#48 from R&D Innovator Volume 2, Number 7          July 1993

FORUM—from our readers

Vie for Attention!

I direct a team of materials science researchers in a large company.  I used to be frustrated that my boss spent so much time visiting some of the labs under his control and so little visiting mine.  The labs on his visiting route were doing the most exciting research, while mine was usually assigned to more mundane objectives.  Our group felt like second-class citizens, and our morale and productivity suffered.

One day I got up the nerve to mention the problem to my boss, and he responded that it wasn’t that he was ignoring us, but rather that the other labs needed more attention.  He also admitted that he was unaware that we were disturbed by his actions, and that he would try to correct the situation.

He did start visiting us more often—for a couple of months—but then he returned to the old routine of ignoring us and focusing on the other labs.  He didn’t seem to be trouble-shooting in those labs, but rather enjoying camaraderie with the researchers.

I talked the situation over with my group and came up with the plan to invite him to visit us every three weeks so we could tell him what was going on in our lab and what innovations could arise from our work.  As this latter topic seemed to spark his interest, before each visit, our group planned presentations focusing on potential for innovation.

My team now feels more important and is aggressively focusing on new opportunities for innovation.  One of our developments made a major contribution to our manufacturing operation and was recognized at the corporate level. 

Don’t wait for your boss to notice your work.   Take the initiative to make sure your group is visible—and your boss is enthusiastic about your activities.


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