Tag Archives: microbiology laboratory

“Are you a leader or a manager?”

Have a think about the colleagues that you work with. Who are the natural managers amongst them, and who are the natural leaders?

I always find the “natural” managers tend to occupy the more senior positions, whilst the leaders can be found throughout the organisation, at all levels and payscales. Maybe it is because as a society living in the late industrial age we recognise and acknowledge good management more than good leadership. I really don’t know.

Is it possible to be good at both? Contrary to what some web articles might say about these two “personality types” being mutually exclusive, I think it is possible to be strong in both areas. Often good managers are good leaders as well and vice versa.  I do believe however that people are almost always stronger in one area than the other. 

For clinical microbiology laboratories (amongst other organisations) to thrive, they need a good balance of both.

Is it possible to have too many managers and leaders in the workplace? Maybe, but I would rather have too many than too few…..

And myself? Well, I like to think I have some degree of leadership qualities, some ability to inspire, and have some vision of the future direction of the clinical microbiology laboratory and where I want to take it.

As for management, let’s not go there! I don’t have a managerial bone in my body. Never have had, and never will have…..

Have a think about yourself. Regardless of your position, do you see yourself as a manager, or are you a leader?

or are you a follower…?


For a couple of interesting articles on the above click on the articles below:



“Repetitive task Syndrome”

You have probably heard a lot about “Repetitive Strain Injury” (RSI), but what about “Repetitive Task Syndrome” ?

In the setting of the microbiology laboratory we often need to carry out tasks that are highly repetitive, whether it is plating out samples, reading cultures, reading Gram stains, performing EIAs/PCRs, signing out results etc etc.

So what might the symptoms be of such a syndrome? An excessive amount of repetition might lead to boredom, low morale, depression, or introversion. It might also suppress innovative thinking.

In contrast to repetitive strain injury, where symptoms are physical and come on over days to weeks, with repetitive task syndrome the effects are potentially more psychological and their effects are more likely to appear over months, even years.

I am only speculating here but I suspect that such a syndrome exists. It just hasn’t been given a name yet….

However there is light at the end of the tunnel! Bacteriology automation systems with associated interpretative software should eventually see an end to a lot of the manual repetition that currently occurs in microbiology laboratories, leaving only the interesting, odd and unusual for manual input, and ensuring much more variety during the average working day.

Until then I think we need to ensure that we as microbiologists do not perform repetitive tasks for prolonged periods, just in case my theory of “Repetitive Task Syndrome” turns out to be true……

I also have a mantra that states that for any task which is done repetitively by someone, there is probably a better, different, or easier way of doing it..


“No one here gets out alive…”

We think we have the latest methods, the most up to date innovations, the best manuals & quality controls, the most advanced IT system and the smartest diagnostic algorithms. No one else comes close to our lab. We must be the best!

We are ahead of the game?

Think again….

We sometimes forget that whilst we are busy in our own little world looking after our patch, everyone else is doing the same for their respective laboratories or workplaces. It can therefore come as somewhat of a shock when suddenly it dawns on us that you may not be that advanced after all. You might be ahead in one area, but behind in others.

Do anything and everything you can to visit other labs and meet with colleagues who have different areas of expertise than yourself. Use any excuse you can! It’s not just useful, it is completely essential. See how others do things. Don’t be surprised to find that the issues that your lab face are uncannily similar to other laboratories, both locally and internationally.

The world of laboratory microbiology is currently moving at a frightening pace, certainly quicker than I can ever remember. Think about bacteriology automation, multiplex PCRs and the use of IT logic to develop testing algorithms for starters. No one individual can keep pace with everything.

Team work and information sharing is key in keeping up to speed.

Rest on your laurels and you are dead in the water in this profession.