How to Build a Successful Team of Scientists

A team is only as strong as its weakest link. That is a popular saying amongst managers and leaders. It means that, on a team, everyone is important, whether they be the most skilled or least skilled person. A resilient team is paramount for goals to be accomplished and success to be achieved. That is why it is important for Group Leaders and Lab Managers to build a successful team of scientists to achieve the lab’s goals. We will go over how the most extraordinary teams are organized, as well how to best build your own team of scientists. Teamwork is one of the best ways to success for a lab, and it’s important to develop it.


Building a Successful Team

  • Develop Strengths and Mitigate Weaknesses
  • Be Supportive and Encourage Camaraderie
  • Critique when Needed yet Praise Accomplishments
  • Celebrate Individuality
  • Remain Humble
  • Orient Goals


Develop Strengths and Mitigate Weaknesses

One of the first things you must do with a team is help develop each member’s strengths. No one can be good at everything, but everyone is good at something. Use that. Talk to members and see what values they have, what their experiences are, and what they want to do for the lab. It’s important to gain perspective on what their best attributes are. Once you have an idea, you must put them in the right position to help your laboratory. Different employees will have distinct strengths. Knowing every person working in your lab is a good step to understanding the capabilities of your staff.

As much as it pains to admit, just as everyone has strengths, all people have weaknesses. It is only human nature, and it is a part of everyone’s character. So, it is important that you orient your team members so that they are not a hindrance due to their deficiencies. You would not order the youngest member to do the most complex work with his or her weakness being lack of experience. Now, that example might seem obvious to some, yet it is to prove a point. You must be wary of your team members’ weaknesses and move them away from tasks that would impede them, and to an extent, the laboratory as well. Doing this will help your lab prosper and do more work per day.


Be Supportive and Encourage Camaraderie

Everyone likes a leader that has their back, so to speak. They are willing to work harder when they believe that, as a leader, you will be able to support them, rather than just being a boss. It’s a system of trust led by you. Be willing to support your team, and regularly communicate with them to see if they have any feedback for you, as you provide constructive feedback for them. If they have a regular dialogue with you, it will lead to a better understanding between your team members and you. They will work harder if you are willing to view them as people, rather than mere assets for the lab.

In addition, a lot can be said about teamwork between all the team members. You can support your members as best as you can, but in addition, it matters if you can provide opportunities to better the camaraderie between team members. If they have substantial teamwork, they will be able to work together well to accomplish the lab’s goals. In order to do this, you must allow your members to see each other as not just co-workers, but as friends. It builds trust across your team. It is best to set up events and team-building activities outside of work time. They will help garner trust among the members, leading to a stronger sense of teamwork and camaraderie.


Critique when Necessary yet Praise Accomplishments

Nobody really likes criticism. It undercuts their confidence and makes them feel lesser. However, it is a necessity to criticize (positively so) mistakes that team members make so that they aren’t made in the future. It’s important to talk to members in a non-condescending manner. If they feel patronized, it will only lead to them harboring resentment for you and the rest of the lab. They won’t want to work hard when they feel like they aren’t appreciated, and all criticism comes with a disdainful conveyance. So, be cautious with your criticism, and do it with the best intentions in mind.

Just as no one really likes criticism, everyone loves appreciation and praise for achievements. You can use this to your advantage. If a certain member does something that goes above and beyond, celebrate that accomplishment. It performs two tasks simultaneously. The person you’re celebrating gets the pride they believe that they deserve for the accomplishment, increasing their loyalty. As well, other team members can see that their achievements can lead to recognition. This is a motivating factor, as people who see that strong performances lead to direct appreciation. And, they will continue working hard as well.


Celebrate Individuality

It is important to remember that each member of your lab team is their own individual person with their own thoughts, goals, dreams, and ambitions. You must realize this to be able to understand why people act the way they do. Diversity is often a word thrown around as well to build successful teams. And yes, it is important, but one must understand what it entails more than anything. Use diversity to allow people to have their own individual thoughts, beliefs, and habits. Develop this individuality and diversity of your team members. It will help your lab grow by having them be viewed as real people rather than robots.


Remain Humble

We are all human beings, which means we can all fall short sometimes. We can lose sight of what is important. That’s why, as a Group Leader, you must be willing to remain humble when interacting with your team members. I mentioned before, but a condescending attitude is disastrous for worker morale, and it can lead to apathy. However, with team interaction, allow yourself to be viewed as a team member itself, besides just being a leader. This will show your colleagues that you consider yourself among them, rather than a boss, unreachable by the lowest rung.


Orient Goals

As a laboratory, you have several goals you wish to accomplish. It remains to be seen, however, that your individual team members may not have those goals as their personal goals for their professional life. For some researchers, the work done in your lab might only be a means to an end, so to speak. So, it is important to open a dialogue with your team members. You must converse with individuals, to see what their professional goals as well. Doing this, you can convince them of the connection between the lab’s goals and their goals. If the team members believe that their goals will be accomplished when the lab’s goals are as well, it will increase motivation.


Building a successful team is key to leading a prominent laboratory. Following these nine steps are a good way to start building your team up to be prosperous. Being a group leader is a vigorous position, and there is much to be balanced. Even so, we hope to give you some perspective on how to better construct and mold your team. Doing so will increase the successes and motivation of your team and lab.

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