“You are not working for me, I am working with you on your project”
This is one of the first sentences in a document I have written for new starters in my lab. I want to be explicit about the expectations I have of them. And being proactive and independent is very high on my list.
It’s OK to be pushy!
I also give all new starters a copy of Kearns and Gardiner’s Nature article The care and maintenance of your adviser:
“Maintaining your adviser means asking for what you need rather than hoping that he or she will know what to provide. …
[A]lthough it is natural to complain about your adviser — and can even be cathartic — it is not enough.
If your adviser is not giving you what you need, you need to go out and get it. “
I think this is very helpful advise for students and postdocs: It is Ok to be pushy!
The way I understand this part of a supervisor-student relationship is: If you need me I’ll help you in all ways I can. But you need to tell me what you need.