I think it's time for me to change how I approach managing the lab personnel and I am trying to determine the best middle ground between keeping an eye on how things are going and not breathing down people's necks. Previous to now I have kept things very informal and basically checked in with people when I happened to have questions or had them come to me for the same. However, I have another grad student starting in a couple of weeks, at least one undergrad for the fall and a post-doc coming in on a project I am a co-PI on. On top of tat, I am available less because of the writing I have lined up for the fall. There is the potential for people to start falling through the cracks, and I can't afford that right now.
What I think makes the most sense is to block out an hour at some regular interval and have 15 or 20 minutes for each student to come in and informally chat about where they are at and where they are headed. I think this would give me a better sense of on-going problems in the lab and how each student is progressing. The question, however, is what is the interval in between meetings? My initial thought was a week, but that seems like a really short time period if we're going to discuss data and progress. Two weeks? Perhaps that would be better. I think once a month is too long and leaves the potential for things to really slide in between meetings.
While I am not trying to clamp down on the lab and micromanage, I want to establish a regular meeting time before there are issues that need to be dealt with so a mechanism is already in pace. I would rather not manage in a reactionary fashion, but keep dialog open and head things off before the are problematic. It's a fine line between proactively keeping things on the right track and making people feel like you are watching over them.