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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle
SIOP Media Relations
Reporters have found SIOP and its members to be credible news sources who can provide them with information for work-related stories. And, it is not always the mainstream news media—large metropolitan newspapers and magazines—contacting SIOP members. There are numerous specialty publications and on-line sites looking for knowledgeable people to assist with stories. These publications have a surprisingly large readership and offer exposure opportunities for I-O psychology in a couple of ways: reporters learn about the field by talking with SIOP members and readers can become aware of I-O through the stories.
Also, because there are so many different media outlets, SIOP members are encouraged to share those outlets with the Administrative Office so we can add them to our growing media list to send our stories and refer SIOP members to reporters.
Every mention of a SIOP member and his or her work or comments in the media is helpful to our mission to gain greater visibility for I-O psychology and the work its members are performing.
Following are just some of the mentions in recent months:
The May 30 Wall Street Journal had a story about the right and wrong ways to recognize employees’ performance that quoted Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City, Kimberly Merriman of the University of Massachusetts, and Joan Brannick of Brannick HR Connection in Tampa, FL. Money isn’t always what employees want as a reward, Merriman said, citing a forthcoming study she cowrote that found workers prefer bonuses related to work-life balance, such as an afternoon off. Brannick noted that some companies make it a point to be aware of each employee’s primary interests, ranging from hobbies to beverages, authors and singing groups. Managers can use that information to reward deserving employees by giving them something they really want, she said. Because so many millennials spend a lot of time on their smart phones and computers, some companies recognize employees by laudatory messages on the company intranet, allowing co-workers to chime in with kudos or praise, Dattner said.
Fred Mael of Baltimore-based Mael Consulting & Coaching contributed to a May 17 Bloomberg News article about boring jobs. He said people are often reluctant to admit they are bored because of concern for the consequences. Boredom at work generally arises in either having to do repetitive, assembly-line kind of work or simply being underemployed and not having enough to do. Those who are underutilized often fear that if they bring it up to management they’ll get stuck with busy work or will be vulnerable to losing their job, according to Mael. “So the thought process is: it’s better to hunker down, say nothing and suffer,” he said. But passing the time by surfing the internet is not the answer, since that robs you of your desire to improve your skills and boost your internal networking to see what other jobs might be available. “Either way the first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem and recognize that if you are going to do something about it, you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone and not depend upon props of entertainment to get through the day,” he said.
Mael was also the subject of a lengthy interview in Military Leaders in Transition in which he discussed how military personnel can make a smooth transition to the workplace.
Megan Leasher, director of talent assessment and measurement at Macy’s Inc., has been identified by Human Resource Executive magazine as one of “HR’s Rising Stars” for 2016. She was profiled in the May issue and was described as “part psychologist and part scientist” in a job that requires her to apply psychological principles  and hard data to develop the talent and assessment strategies, tools and processes that help the 125,000-employee organization put the right people in the right roles.
A May 19 story in the Oregonian describing the new worker friendly offices of Google quoted Portland State University Professor Charlotte Fritz. Housed in a century-old building that was Portland’s first skyscraper, the offices feature a design that embraces an outdoors look as well as the conveniences and amenities to which contemporary tech workers have become accustomed. “It’s a highly competitive market, so how do you get the smartest, most talented people? You provide them with certain perks,” Fritz said. Creating a highly comfortable work environment shows employees that the company cares about them and is invested in their future. Another benefit: “It also makes the creative juices flow,” she said.
Matt Barney of Vacaville, CA-based LeaderAmp Inc. was featured in a May 18 Tech Republic story about the impact of team dysfunction on organizations. When dysfunction occurs at senior levels of organizations the outcome can be catastrophic, he said. “The science suggests that senior leadership conflict hurts the firm’s financials in several ways. For example, top management teams with strong internal and marketplace networks are likely to have solid sales growth. If senior leaders aren’t sharing their valuable networks, it will hurt the firm as well as the conflicting leaders. Consequently there’s substantial science to suggest that they should be  investing in each other,” he said.
In its May 18 edition, Fast Company ran an article about the growing use of artificial intelligence in hiring decisions. Adding AI to the hiring mix, organizations say they can assess work skills as well as personality traits like empathy, grit, and prejudice to provide a richer understanding of the applicant and whether they will be a good fit. Jay Dorio of IBM’s Kenexa Smarter Workforce division said “the issue I have as an organizational psychologist is that you can claim to measure all sorts of fancy buzzwords. For example, grit is a great attribute to have, but it is superfluous and funky stuff that could have an adverse impact for using criteria that appear neutral but could be discriminatory. Kenexa does not use AI in evaluating employee assessments, he said.
A May 16 NASA publication announced that a proposal submitted by Suzanne Bell of DePaul University is one of six selected by NASA and the German Space Agency to support behavioral health and performance of astronauts on long duration space exploration missions. She will be developing a model that details how team member attributes and interpersonal perceptions affect relationships in isolated and confined environments. All of the selected studies will take place at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) at Johnson Space Center in Houston. HERA is a unique modular three-story habitat that provides a high-fidelity research venue for scientists to use in addressing risks and knowledge gaps associated with human health and performance during spaceflight.
Ideally students can find summer jobs in the fields they hope to eventually work, but the reality is that many are not so fortunate, writes Paul Baard of Fordham University in a May 15 column in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Often they “settle” for jobs in service roles such as restaurant staff, retail clerks, and so forth. But they can be much more than just a “summer job” if they view these roles from a different perspective, he said. These jobs provide students the opportunity to develop new skills such as listening, communicating, resourcing, collaborating, initiating and persuasion. 
In a May 14 column in the Washington Post, Joyce E. A. Russell of the University of Maryland described the benefits for employers who support educational opportunities for workers. Research shows that individuals who have opportunities for professional development are more engaged and committed to their firms than those who do not have those opportunities, she said. Any learning program aligned with the strategic goals of the firm will bring more value to the firm, she added.
Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City contributed to an April 4 story in the Huffington Post about first-born children. Numerous studies show that birth order plays an important part in development of children and that elder siblings tend to be more responsible and conscientious, among other traits. Dattner said that firstborns are achievement-oriented and eager to please their parents. Research also suggests they tend to dominate their younger siblings as an authority figure of sorts, making them acutely prepared to take on leadership roles in the professional world, he said.
Paul Winum of RHR International was quoted in a March 29 Wall Street Journal article about how companies are grooming star executives by finding seats for them on boards of other companies. Insiders are now gaining a record number of CEO spots and corporate directorships give senior executives exposure for how other companies operate. “About 80% of big businesses now use their professional contacts so key players can land board spots, because the experience broadens their perspective and ability to deal with a board,” he said. Just 20% of companies made these efforts a decade ago, he estimated. Sitting on a board of another company is better than an MBA, the article stated.
David Mayer of the University of Michigan writes columns for Fast Company on ethics in organizations, including his April 13 offering “Why Your Ideas of Success Might Be Making You Miserable.” “The common measures of success—productivity, efficiency, and professional achievement—don’t reliably make us happy, at least not in the long run,” he wrote. “Fortunately, we can be successful and have happiness and meaning if we adjust our notion of excellence and what it is to succeed,” he said. He offered four simple habits that can make people happier, including:
  • Modest behaviors do have an impact upon happiness. Smile and acknowledge others. Listen well. Open a door for someone. Doing little things for people can be beneficial.
  • Unlike the work skills we hone at work in order to achieve the usual type of success, doing “good” when nobody is watching will have no material outcome. Yet being ethical and compassionate when you don’t have to can have a powerful identity-affirming impact that can bring joy and meaning to your life.
  • The goal is simple improvement. Ask yourself, am I a slightly better person today that yesterday? If the answer is yes, and you’ve defined that on terms that square with your values, then you are doing great
  • Don’t expect praise for all you do. Your focus should be on you and your core values, not how others perceive you in the short term.
In the March 5 New York Times column “Women at Work,” co-authors Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, point out that although much attention is given to equality for women, equality is good for men, as well. If men want to make their work teams successful, one of the best steps they can take is to bring on more women. Studies reveal that women bring new knowledge, skills, and networks to the table; take fewer unnecessary risks; and are more inclined to contribute in ways that make their teams and organizations better. They also point out that successful venture-backed start-ups have more than double the median proportion of female executives of failed ones.
They also make a strong case for equality away from work. Research shows that when men do their share of household chores, their partners are happier and less depressed, conflicts are fewer and divorce rates are lower. Equality is not just the right thing to do for women; rather it is a desirable thing for us all, Grant and Sandberg write. It’s time for men and women alike to join forces in championing gender equality.
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 East Poe Road, Suite 101, Bowling Green, OH 43402.