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President's Column 



Mort McPhail


I’m not sure how time can move so quickly from the heat of summer to the heat of an election (on that topic see the thought experiment in the October TIP by Jessica Deselms, Lauren Bahls, Kristie Campana, and Daniel Sachau) to the halcyon clear, crisp days on autumn. Right now we’re having what we referred to in my consulting days as “recruiting weather”—just don’t tell them about August in Houston.

Part of the reason time has flown is that SIOP has been busy this fall, beginning with our September Executive Board meeting. We took several actions that I think fit well with my theme of focusing on the future of I-O psychology. For example, the board approved a proposal submitted by Deborah Rupp to establish a SIOP Corporate Social Responsibility registry to complement and enhance I-O’s visibility and impact in this arena.

The board also approved a funding proposal for SIOP’s participation in two future oriented events. The first was brought by Instructional and Educational Officer Milt Hakel to become a sponsor for APA’s first ever Summit on High School Psychology Education to be held next summer in Ogden, UT. Between the first Advanced Placement examination in psychology in 1992 and 2015, the number of students taking the examination has grown from about 3,900 to over 276,000, making the psychology AP examination one of the largest given. These numbers reflect the growing interest in psychology as a course of study, and the summit represents a long-term opportunity for SIOP to invest in its own future by introducing I‑O to educators and eventually to students. Having first encountered I-O as a high school student, I can attest to the power of being there early to plant seeds.

Membership Officer Mo Wang offered a proposal on behalf of both CEMA and the LGBT Committee to sponsor and fund attendance at the National Multicultural Conference and Summit (NMCS) to be held in Portland, OR, in January. The conference is held biannually among several APA divisions and serves to promote interactions and conversations to exchange research, information, and best practices among educators, practitioners, researchers, and students on a wide array of topics relating to multiculturalism. Former LGBT Committee chair Larry Martinez has agreed to attend on SIOP’s behalf. As diversity continues to increase in the workplace and across global organizational structures, I-O of the future must and will be prepared to provide the knowledge and practical applications to tap into the power of multiculturalism to the benefit of organizations and the people in them. The summit provides us an opportunity to link with our colleagues in other disciplines of psychology on these matters of crucial mutual interest.

In addition to preparing the NMCS proposal, CEMA and LGBT Committee chairs Kisha Jones and Katina Sawyer collaborated on a proposal to the board to develop means at our conference in Orlando in April to “visibly support/honor” victims of the hate crime committed at the Orlando night club last June. The board agreed that such recognition was appropriate and encouraged the committees to coordinate with the Conference Committee to fulfill this initiative.

Professional Practice Officer Rob Silzer presented a proposal to initiate a new Practice Update quarterly newsletter. This initiative responds to ideas raised in the last practitioner survey and will provide links to items of particular interest for practitioners, including tying into current research with application implications. It is my hope that this newsletter will foster communications among practitioners and with researchers. Professional Practice Committee chair Will Shepherd and Ben Porr from the committee are working on the content and format with Rob. Look for the first issue by email soon.

In a follow-up meeting, the EB also approved SIOP’s statement for the UN on living wages, which has since been accepted by the UN Economic and Social Council. The UN is in the process of translating it into its six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish). Thanks go to SIOP member Stuart Carr who coauthored the statement with Darrin Hodgetts and to the SIOP UN Committee (http://www.siop.org/Prosocial/UN.aspx) and its chair Lori Foster. The statement will be part of the 55th session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD55, https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/united-nations-commission-for-social-development-csocd-social-policy-and-development-division/csocd55.html). This session will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from February 1-10, 2017. The priority theme for the session is “Strategies for the eradication of poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.” It is through efforts like this that I-O psychology approaches the future with a growing ability to have global impact and to leverage evidence-based research to improve the lives of working people around the world.

As you might guess, given the unexpected election results, our advocacy work has taken on some complications. Jill Bradley-Geist and the GREAT team are working with our advocacy consultants at Lewis-Burke to develop transition documents to introduce SIOP and I-O psychology to the new administration and new members of Congress. That process slows to a crawl in Washington in the wake of any election, but we are preparing for new rounds of introductions and reinvigorating our efforts after the recently elected folks take office in the new year. As part of our effort in this regard, I have appointed a Task Force on Metrics to be chaired by Rob Ployhart. The application of science to the management of organizations and work improves both organizational and individual productivity, performance, efficiency, health, and well-being at work. In addition, research and application have for many years included examination and implementation of various metrics and methods that evaluate the financial and productivity benefits from improving organizational processes and implementing organizational interventions. In the larger sense, I-O psychology-based measures of organizational utility may be able to complement existing economic indicators in the United States to provide a more holistic assessment of American competitiveness. Other developed countries have integrated psychological measures of well-being into their range of economic indicators and contribute to their analyses and understanding of international competitiveness. Innovative psychological measures—such as well-being, satisfaction, engagement, and underemployment, among others—complement traditional measures like GDP. By integrating I-O psychology into economic indicators, the U.S. capability to track and analyze trends in U.S. economics could be enhanced, thus positively enhancing federal decision making, policies, and programs. The SIOP Workforce Effectiveness Measures Task Force is charged with investigating the feasibility of SIOP developing an index, measure(s), or indicator(s) that could be used to enhance and/or moderate existing economic indicators widely used in developing and evaluating public policy to take into account the value of effectively deployed and managed human capital.

In October one of our most successful Leading Edge Consortia was held in Atlanta. The hard work of Alexis Fink and the committee she chaired (Rick Guzzo, Hailey Herleman, Fred Oswald, Evan Sinar, and Scott Tonidandel) assembled a stellar group of presenters on talent analytics that really put the “leading” in Leading Edge. The presentations covered everything from the newest work in Big Data analytics to applications in the space program to the ethical considerations with which we must struggle in this rapidly emerging field. I am convinced that this is part of our I-O future, and it is already upon us and growing both more intriguing and more ubiquitous all the time. For more on the LEC, see Alexis’ article in this issue of TIP. At the end of the meeting, Rob Silzer, chair of the planning committee, announced that next year’s LEC will be held in Minneapolis and will focus on executive coaching.

Among the many things that have been going has been our search for a new executive director to replace the retiring Dave Nershi, a daunting task if ever there was one. Last February, Steve Kozlowski appointed a Search Advisory Committee co-chaired by Bill Macey and Fred Oswald and including Tammy Allen, Milt Hakel, Ann Marie Ryan, Neal Schmitt, and Nancy Tippins. This group worked through the summer and fall to execute a process that is an exemplar of selection practice, starting with a thorough job analysis, identifying an assessment process, and including in-depth interviews and a structured integration process. They have identified several exceptional candidates for us, and we are beginning the final rounds of interviewing and hope to make an offer very soon.

Based on a suggestion from Jayne Tegge of SIOP’s Administrative Office, we have initiated recognition for those who have been members of SIOP for 25+ years called the Sterling Circle. Communications Manager Stephany Below has been an important part of this project. SIOP exists because of our members, and we are grateful for the loyalty, expertise, experience, and contributions of our long-time members. Thank you for being a part of our Society; we look forward to continuing to serve you and all of our members as the future of SIOP continues to unfold.


The future…I have thought a lot about that since I set my goals for this year. What’s coming next? How do we prepare? What have we done in the past to be ready, and how can we acknowledge and celebrate that? What are we doing now to get ready, and how can I support that? What things will get in our way or be difficult to navigate? We seem to be doing pretty well—certainly there are a great many highly competent people working on the questions, which is a very good sign. I noted in my last column that it looked like we were going to be even busier—at least I got that much right about what the future holds for us. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down.