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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

The annual SIOP conference is always a rich source of news stories for reporters and the Atlanta conference was no exception. Several presentations caught the attention of reporters and found their way into various media.

Perhaps the best part was that more writers became aware of I-O psychology and the value it brings to the workplace.

Of course, not all SIOP members’ media mentions came as a result of the conference, but as usual, SIOP members are contributing to news stories on an ongoing basis, which is good for the visibility of I-O psychology and SIOP.

Following is some of the news coverage that has occurred in the past several months:

Kathy Schnure of Georgia Tech conducted research on narcissistic leaders that was presented at the April SIOP meeting in Atlanta. Stories about her findings appeared in the April 9 Management Issues, Psychology Central, the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, and several European publications. She noted that although narcissists do gain leadership roles, often based upon their charisma and ability to persuade others to accept their point of view, some of the underlying traits, or “dark sides,” will eventually surface, preventing any “good” leadership. Timothy Judge of the University of Florida also contributed to the story, adding that narcissists rarely live up to their high opinions of themselves. “More organizations should attempt to assess narcissism prehire or prepromotion to avoid them. It is a fool’s errand to think that narcissism can be corrected as a result of organizational intervention,” he said.

The May 5 Wall Street Journal carried a story about the long-term effects of layoffs of a large number of employees that included comments from Wayne Cascio at the University of Colorado, Denver. “You can’t shrink your way to prosperity,” he said. His study of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index showed those who cut the deepest, relative to industry peers, delivered smaller profits and weaker stock returns for as long as 9 years after a recession.

Schnure and Dennis Whittaker of CorpPsych in Charlotte, NC were guests May 3 on the NPR program “Charlotte Talks” and discussed narcissistic leaders with the host. Whittaker said good leaders care about their employees and invest in their success. Narcissistics are only interested in themselves and are not effective leaders, he said.

A SIOP conference research presentation showing how preventable hospital deaths can be reduced by encouraging error reporting by Dana E. Sims drew interest from several medical publications. Her study focused on the influence of a learning orientation culture within an organization and trust in leadership on worker’s willingness to report and document errors. Her findings were reported in the April 30 issues of Medical News Today, The Medical News, and Infection Control Today. She conducted the study for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Central Florida. She is now a research psychologist at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando.

Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City was interviewed for an April 29 Wall Street Journal story about questions job candidates should ask that may set them apart from other applicants.

The April 10 Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a story based on a SIOP conference presentation by Lori Foster Thompson of North Carolina State University on the consequences of using “smileys” when e-mailing prospective employers. Her findings: Smiley faces are acceptable for some professional correspondence because they evoke warmth and friendliness but not for application cover letters because it could negatively affect the employer’s impression of the applicant.

In the April 2 Human Resource Executive, Rebecca Schalm of RHR International (Calgary) discussed an RHR survey about onboarding challenges for internal executives transitioning to new jobs. Assistance is not usually offered to workers promoted internally, which leads to struggles that continue on longer than necessary. “When people were 9, 10, or 11 months into their new roles, they were still struggling with things one would have thought would have been resolved a long time before,” she said. Companies need to apply the same rigor to their internal transfer and promotion processes as they do for external hires, she said.

Schalm also writes a leadership column that is distributed to media outlets in Canada. Her February 5 column highlighted the roles leaders play in providing guidance others in the organization need for them to make decisions and take actions. Without overarching vision, values, and guidelines, organizations run the risk of expending a lot of energy in pursuit of wrong goals, which often leads to chaos, she wrote.

A March 3 column focused on the importance of productivity in organizations and outlined ways that companies fail to be productive. Her columns have appeared in the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Calgary Beacon, and Canwest News Service.

As the corporate proxy season began this spring, the March/April issue of Chief Executive carried a story about what shareholders and the SEC expect. Paul Winum of RHR International (Atlanta) was asked his thoughts. “The economy was teetering on the brink and still has not recovered, which is swinging the pendulum toward greater transparency and shareholder rights. There remain a lot of angry citizens writing their congressional leaders and demanding more of a say. The 2010 proxy season is occurring at the crescendo of these forces. Shareholders will be banging their collective fists about compensation and its relationship to corporate performance and risk,” he said.

Winum also contributed to a February 22 Wall Street Journal story about corporate succession plans. He noted that an altered SEC policy “has intensified board interest in preparing sooner for a leader’s exit, but it’s hard to get chief executives focused on planning their own funerals.”

Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City contributed to a March 30 Wall Street Journal story about how some chief executives live and work far away from corporate headquarters. Although some CEOs need to travel extensively to run far-flung enterprises and can keep in touch with headquarters through technology, Dattner noted they have less time to connect in person with other top executives and rank and file employees, and that can lead to hurting employee morale. “It’s a little bit like the general being based in a comfortable location while the troops are on the front line,” he said.

Dattner and Matthew Paese of Development Dimensions International were quoted in a January 31 Wall Street Journal story about how NBC handled the Jay Leno–Conan O’Brien succession. The first critical mistake made by NBC was to name O’Brien as Leno’s successor 5 years in advance. Dattner said that was too long because a lot can change in that time. Speaking about Leno’s return for a second act on the Tonight Show, Paese said “it would be a mistake for Leno to come back and to not acknowledge that there’s been a real hitch in his career.”

Michele Gelfand of the University of Maryland was a March 11 guest on the NPR program “The World” discussing how revenge may have played a role in a massacre of Christians by Muslims in central Nigeria in early March. She said that psychological research suggests that “revenge is a universal instinct that when you perceive you’ve been harmed, your group has been harmed, that there’s an instinct to get even. And this is something that’s common across cultures, across history,” she said.

Mike Aamodt of DCI Consulting in Virginia and Art Gutman of Florida Institute of Technology were interviewed for an March HR Magazine article about Chicago city officials considering scrapping their police entrance exam because of concerns about racial diversity on the force. At issue is a “paper-and-pencil” test measuring cognitive ability or job knowledge. “If employers place less weight on paper-and-pencil tests, they should augment them with structured interviews or situational-judgment tests,” Aamodt said. Added Gutman, “Public employers should be proactive. They should do pretest training for free, and they should make the test material available at no cost.”

Brian Lyons of Fresno State, Brian Hoffman of the University of Georgia, and John Michel of Towson University conducted a research project reported in the March 6 Atlanta Constitution-Journal showing that giving general mental ability tests to players is unrelated to future NFL performance. “General mental ability (GMA) is a strong predictor of future employee performance in most occupations, but that isn’t true for the NFL because it is so physically based,” said Lyons. He contends teams could get better predictors on performance by doing more football intelligence-based testing.

In a March 7 Scripps Howard News story, Theresa Welbourne of eePulse Inc. in Ann Arbor, MI said successful new business owners can make the best decisions by focusing on three main points: (a) Talk to other entrepreneurs and your customers on a regular basis so you know what is going on in your industry and the solutions you can offer; (b) by having a solid business plan in place with specific goals and budgets, it’s easier to make fast decisions; and (c) when decisions involve others, it’s important to communicate your ideas and listen to feedback before making a choice.

Carl Greenberg of Pragmatic HR in Chesterfield, MO was featured in a March 5 article in the Business Insider about firing employees. He said they should be warned that their performance is not meeting standards but should be given enough time, at least 4 weeks, to correct and improve their performance. He also emphasized the importance of protecting the employee’s dignity throughout the process. Monday morning is the best time to let an employee go, he said. “You want to quickly transition the person from working for you to the process of looking for another job, which is usually done during the week.”

Gary Johns of Concordia University in Montreal was featured in a March 2 Australian Financial Review article about the productivity effects and costs of employees working while they are sick. “For a lot of managers, having somebody at work, even though they are sick, is much more productive than having them absent,” he said. He noted there are “several different instruments to measure productivity loss but most are self-reported; so it is relatively easy to measure but difficult to measure well.”

The January 15 Toronto Globe and Mail carried a story on the good and bad aspects of competitiveness within an organizational setting and included observations from Thomas Fletcher of State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, IL. He said the competitive label is often misapplied to people who are achievement oriented. Competitive people are easy to spot because they “have a desire to win at any cost,” he said. In the long run, someone trying to outperform others instead of being cooperative will be more likely to deliver mediocre performance because the person seeks “easy wins” rather than working hard to do his or her best, 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 or fax to 419-352-2645 or mail to SIOP at 440 E. Poe Road, Suite 101,, Bowling Green, OH 43402.