The Lab Rat is the team member that scurries around from location to location looking for morsels of cheese. Sorry, information. You’ll find them hanging out at the desks of their pals, next to the coffee machine, or out at the smoking area, even when they don’t smoke.
They’re not really that keen in doing any work, they are more interested in finding out who’s been doing what, with whom and when. They’ll be looking to spend their days keeping themselves busy chasing down tasty morsels of gossip instead of getting your project delivered.
Obviously, on the surfact this really isn’t a great thing for you, as you care passionately about getting your project delivered. But all is not lost if you happen to have a Lab Rat on your team, you just need to know how to manage them.
First of all you need to manage their workload to a level that you are getting an acceptable amount of work out of them; after all you’re paying for them and if they’re not delivering, you’ll not be having any of that.
They’re your eyes and ears on the street.
Then you need to take advantage of their personal network. Use them to keep you appraised of what’s happening on other projects, with other managers and keep yourself ahead of the competition when it comes to soon-to-be-available resources, potential budget-cuts, political in-fighting, etc. All the things that you may be able to use to your advantage on delivering your project.