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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle
SIOP Media Consultant

SIOP members continue to be valuable resources for the media. With the annual Conference being held in Toronto, the Canadian media did several stories on both the Conference and some of the research presentations. It was a good opportunity to gain greater visibility for both the field of I-O psychology and the contributions that SIOP members make to workplace science.

In addition, SIOP members are contributing to a wide variety of stories, including online publications as well as magazines, journals, and radio and television interviews.

Virginia Galt, workplace reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail, covered the SIOP Annual Conference and wrote two stories. The first appeared April 16 and featured the research of Rice Universitys Robert Dipboye, professor of psychology, and doctoral candidate Kenneth Podratz. Their study found that physical attractiveness of job candidates is not a detriment and that the most attractive men and women get the most breaks in the job market. Its clearly discriminatory, said Dipboye, adding that there are no laws to protect the less attractive.

Research by John Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, was the subject of a May 15 article about the different conditions under which employees buy into organizational change. Organizations that arbitrarily impose major changes risk a backlash ranging from grudging compliance to outright resistance, Meyer said.

The SIOP Conference in Toronto was the subject of an interview conducted by Morningwatch Host Paul Vasey on CBC Radio in Windsor on April 11. Maria Rotundo, a University of Toronto assistant professor of management and a member of the SIOP Program Committee, described the field of I-O psychology and its value to the workplace as well as details about the Conference.

The Canadian HR Reporter turned to Kathleen Grace of Jackson Leadership Systems Inc. in Newmarket, ON for a story on leadership selection. She noted that employers are moving away from trying to hire leaders all cut from the same mold. Rather, they are looking for leadership specialties. She identified five categories: demand-creation leaders, solution-creation leaders, client service delivery leaders, integration leaders and enterprise leaders.

Joan Rentsch, an associate professor of management at the University of Tennessee, and Dennis Whittaker, president of Whittaker Corporate Psychology, Inc. in Charlotte, NC, both contributed to a May 6 article in the Charlotte Observer. Written by Sarah Lunday, the article was about the role social relationships play in job satisfaction. Spending time with colleagues does have an effect on career success, says Whittaker. It may be somewhat unfair, he says, but unfortunatelythe marketplace isnt necessarily fair. Spending time with coworkers and developing trust can affect the way people work together, adds Rentsch. Developing trust can be done in nearly any social settingfrom chatting in the break room to a weekend pool partyand people should take advantage of those opportunities, she says.

Three SIOP membersRobert Bies, professor of management at the Georgetown University School of Business, Robert Folger, professor of organizational behavior at Tulane University, and Elliott Ross, a senior vice-president at Manchester Consultingmade significant contributions to a story on how psychologists can assist companies in getting through the process of laying off employees that appeared in the April issue of the APAs Monitor on Psychology. The article cited research by Bies and Folger noting the importance of keeping employees informed about layoffs. Doing this can result in ex-employees staying more loyal and sympathetic to the company and avoid hard feelings which can lead to litigation. Ross said managers should tell staff what they can about layoffs as soon as possible to stop the rumor mill.

The March 25 issue of the Lansing State Journal, in a story discussing the current trend at some companies of combining sick and vacation leave to encourage employees not to take time off for minor ailments, cited Georgia Chao, an associate professor of management at Michigan State University. She noted that the practice of calling in at the last minute to get out of work is costly to companies. She said combining sick and vacation leave into one pool is a way to give employees more control of their time and eliminate jealousy over who gets time off and their reasons for taking the time. It equalizes the benefits in a society where employees have different needs, she said.

Grand Rapids (MI) Press business writer Barbara Weiland wrote a March 24 article that provides an informative summary of how I-O psychologists can assist small businesses, including evaluating managers, selecting employees, executive coaching and succession planning. The story relates how one family-owned company turned to Patrick Spielmacher, who owns his own firm in Grand Rapids, for help in preparing family members for future leadership roles. Businesses are starting to see that theres a science (I-O psychology) they can use, he said.

The March issue of Security Management magazine featured an article written by SIOP members John W. Jones and David W. Arnold, both with Reid London House in Chicago. Entitled Who the Devils Applying Now? the article focused on how the events of September 11 have created an enhanced need for employment and clinical testing to evaluate job applicants. It also discussed various legal issues surrounding applicant screening.

A March 19 column on the human resources Web site availability.com by business and technology writer Alan Joch, quotes George Mason University Assistant Professor of Psychology Lynn McFarland. Entitled Take the Gamble Out of Employment Screening, the story focuses on the growing use of skills and personality tests in employee selection. McFarland says that employers need to determine a valid correlation between the test and the job and advises companies to get help from a testing expert before relying on the results of a test. If an invalid test is used to hire people, the company could be vulnerable to a lawsuit, she says.

Thomas Tang, professor of management at Middle Tennessee University, contributed to a March 3 Toledo Blade article by Gary Pakulski about growing shareholder concern with the bulging salary packages CEOs and other top executives are receiving. Tang noted that the high salaries can harm employee morale and their perception of justice within the organization.

Two SIOP members, Warren Bobrow of The Context Group, a management consulting firm in Los Angeles, and John Hollenbeck, a management professor at Michigan State University, were featured in a March 11 Christian Science Monitor story about the growing use of personality tests (or style analysis as one HR director referred to them) to measure differing traits among prospective employees. Bobrow noted that tests must be able to be validated and should only be a part of the selection process. Valid tests are a good predictor of job success, he added. Because organizations have become more team structured, Hollenbeck said that personality traits and how team members deal with each other have become a lot more important.

The 2002 WorkTrends survey, produced annually by Gantz Wiley Research in Minneapolis, generated a lot of coverage because it revealed some timely and surprising information about workplace attitudes following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Jack Wiley, president and CEO, and Scott Brooks, GWRs research and development director, were quoted in numerous media reports. The report findings indicated that employees pride in their organizations and confidence in senior management jumped by nearly 5% over the past year. Following its February release, coverage appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minneapolis Star Tribune, on Minnesota Public Radio and several Minnesota radio stations, and interviews were conducted with stations in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Minneapolis television stations also covered the WorkTrends survey announcement.

A study coauthored by Maria Rotundo, an assistant professor of management at the University of Toronto, received widespread coverage in late February in the Canadian media. The research found that job reviews were rife with bias and that managers were inconsistent when rating employees. The paper, which appeared in the February 2002 issue of Journal of Applied Psychology, was coauthored by Paul Sackett, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. Coverage of the research appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the National Post, Workplace Today and the Canadian HR Reporter. Rotundo also did interviews with Report on Business Television, CBC Radio Windsor, and CBC Radio Ones This Morning, which is a national program.

A series of stories that focused on workplace violence prevention in the December 2001 issue of Todays Supervisor, published by the National Safety Council, included some quotes by Robert Jones, an assistant professor in the psychology department at Southwest Missouri State. In an article about providing constructive feedback to employees, Jones said that it was important to keep in mind the personality of the employee when discussing his or her job performance. Feedback interviews are more productive if done in a collaborative manner rather than an accusatory tone. Peoples responses to negative feedback are moderated by their personalities and an effective supervisor will take that into account.

For two December articles, writers at the The Philadelphia Inquirer called upon Donald A. Hantula, director of the Graduate Division of Social and Organizational Psychology at Temple University, for comments on the Internet success eBay and the introduction of the Segway Human Transporter. Hantula said eBay was successful, in part, because it provided a high-tech way of facilitating a basic need that humans have to acquire goods from one another. As impressive as the Segway is, Hantula does not see it changing the world. He said that it raises safety questions and wonders whether Segways will be allowed on sidewalks in the nations towns and cities.

Research by Leslie Hammer, an associate professor of psychology at Portland State University in Oregon, and colleague Margaret Neal, a gerontologist at PSU, was the subject of stories in both Time Magazine and the online version of BusinessWeek. They have been studying the impact of the twin responsibilities of elder care and child care on wage earners from dual-income families. These pressures spill over to the workplace and the study offers steps employers can take to support employees who have to manage work and family demands.

As always, please let us know when you or a SIOP colleague are mentioned in newspaper or magazine stories or are interviewed on radio or television. SIOP Members in the News recognizes the efforts by the men and women of SIOP to increase the visibility of our profession to a general audience. We would like to include all media mentions in this column. When possible, please send copies of the articles to 520 Ordway Avenue, Bowling Green, OH 43402 or tell us about them by e-mailing Lhakel@siop.org or fax to (419) 352-2645.


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