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Keeping Practice on the Move

Rich Cober
Marriott International

Every year the SIOP conference comes and goes, and in its wake excited attendees go back to normal work with a bit of a fresh lens and reinvigorated perspective on the work we do as I-O professionals. As I transition from Practice Committee Chair and hand over leadership of the Practice Committee to the exceedingly capable hands of Tracy Kantrowitz, I thought I might share a few reflections from SIOP and what our committee has accomplished and continues to do to support the well-being of SIOP practitioners (be they completely applied or more research oriented).

Work to Help Practitioners Have an Impact on Others

Once again at SIOP, the IGNITE session format attracted big audiences and delivered with thought-provoking, unique commentaries from luminaries in our field. The Saturday IGNITE session focused on the impact of I-O—spanning from societal to individual perspectives on impact. The presentations were all fantastic. One in particular, delivered by Mark Schmit, a SIOP Fellow who works for SHRM, spoke about the impact that I-O psychologists can have on the HR profession through coordinated efforts between SIOP and SHRM. During the past 2 years, we have been working on getting the SHRM–SIOP paper series into a regular production schedule. Given the 260,000 SHRM members—some of whom are SIOP members, myself included—the efforts of SIOP to better disseminate information and knowledge through SHRM can have tremendous impact. At a separate session about the SHRM–SIOP series, Anu Ramesh, Mark, and I teamed with Ben Schneider, Karen Barbera, and Gerry Ledford to talk about how to contribute papers that support our partnership. Looking ahead, this is a great opportunity for sharing I-O insight to the practitioner community, and I would encourage those with interest to follow up through the Practice Committee with ideas for papers or to simply request information that describes the type of paper we are looking for and topics of particular interest to the SHRM community. 

Mentoring is an area where the committee has had continued success with enduring impact, thanks to the leadership of Sam Ritchie and Mark Poteet. This year, a full room enjoyed time in the speed-mentoring sessions. What has struck me about the sessions is the extent to which both the mentors and mentees get extreme energy from the experience. From a practice perspective, this is a concept that translates so well to many organizations looking for novel ways to develop talent without breaking the bank. Take one part of structure, and another part of mentor time and willingness to share, and you get a recipe for a fantastic opportunity to facilitate knowledge transfer and create connections that last.

Focusing on Continuous Development and Career Planning

As you renew your membership this year, you will find an option for renewal that allows you to easily add SIOP Research Access to your membership. Featured among those resources is the EBSCO research database that is accessible for SIOP members at a cost that can’t be beat. EBSCO representatives attended SIOP this year and provided insight for many about the benefits of this particular access for SIOP members. In our 2007 Practitioner Survey, one of the prominent requests from our membership was for SIOP to provide resources that facilitate continuous development—notably more ready access to research. The EBSCO databases hit the bull’s-eye for this need. Not only are prominent academic journals included in the databases, but also some of the most prominent business periodicals such as Harvard Business Review. At a cost of $50—which is less than the subscription rate for many of these resources in print form—this benefit can’t be beat. Remember to opt in to this benefit whenever you renew membership.

At the Executive Board meeting after the conference, an exciting project that has been in the cross-hairs of the practice committee for some time received a formal green light. This project involves a study of the career paths of I-O professionals, focusing on understanding how the job of an I-O professional may change with career stage and gaining focused insight into those experiences that contribute to successful transitions from one career stage to the next. The Practice Committee will be leading this work and coordinating with other SIOP committees to target the scope, resources, and ultimately the coordination to complete this work. The results of this study can have broad benefit for SIOP members looking for more guidance on how to build and navigate their careers, and continue to build our foundation for the training and mentorship of future I-O psychologists. As this work progresses, whether it is by raising your hand and volunteering to help with the work (for those who may want to) or simply participating in the data collection efforts, be they interviews or surveys, please do what you can to help the committee deliver an impactful set of findings and recommendations that can guide future planning around the support that SIOP provides for continued professional development.

As I move on from the Practice chair, I look forward to many new contributions that will come from the Practice Committee. As always, enthusiastic volunteers are welcome. Be sure to identify your interest through the SIOP website if you want a more direct connection to the work of this or any other committee.