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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

SIOP members have a wealth of expertise to offer reporters and by working with the media, they are providing opportunities to greatly increase the visibility of industrial and organizational psychology and SIOP.

Media Resources, found on the SIOP Web site (www.siop.org), has proven to be a valuable tool for reporters looking for experts to contribute to the workplace-related stories they are writing. Members who are willing to talk with the media are encouraged to list themselves and their area(s) of specialization in Media Resources. It can easily be done online.

A brief description of the area of expertise is important. Reporters look at those descriptions to determine if they will contact the SIOP member. If there is no description, reporters will not call.

Following are some of the news stories that have been printed, using SIOP members as resources, since the last issue of TIP.

Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City and Bill Berman of Berman Leadership Development in Stamford, CT contributed to a November 6 article in Forbes about career coaches. “There are a lot of people out there who are doing it (career coaching) without experience or credentials,” Dattner said. “They’re cultivating dependency and using mind tricks to win and get clients without actually helping.” He said people seeking a coach should do so with clear ground rules. Berman added that a person’s goals should dictate the kind of coach they consider. “If you need emotional intelligence, you should use a psychologist. If you want to present more effectively, talk to a communications expert,” he said. Look for a combination of a behavioral science background, such as psychology or social work, and real-world experience, ideally in the industry and demographic of the person seeking a career coach.

Bad bosses were the subject of an October 16 MarketWatch/Wall Street Journal story that featured comments by Jarrett Shalhoop of Hogan Assessment Systems and Kathie Pelletier of California State University, San Bernardino. Suggesting that technology can sometimes make communication worse, Shalhoop said visibility is a component of good leadership, and technology enables people to withdraw when needed most. He also noted micromanaging bosses tend not to give employees meaningful work assignments. “They don’t give positive feedback and do not trust direct reports to the do the work,” he said. Pelletier agreed saying that workers want leaders to provide opportunities to master a task or skill. “They (employees) want purpose in their lives and jobs, and they want some autonomy.”

The October issue of Oprah magazine listed 101 Best Pieces of Advice and Piers Steel of the University of Calgary and author of The Procrastination Equation offered suggestions on how not to waste time at your computer. One of them: disable e-mail sounds. The ding diverts attention from work and acts as a “Pavlovian cue to procrastinate.”

Paul Winum and Thomas Saporito of RHR International have published Inside CEO Succession: The Essential Guide to Leadership Transition, which was featured on the October 5 edition of CNBC.com. They listed three key messages: CEO succession is the most critical responsibility of a board of directors, with far-reaching effects on the well being and future success of the company; pay attention to the human dynamics of the choice, including associated matters of trust, competition, communication, and ego; and, finally, complete the process, realizing the board must pay careful attention to the transition period and to a new CEO’s early years of leadership.

Winum also authored a piece for the October issue of the National Association of Corporate Directors newsletter about CEO succession. He said boards are ill-advised to discuss the “who” without developing a blueprint of the successful new leader based on the external landscape, goals and strategy of the organization. He listed 10 key dimensions for an effective succession of leaders.
Paul Baard of Fordham University contributed to a September 20 Forbes story about controlling leaders. They are themselves controlled by their compulsion of having to do everything and doing it perfectly, he said. His research has consistently found that when workers have independence and the power to make their own decisions they are motivated, energized, and physically healthy. However, if they feel powerless, productivity goes down and illness increases.

Deborah Rupp of Purdue University was featured in a September 17 Science Communications (sponsored by the FABBS Foundation) article about fairness in the workplace. How employees perceive a workplace and react to that perception can profoundly affect their physical and emotional health, and in turn, affect an organization’s bottom line. “A sense of justice may build commitment, loyalty, and a sense of well being at work, whereas a sense of injustice may spark hostility, aggression, counterproductive behaviors, absenteeism, and even quitting one’s job,” she said.

Workplace whiners were the subject of a September 11 Wall Street Journal story that included comments by Jim Harter of The Gallup Organization (Omaha, NE). An annual Gallup poll shows that 18% of U.S. employees are actively negative and likely to complain about their employer. “That negativity can spread like a cancer,” he said, adding that work groups with high rates of negativity tend to have lower productivity and higher rates of absenteeism and quality defects.

Lynda Zugec of Toronto-based The Workforce Consultants was quoted in a September 11 Human Resource Executive Online story reporting that employers who do not provide a sick leave policy risk damaging both employee health and organizational productivity. Companies with sick leave policies are able to attract and retain qualified employees and are viewed as more favorable and preferable than those who do not, she said. “When a sick leave policy is not offered, employees come to work unhealthy, can spread illnesses to others, and often end up extending their illness, which further dampens productivity,” she said. “A sick leave policy has the potential to improve employee health, job satisfaction and loyalty.”

Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessments contributed to the cover story of the August issue of Human Resource Executive about vetting top hiring decisions. One way of closer scrutiny is to seek out applicants’ former subordinates rather than the provided references. He advocates such interviews as well as intense psychological screening of candidates because, too often, the process fails to capture undesirable traits, such as narcissism and self-aggrandizement. He believes that is why as many as 65% of CEO hires end in short-term failure.

What to do when coworkers take the credit for good things others do and shift the blame to colleagues when they make mistakes was the subject of a story in the August 12 Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger. Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City and author of The Blame Game offered several tips. Among them: focus more on how you can “show” what you have or haven’t done instead of trying to “tell” what you have or haven’t done. The more your work is transparent and speaks for itself, the less you will have go try to argue for it’s merits or try to stop other people from spinning the story against you. “How you handle blame can either enhance your reputation or hurt your career,” he said.

An August 10 New York Times story about people seeking a new career after being laid off more than once from their previous job included comments by Jeff Conte of San Diego State University. The first step is to sort out the skills that can be transferable to other fields, he said. He noted useful sources include the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s O*Net Online, which lists jobs and professions where those skills are best utilized as well as areas that are growing or predicted to grow. He also suggested the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published every 2 years by the Department of Labor Statistics. “Doing this kind of research not only can help you decide which careers to pursue but also makes you feel emotionally better because you are doing something,” he added.
Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessment Systems noted for an August 5 USA Today story that “75% of working adults say the worst aspect of their job, and the most stressful, is their immediate boss. Bad managers create enormous health costs and are a major source of misery for many people.” Gordon Curphy of Curphy Consulting Corporation in St. Paul, MN, noted that bad bosses can have a dampening effect on employee engagement. Research shows that the higher percentage of people engaged in the workforce, the better the business results for companies. “There’s a clear link between your immediate boss and the level of employee engagement. We know mean and incompetent bosses are some of the biggest reasons employees become disengaged,” he said. Rob Kaiser of Kaiser Leadership Solutions in Greensboro, NC said that when experiencing a bad boss it may be best to “hunker down and hope the boss gets in trouble and removed or kicked upstairs and you get somebody else or you get a transfer.”

Hogan also contributed to a Terra.news story about personality types that can harm a business. He said that one of the most dangerous personalities in the workplace is the narcissist. It’s easy to make the mistake of hiring a narcissist, he said, pointing out “they always do beautifully on an interview.” Typically narcissists have a swagger, so watch a candidate’s body language closely for signs of cockiness, he said. “When you ask candidates about their experience working in teams, do they focus on themselves or make deprecating remarks about teammates? Those are red flags that you might have a narcissist on your hands.”

The August 7 issue of Insurance Journal had a story about workplace motivation that featured a study by Greg Stewart of the University of Iowa and Stephen Courtright of Texas A&M. “We found that self-managing teams exhibit increased performance when they are highly cohesive. Peer pressure is a strong motivating force, and workers’ willingness to please people who mean something to them is often a stronger motivating force than financial rewards,” Stewart said. “Teams perform better when there is social pressure from peers to perform well than when peers wave a carrot and stick,” Courtright said. “However, the carrot-and-stick method works pretty well when team members just can’t get along.”

The July 10 issue of Human Resource Executive Online carried a story focusing on the hesitancy of organizations and boards to publicly announce their succession plans that included comments form Ryan Ross of Hogan Assessment Systems. Among the reasons for not making the names of possible successors known: other organizations may recruit them and there may be competition between internal divisions and current staff members. If high potentials are not identified and not aware of their opportunities, they may become discouraged and leave, said Ross.

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 Road, Suite 101, Bowling Green, OH 43402.