basically it is just one guy who isn't the boss of anyone deciding what he gets to do from now on and how the system should work.
  8. Dec 18, 2012 #7
    Then obviously you should address the issue. Don't whine about it to anyone though. Nobody likes a whiner.

    Prepare a reasoned argument for why you think your co-worker has acted out of place, and why you believe the system was more appropriate prior to the change. My point is, though you are ticked-off at the guy, don't let that result in your simply complaining to your superiors.
  9. Dec 18, 2012 #8


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    So basically you are saying nobody is in charge. OK, there is probably an organization chart that shows somebody is nominally in charge, but either they aren't doing that task, or they didn't get to hear that anybody has a problem, or they don't mind somebody showing some initiative and doing their job for them.

    If the whole lab is really just running on autopilot, I would guess there are more important things to worry about than this sort of trivia, and the top priority one might be "how to find another job as fast as possible".

    If there is a name on an organization chart, if I were you I would probably look to meet them by the water cooler and ask casually "what do you think of the new duties roster?" If they didn't even know there was a new roster, then set phasor to "stun"....
  10. Dec 18, 2012 #9


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    He has accurately assessed your PI's management style and stepped into the vacuum left by your PI. It's doubtful any of you will be willing to be the only individual that complains to the PI and, if he's accurately assessed his coworkers, it's probably unlikely that the rest of them would band together.

    If, somehow, the rest of you do manage to band together and complain to the PI as a group, the story will be he decided to show some initiative and draft the new schedule, none of the rest of you would give him any feedback on what they wanted, so he just put one out there hoping to get some kind of feedback. And then the rest of you still wouldn't cooperate - instead of working things out with him, you ran off and bothered the PI about something the group should have been able to figure out on their own.

    The solution is for the rest of you to all meet with the proactive coworker and let him know how all of you feel about the schedule, perhaps backing him up against a wall as you give him the feedback he needs. Except be prepared for the possibility of you being the only person to give the coworker any feedback while the rest stand behind you shrugging their shoulders (I only say the latter because these types of guys usually don't grossly misassess their coworkers when they decide to do these types of things).
  11. Dec 19, 2012 #10
    For God sake don't do that. This would be completely unacceptable in an academic environment.
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