Can I See You In My Office?
The question “Can I see you in my office?” has an air of being sent to the principal. The first thought that pops into my head is, “What did I do now?” I never liked this feeling as a bench tech, and it isn’t much more fun as a manager. The exchange sets up the meeting to fail right from the start.
But it needn’t be so. Here are a few suggestions for bench techs called into the office:
- Be agreeable. Keep an open mind, smile, and just say, “Sure!” You never know, you might be getting a raise.
- Ask what it’s about. If you can’t see your manager immediately, ask, “May I ask what this is about?” You don’t need distractions while you’re working.
- Don’t close the door. Unless it’s a personal matter, it’s probably laboratory related and the door can stay open.
It’s ironic how managers claim to have an “open door policy” but the first thing that happens when anyone is called into an office is closing the door. As a rule I keep my door open unless the employee requests I close it. If the issue is sensitive enough to close the door, perhaps my office isn’t private enough. Rare disciplinary action needs to happen somewhere else.
Here are suggestions for managers:
- Say please. If the person can’t meet right away, ask for a time to meet.
- Give a heads up. Distractions can be deadly on the bench, and it’s lousy to make people worry. Unless you’re seeing someone immediately, give an indication of what the meeting is about.
- Document together. If the meeting is about an incident, write down what happened after a short discussion of the event, beginning with, “Let’s write down what we’ve just talked about.” Include any corrective steps that need to happen.
The less threatening and intimidating, the better. People smell a power trip a mile away. I call someone in the office because it’s quieter, less distracting, or I need to write it down. Many times a standing meeting in the department works just as well.
NEXT: Change Is Always Good