A principal investigator at a veterinary research institution carpeted her office with the lab technician's reports and refused to sign the technician's time card. When such subtle statements failed to adequately convey the boss's consternation, the PI assigned the technician to work a machine already occupied by a graduate student, forcing the staff member to start her own work after closing time.

The PI failed to use the most common technique for influencing the lab tech's working practices: Explaining how to satisfy requirements and reporting when the expectations change. "She usually did not communicate changes until months after she decided on them," says the former technician, who is now a graduate student. "Occasionally she would attend the lab meetings she called and discuss expectations then."

Such a toxic relationship between PI and lab tech may represent an extreme. But many respondents to The Scientist's recent survey "Laboratory Relations: Working...

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