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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

Generally when we think of the media, it is the major newspapers, magazines and network radio and television that come to mind. While they still remain important to any organization seeking to generate awareness about itself, the Internet has created a whole new vista of media outlets that cannot be overlooked. In fact, more and more organizations are utilizing sites on the Internet to disseminate their news.

And a growing number of SIOP members are finding their way on to Internet sites because writers, whether mainstream media or on the Internet (often reporters are writing for both), still need credible resources. In addition, SIOP members are being asked with increasing frequency to author articles for a variety of sites, including trade journals, newsletters and specialized publications.

So, the opportunities for media mentions are expanding and that is good for the field of I-O psychology. Following are some of the press mentions, including Internet sites, which have occurred in the past several months:
The cartoonish loop-de-loop signature of U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was the subject of a January 29 U.S. News & World Report story about what can be learned from handwriting. Not much, when it comes to personnel decisions and a person’s fitness for a position, said Mike Aamodt of DCI Consulting Group in Washington DC. “Graphology or handwriting analysis is considered less valid than other commonly used personnel selection methods,” he said, adding that graphologists may be good at picking out features of handwriting, but their interpretation of what it means is questionable.

The January issue of gradPSYCH magazine included an article describing how psychologists can analyze and interpret the huge amounts of data being collected by organizations. Doug Reynolds of Development Dimensions International, Inc. and president of SIOP, noted that Big Data is a hot business topic driving a variety of business decisions, including human resources. Roni Reiter-Palmon of the University of Nebraska Omaha noted that, although mathematicians and statisticians can crunch big numbers and decipher trends, psychologists add their training to think critically about human behavior to the mix.

New research suggesting that overweight executives’ leadership abilities and stamina were affected was reported in the January 16 Wall Street Journal. Eden King of George Mason University and Steve Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina Charlotte participated in the study for the Center for Creative Leadership. Using data from 757 executives measured between 2006 and 2010, the study found that weight might indeed influence perceptions of leaders as being less effective among subordinates, peers, and superiors. 

The January 8 issue of MSN CareerBuilder offered advice for job seekers, and Lynda Zugec of The Workforce Consultants with offices in Toronto and New York City said that “positivity and persistence are the key” to a successful job search.

Research from The American Society for Training and Development noted that U.S. firms spent $156 billion on corporate training in 2011, yet bad management continues to plague many companies, according to a story in the December 28 issue of Psychology Today. One reason poor leaders are hired is that narcissists are more likely to ace interviews and to be selected. Unfortunately, narcissism doesn’t equate to leadership success, said Stanley Silverman of the University of Akron. He has developed the Workplace Arrogance Scale that differentiates between narcissism and competence that can help organizations avoid costly hires.

During 2012, the boards of several big companies took the unusual step of issuing statements backing their CEO reported the December 18 Wall Street Journal. Rallying around a besieged chief can calm employees, lift a depressed stock price, and borrow time so that he or she can deliver on a risky strategy. Management experts say the trend shows, in part, how boards are coping with harsh criticism from vocal hedge-fund investors. “To resist such activists’ push for short-term remedies, highly visible and accountable boards are stepping into that communication arena more than ever before,” says Paul Winum of RHR International (Atlanta.).

Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessment Systems contributed to a November 29 Forbes article about what matters most to employees. Overcoming stress was a major concern because as Hogan said “75% of working adults say the worst and most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss.”

The December issue of Certified Accountant magazine included comments from Kathleen Grace of Grace, Ltd. in Toronto about a published 3-year research finding that companies with the largest proportion of women in senior management roles also had the strongest bottom lines. She said once women are put in leadership positions, they score higher satisfaction points from employees than do their male counterparts. She also pointed out that “many organizations do not recognize the full potential of women, and often when male leaders make promotions they unconsciously prefer men over equally qualified females.” She called it a “similar to me” bias.

A similar story about the lack of women leaders in the fashion industry appeared in the October 29 issue of Women’s Wear Daily quoting Anna Marie Valerio of Executive Leadership Strategies in New York City. The imbalance seems to be the product of both a lingering sexism in the corporate sphere and circumstance as women strive for a work–life balance. Valerio said women need to get more “stretch” assignments that give them a management role and profit-and-loss responsibilities, as well as a chance to interact with customers and gain international experience. “One of the issues for women and their bosses is to help women develop broader networks so they can understand how the entire organization works.”

The December 10 issue of American Express Business Forum had a story about the importance of organizations maintaining a work–life balance for their employees that included comments by Lynda Zugec of The Workforce Consultants. “Being perceived as an ‘employer of choice’ because of work–life balance policies can provide a competitive edge for attracting and retaining talent,” she said. “Employees who are positive about their workplace help to foster a positive attitude,” among all workers, she added.

She was also quoted in a December 10 Toronto Globe and Mail story on holiday partying, which suggested these events are good opportunities to network and to get to know people better. She noted that although people are easier to talk to and more approachable at holiday parties, “it is important to gauge whether they are open to discussing business.”

A December 5 story about the importance of balancing credit and blame for business failure or success in Investor’s Business Daily featured Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City. How leaders handle credit and blame “really gets to the core of careers, workplace dynamics, teams and organizations,” he said. Successful people name contributors and thank others when good things occur. They also take the heat when things go wrong, shouldering responsibility and listing key lessons they’ve learned, he said. Poor leaders are quick to focus blame on others when things go wrong.

Dattner also contributed to a November 19 MarketWatch/Wall Street Journal article that featured four must-have job skills for employees, including clear communication, personal branding, flexibility and productivity improvement. But it’s not just employees who need the skills; even hiring managers need to work on certain abilities as organizations consider expanding. “The ability to spot talent and hire people has fallen out of use over the last several years,” he said, adding “as the economy turns around companies will have to work harder to retain talented employees.”

On November 9, Dattner was a guest on ABC-TV’s “20-20” program talking about rage in the workplace and employee meltdowns. He noted that workplace tantrums can be a cry for dignity and employers need to pay close attention to employee reactions to workplace situations.

Eduardo Salas of the University of Central Florida was the subject of an October 26 Wall Street Journal interview about corporate training. The article noted that U.S. firms spent about $156 billion on employee learning in 2011, according to figures released the American Society for Training and Development. Despite the cost, time and effort devoted to training, Salas said many organizations do not rely on the science of learning and training. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and many organizations are uninformed about what it is we know about learning and training development.”

Ryan Ross of Hogan Assessments wrote an article on improving engagement that appeared in the October 24 edition of TLNT.com, “The Business of HR.” Employee engagement is critical to the well-being of organizations and he noted that the emergence of a new role, chief culture officer, is one way companies are working to inspire workers. He said that the best-qualified CCOs are those whose values most closely match those of the company.
Please let us know if you, or a SIOP colleague, have contributed to a news story. We would like to include that mention in SIOP Members in the News.

Send copies of the article to SIOP at boutelle@siop.org or fax to 419-352-2645 or mail to SIOP at 440 East Poe Rd. Ste. 101, Bowling Green, OH 43402.