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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

It’s been 10 years since SIOP created Media Resources, which is a service that lists SIOP members’ expertise in more than 100 workplace-related subject areas. Media Resources enables reporters to contact a SIOP expert who might be able to contribute to their stories. Since its beginning, the service has proven to be a valuable resource for the media and has resulted in many stories providing opportunities to greatly increase the visibility of I-O psychology.

In looking at Media Resources, there are still too many blank spaces after members’ names. Reporters need to have a brief summary of the area of expertise of the SIOP member in order for the service to be useful. Members are asked to check their listings in Media Resources to be sure they are complete. Members who are willing to talk with the media and are not already in Media Resources are encouraged to list themselves and their area(s) of specialization. It can easily be done online.

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

The November issue of Talent Management magazine included an article by Ken Lahti of SHL about how organizations can select the best talent. Identifying what’s required for success in specific roles can help ensure the right employees end up in the right roles and boost motivation and engagement, he wrote.

For an October 27 CNN story on managing a global workforce, Paula Caligiuri of Rutgers University said “understanding and effectively managing cultural differences is critical but often overestimated by those at the senior level. And doing this well could be a make or break deal for companies.”

An October 25 Washington Post story about football players’ intelligence as measured by the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test quoted a study by John Michel of Towson University, Brian Lyons of Wright State University, and Brian Hoffman of the University of Georgia. “We found in no cases was cognitive ability related to (football) performance,” said Michel. In fact on- the-field achievements actually increased for lower scoring tight ends and defensive backs. And for quarterbacks, whose intelligence is thought to be critical, there was no significant relationship between high scores and performance. In addition to Wonderlic, NFL teams are increasingly using frequent and extensive psychological testing.

Research on exit interviews by Elizabeth Lentz of PDRI was reported in the October 17 Business News Daily and the October 19 Chartered Management Institute among other news outlets. The study found that employers may glean more information about why an employee leaves the organization by talking with the worker’s colleagues. Specifically the research revealed coworkers often have a good understanding about exiting employees’ decisions and are able to provide accurate and valuable information regarding motives behind the exit.

The October issue of Workforce Management magazine included a story on predicting performance and the value of personality assessments that featured Adam Vassar of Hogan Assessments. He noted that personality assessments are effective ways to screen prospective employees as well as leaders. Using assessments “gives organizations a low-cost, low-touch, and highly predictive strategy for identifying high potential individuals from a large candidate pool,” he said.

An October 16 Wall Street Journal story quoted Paul Winum of RHR International (Atlanta) about the importance of executives looking for advancement learning how to interact with the board, especially when making presentations. For example, it is recommended that executives study each board member’s career path and personal background in advance of a presentation. Referring to another board on which a director serves or served shows “you have done your homework,” said Winum. But, he warns, do not cite the company’s poor financial results or else “you’re going to come off as an idiot.”

While some companies shy away from hiring overqualified candidates, a recent study by Aleksandre Luksyte of the University of Western Australia, Douglas Maynard of the State University of New York at New Paltz, and Christiane Spitzmueller of the University of Houston suggested that giving these employees challenging assignments can have strong positive impact upon the organization. Results of the study were reported in the October 13 Business News Daily. Luksyte said a sound strategy for hiring and retaining overqualified people “involves improving aspects of job complexity, such as freedom to make decisions, work structure, increased responsibilities for results, and communication with others.”

Ryan Ross of Hogan Assessments authored an article in a special advertising section of the October 2 issue of HR Executive Online about picking true leaders. Competent leaders are paramount to a company’s success, he wrote. “Businesses with strong leadership are 13 times more likely to outperform their competition and three times more likely to retain their most talented employees,” he wrote, quoting a DDI Global Leadership Forecast for 2011.
Ross also coauthored an article for the fall issue of Gaming and Leisure magazine about how personality assessments can help casinos reduce bad hires and improve the total guest experience. It’s a cost-saving measure, he wrote, noting that a recent study estimated negative customer experiences cost companies more than $83 billion in lost revenues each year.

When she was a doctoral candidate at Florida Tech University, Patrice Reid was an intern at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base. The experience proved valuable for her as she worked on research that addressed equal opportunity and diversity issues for use by the military, research that also applied to the business world. As a result of her work at the DEOMI, Reid was hired there and is now director of research simulation and learning. Her story was reported in the September 23 Florida Today.

Personality testing was the subject of a September 12 MarketWatch story that quoted SIOP members Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessments, John Hausknecht of Cornell University, Dana Landis of Korn/Ferry International, Michael Anderson of CPP Inc., and Michael McDaniel of Virginia Commonwealth University. Although it is tempting for test takers to fudge assessment answers, Hogan said “when people try to fake, they fake in characteristic ways, and it’s really easy to tell when someone is trying to game the test.” Hausknecht added that “nonsense questions” are sometimes added to “make sure people are paying attention.” Landis noted that assessment results generally do not come into play until there is a short list of candidates. “One of those candidates is a better fit than the others, and it’s at that point that we need the extra information” provided by assessments. “Assessments can also help applicants determine if they are suited for the position,” said Anderson, while McDaniel said it was important that applicants see the tests as “fair” and that they include questions clearly related to the job.

 When employees are just as stressed on Monday as they were on Friday, it’s time to start thinking about developing some destressing benefits from weekends. A September 8 story on Fox News referenced a study by Charlotte Fritz of Portland State University and also quoted Daniel Beal of the University of Texas. The study found that different types of weekend pursuits can help people recover from the week’s demands and replenish their emotional energy, but other types don’t. “Activities that you don’t have to force yourself to do or that require very little effort to initiate and complete are particularly helpful in recovering from the week’s stress,” said Beal.

A September 7 issue of Staffing Industry Analysts article about interviewing quoted Wendell Williams of Scientific Selection in Atlanta. “Managers mistakenly use interviews to get to know the candidate instead of drafting a list of specific questions to evaluate their transferable skills and experience,” he said.

After 8 years of research and development into person–organization fit, Derek Chapman of the University of Calgary has launched an online tool (www.counterpartmatch.com) that can help organizations find employees that best fit their needs and culture. Coverage of his matching system was reported in media outlets across Canada including the September 3 Calgary Herald, Financial Post, and Ottawa Citizen.

A study conducted by Paul Babiak of HRBackOffice in Hopewell Junction, NY concluded about 1 of every 25 business leaders could be psychopathic. The study’s findings were reported in media outlets in the United States and abroad including the September 1 Manchester Guardian in the United Kingdom. The survey suggests psychopaths are actually poor managerial performers but are adept at climbing the corporate ladder because they can cover their weaknesses by subtly charming superiors and subordinates.

The September 3 Wall Street Journal reported a similar study coconducted by Annelies Van Vianen of the University of Amsterdam. The research found that narcissistic leaders impress their subordinates with authority and confidence but also are underperformers.
On August 31 Computerworld ran a story about how MillerCoors brewing company turned to mentoring and social learning software to help its women sales representatives in the field to feel more connected to the company. Samantha Morris, an I-O psychologist with MillerCoors, noted the company was losing women in sales positions at a time when the company was trying to attract more women. The social software and a 6-month mentoring program for female sales reps is making the women feel more connected with other women who have similar work roles. “It gives them the opportunity to connect with each other more than in the past,” she said.

It’s amazing the effect of changing one word can have on peoples’ behavior, Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania and David Hofmann of the University of North Carolina found in a research project that was reported in the August 31 Wall Street Journal. Two experiments in a hospital setting pitted a sign stating that “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases” against one that stated “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.” The number of hospital personnel adhering to the patient-consequences sign increased but there were no significant changes in the number of people obeying the personal-consequences sign.

Maynard Brusman of Working Resources in San Francisco was quoted in an August 23 Philadelphia Inquirer story about workplace stress. “Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than any other factor in people’s lives, even financial or family troubles,” he said. He said a company can reduce stress by changing its corporate culture, “including increased awareness of the value of appreciation and positive emotions.”
Noting the growing popularity of conducting interviews via Skype, an August 22 story in CBS MoneyWatch offered tips for Skype interviewees. Lynda Zugec of Workforce Consultants in New York City said it was important to ensure the Internet connection is working properly. If there are technical difficulties and interruptions, it could reflect poorly on the interviewee.

Zugec also contributed to an MSNBC story about steps employees can take to secure a raise. She said timing was important and not to underestimate the importance of a good state of mind of the manager. The best time to ask for a raise is shortly after an accomplishment when the manager is receptive to a request, she said.

An August 16 story in Workforce Management magazine about the growing popularity of personality assessments quoted SIOP members Rebecca Borden of Vail Resorts, Ken Lahti of SHL, and Michael Anderson of CPP Inc. in Stillwater, MN. Borden said since implementing personality assessments into the applicant screening process, guest satisfaction at Vail improved, and preliminary evaluations indicate the hires are performing at a much higher level. Lahti noted that by using valid personality tests in the recruiting process, employers can get advance insight into candidates’ likely performance in a variety of work areas. Anderson agreed, adding assessments can measure multiple dimensions of a person, including leadership ability and amicability as well as broader workplace personality characteristics.

If bosses want to get more out of their employees, they may want to consider encouraging more socializing during sanctioned work breaks. That’s the finding of a study by Sherilyn Romanik of the University of Alaska, Anchorage and reported in the August 15 Newsday. Examining the relationships between behavior during work breaks and employee outcomes, she found evidence that the quality of employee interaction during the breaks was related to work engagement and self-perceived contextual performance, both positive outcomes. The study suggested that organizations might want to provide work- break settings that encourage quality social interactions among employees.

Today’s job-hunting workforce needs to be tech savvy, flexible about taking on new tasks, and seeking training to keep fresh in their field, according to an August 7 Miami Herald story. Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward of Human Capital Integrated in Miami, FL offered some tips on developing critical interviewing skills, especially for those who have not been in the job market for decades. “You really have to know your talking points,” he said. Highlight what makes you unique, he advised. “A jack-of-all-trades is not going to stand out.”

A mentoring column about individuals overwhelmed by technology by Joyce E. A. Russell of the University of Maryland appeared in the July 31 Washington Post. More choices, more pressure to get the latest device, dealing with constant upgrades, and confusing reviews can be bewildering. Russell suggested talking with younger people and becoming comfortable with reverse mentoring. Younger colleagues at work are usually happy to explain their devices. Take some time to learn from them, she advised.

Lillian Eby of the University of Georgia was profiled in the July/August issue of Monitor on Psychology. The story noted her research focus on workplace mentoring and that she uses her findings to be a good mentor herself. “One thing I’ve learned,” she said, “is the importance of fit. I try to tailor my mentoring style to students who want or need mentoring.”

The July 27 Staffing Industry magazine featured an article about purchasing employments tests by Carl Greenberg of Pragmatic HR Consulting in Chesterfield, MO. With so many vendors offering preemployment tests, he offered a guide to employers trying to decide which tests and other assessment products will help identify high-quality workers. One suggestion: Ask for a technical report that demonstrates the test’s validity.

Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessment Systems discussed the psychology of leadership and effective organizations in an interview with the Sydney Business Times. He said leadership is critical to an organization, and getting the right leader is important. “Research shows that not all bosses can lead. Some people have a talent for leadership, most people don’t have much talent for leadership, and some people are quite disastrous,” he said.

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, fax to 419-352-2645, mail to SIOP, 440 East Poe Rd. Suite 101, Bowling Green, OH 43402.