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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

SIOP members continue to be credible and reliable sources for reporters writing stories about the workplace. It is not always the mainstream press—large metropolitan newspapers and magazines—contacting SIOP members. There are hundreds of specialty publications and websites looking for knowledgeable people to assist with their stories. These publications have a surprisingly large readership and offer significant exposure opportunities for I-O psychology and SIOP members. Often these stories are picked up by the mainstream news media.

And, as always, presentations at the annual conference are a rich source of story ideas for media. The Administrative Office is now sending brief recaps of selected conference presentations, entitled Research Digest, to reporters. Given credible and interesting story ideas, reporters will develop their own stories by contacting SIOP members. As a result, several stories have been written about SIOP members’ research.
Every media mention of a SIOP member and his or her work or commentin the media is helpful to our mission to gain greater visibility for I-O psychology.

Following are just some of the media mentions from the past several months:

In a May 2 Business Week article about  whether employees should be disciplined for emotional outbursts, Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City said companies should not be so quick in laying off people who demonstrate certain types of aggressive behavior. It depends on whether the behavior was directed at another worker or at company property, like a computer or water cooler. “Open-minded organizations try to think in larger terms: Is this an individual issue, or are we all feeling frustrated?” he said.

Dattner also contributed to an April 5 CNN Money story about workplace stress. He said managers should look for signs, such as errors and missed deadlines or even little things like no longer greeting coworkers. “Small things can be a harbinger of big problems later,” he said.

Madeline Heilman of New York University was quoted in an April 2 New York Times story about the lack of women in computer science professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprise only 19% of software developers, and the statistics are similar in other computer science-related areas. Part of the problem is the recruiting of employees. “There’s a bias in the system,” said Heilman, “There’s the perception that women somehow don’t have the right stuff to fulfill these roles. It’s very hard to crack and has consequences for selection, promotion and task assignment.”

In a story about organizations using a co-CEO structure in the April 2 issue of Chief Executive magazine, Paul Winum of RHR International (Atlanta) said there were plenty of examples where two heads are indeed better than one. “It seems counterintuitive but the single CEO, ‘buck stops here model’ is not the only model that works,” he said, citing several examples of successful co-CEO arrangements.

He also commented in a February 28 story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune about a private company having its third CEO in 15 months. “At private companies, and particularly family-owned businesses, which constitute tens of thousands of businesses, there’s no outside pressure other than the dynamics of families,” Winum said. He also noted that research on the issue of succession indicates that companies perform a lot better when an insider is chosen over an outsider.”

There are several important characteristics to consider when assessing a job: pay and career opportunities to name a few, but the company’s culture is often overlooked said Brad Brummel of the University of Tulsa in an April 3 U.S. News and World Report story. Culture is hard to define and measure, and organizations tend to hide the worst parts of their culture during interviews. When researching a company it is best to go beyond the company website and do some research on a wider scale, including Twitter, Facebook, and third party review sites, although it is important to recognize that disgruntled employees may use the sites to vent their dissatisfaction.

The April 4 Wall Street Journal carried a story describing how some executives are asking employees to help identify and reward coworkers’ performance. Denise Rousseau of Carnegie Mellon University said rank and file workers often have the best information as to how others really perform. Ed Lawler of the University of Southern California said for that model to work “you need management that is comfortable giving up some say, and let’s face it, human nature isn’t all programmed that well.” He added that a growing body of research suggests that giving employees a voice in decision making, from performance assessment to idea generation, tends to result in higher employee satisfaction and, in some cases, greater profitability and productivity.”

Narcissists tend to do well in job interviews, according to a study co-authored by Peter Harms of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In the narrow context of job interviews, people with varying levels of narcissism (i.e., chronic self-promoters who spoke quickly and at length and who used ingratiation tactics such as smiling, gesturing, and complimenting others) received more positive evaluations from raters. “This shows that what is getting narcissists the win is the delivery,” said Harms. “On the whole we find very little evidence that narcissists are more or less effective workers. But what we do know is that they can be very disruptive and destructive when dealing with other people on a regular basis. If everything else is equal, it is probably best to avoid hiring them,” he concluded. The research was published in numerous outlets including the April 4 Toronto Globe and Mail, Lincoln Journal Star, Forbes, and Business Insider.

Faced with cutting nearly 600 civilian jobs, Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH, must deal with the departure of many highly experienced employees. Brian Lyons of Wright State University noted in an April 20 Dayton Daily News story that the loss of so many valuable workers can erode institutional knowledge. “That leaves a shortage of knowledge and skills across the board,” he said. The impact, though, can be lessened with a mentoring program.

The March Federal Register included a final ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on “Disparate Impact and Reasonable Factors Other Than Age Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.” The ruling cited a study on age stereotypes in the workplace by Michael Campion of Purdue University and Richard Posthuma of the University of Texas-El Paso.

Joanne Silvester of the University of London was quoted in a March BBC News Magazine story claiming that a bias toward extroverts puts them at an advantage in the workplace but that introverts are high achievers as well. Silvester said most organizations looking to recruit would steer toward extroverts on the assumption they make better leaders. Though extroverts may be better suited for some professions, like sales, introverts, because they are more willing to stand back and listen and take extra time to come up with a conclusion, may perform better in some organizations.

Lynda Zugec of Workforce Consultants based in Stoney Creek, ON, contributed to a March 22 CBS News story about mistakes to avoid in online job interviews. She said it was important to be sure the interviewer can hear and see (if using Skype) clearly. “It is in your best interests not to proceed if technical difficulties present themselves as the interviewer will be challenged in focusing on your responses, and it has the potential to reflect poorly on you,” she said.

When an ex-employee wrote a stinging commentary about his former employer, Goldman Sachs, it prompted a lot of reactions in the business press. In a March 15 Chicago Tribune story, two SIOP members were asked for their thoughts. Robert Rubin of DePaul University said the former employee’s complaints resonated with many employees because they feel their company’ practices violate its promise to customers and employees. Stephen Laser of Chicago-based consulting firm Stephen A. Laser Associates said such criticism, especially when well thought out, can spur positive change within an organization, that is, if the organization is willing to take a deep introspective look at what was being said instead of being overly defensive.

The less people sleep the more likely they are to cyberloaf was the finding of research conducted by David T. Wagner of Singapore Management University, Christopher M. Barnes of Virginia Tech, D. Lance Ferris of Pennsylvania State University, and Vivien K. G. Lin. Their findings were reported in a March 11 Wall Street Journal article. The study focused on the Monday after the time change in the spring, a time when people, on average, sleep 40 minutes less than normal. Entertainment-related and other Internet searches were 3.1% higher on the posttime shift Monday.

Many workers at one time or another have dreaded attending meetings because they are too long, irrelevant, and unproductive. A March 4 Daily Oklahoman story cited research by Joseph Allen of Creighton University that found that managers who make meetings relevant, encourage employees to speak about the topics being discussed, and who are cognizant of the length of meetings created an engaged and motivated workforce. “Meetings must have a purpose and that purpose must be meaningful to those required to attend,” he said.

Paul Baard of Fordham University contributed to a January 15 Wall Street Journal/MarketWatch story about handling anxiety in a stressful work environment. Try to help others rather than overburdening yourself with self-doubt and resentment, he advised. “In order to remain self-motivated, research has found that the innate psychological need for competence must be satisfied. This drive pertains not only to the ability to do a job but to achieve something through it—to have impact, to contribute. A way an employee can expand opportunities to satisfy this need is to help the team succeed by encouraging others,” 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, or mail to SIOP at 440 East Poe Road, Suite 101, Bowling Green, OH 43402.