Below some indispensable guidelines for the young & old group leader….
- Only hire PhD students with a good sense of humor. This becomes extremely important when their project and, hence, their relationship with you enter a critical stage. Therefore, always make two jokes during the job interview: a good one and a bad one. If the candidate laughs twice, don’t hire!
- Upon hiring your first PhD student, stop working in the lab. If you can’t resist doing some experiments, wait until after dark when everybody has left. Never report on the outcome, unless you are absolutely certain it wasn’t rubbish. Unfortunately, these measures are necessary to cover up your own clumsiness and preserve your authority.
- During each working discussion, pretend you are making notes. This should discourage anybody from showing you new data twice.
- If a PhD student mumbles he/she didn’t have time to do any experiments last week, mention that you are not at all worried about that. Then point out that you already passed your thesis defense quite a while ago.
- If a PhD student completely ruins a simple experiment for the 11th time, say you are totally confident that he/she will complete the project succesfully in time.
- If a PhD student storms into the office telling you that the ultracentrifuge broke down, immediately ask which action he/she has taken to solve the problem.
- If a PhD student messed up his/her lecture at an international conference in spite of countless rehearsals, say it was pretty good.
- If you suspect your PhD students are gossiping about you, pass by their working bench three times. If they stop talking each time, you were probably right. In that case, go back to your office and relax. If the conversations continue as if you weren’t there, start worrying about your status as group leader….