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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

Generally when we think of the media, it is the major newspapers, magazines and network radio and television that come to mind. While they still remain important to any organization seeking to generate awareness about itself, the Internet has created an entirely new vista of media outlets that should not be overlooked. In fact, more and more organizations are utilizing online sites to tell their news.


We receive requests from online journalists looking for expertise for their stories and are able to provide SIOP member contacts, usually by utilizing SIOP’s Media Resources feature.  And we see more and more SIOP members contributing their own material to these sites.


As a growing number of SIOP members are finding their way on to Internet sites, the opportunities for media mentions are expanding and that is good for the field of I-O psychology.


Following are some of the media mentions, including online sites, which have occurred in the past several months.


The Nov. 14 issue of iMeet Central had a story about how in a virtual workforce it is often valuable to bring employees together periodically to ensure creative workplaces and that everyone is on the same page. Called core hours, their benefit is strengthening bonds between employees and elevating production overall. Lynda Zugec of The Workforce Consultants noted “culture is very difficult to control if you have a virtual workforce that never comes together.” She said it was important to articulate the value and timing of these meetings so that workers do not feel they are a waste of timing. “The whole point is that core hours happen at a time that is vital to the success of business. Highlighting the direct benefit of the core hours, on a continual basis is helpful,” she added.


She also contributed to a KJZZ FM (Phoenix, AZ) story about the changing workplace and how some employees, particularly millennials, are leaving the office to carry out work assignments at a more relaxing and comfortable workspace. “Basically the advent and increase of technologies that enable individuals to work remotely have shifted our past perceptions of what a workspace actually is, and it gives us more choice,” she said.  One drawback from an employer view is that when people work remotely they often do not have a handle on what workers are doing. One solution, she says, is to bring what people like about alternative workspaces into a traditional office building.” Spaces that are a little bit more lounge like and where employees move about freely are really ideal,” she said.


Given the divisiveness of the recent election and feelings of workers, employers may face a divided workplace, according to a November 11 Washington Business Journal story. Elliott Lasson of the Universities of Shady Grove in Rockville, MD contributed to the piece noted that the end of the election may actually benefit the workplace, providing an opportunity for sensitivity training or workshops on civil discourse and “how to agree to disagree and how to work together towards a common goal. In a good way we might start to reevaluate not just political candidates but also the concept of leadership and what does being a true leader really mean,” he said.


No matter the war, returning to the civilian workplace brings a certain set of challenges for veterans. For its November 9 issue a Workforce writer contacted several veterans and professionals involved with transition programs that help veterans better prepare themselves for the civilian workforce. Pat Engelhardt, who served 18 years in the Air Force and is pursuing a doctorate in I-O at South Florida State University, faced several challenges when she returned to the workforce as a female veteran. “I was 37 years young and had experience most men don’t have, but how could I compete for a professional position when I did not understand how the corporate America job search worked?’ she asked. Now she helps veterans better adapt to the business world.  Karin Orvis of the Defense Department’s Transition to Veterans Program said “just as service members must meet military standards while on active duty, they must now also meet career readiness standards.” TAP helps service members prepare sooner rather than later by encouraging them to think early in their military careers about the transition and what they will need to do to be successful. If people see veterans succeed, then the military will be seen as a more viable path for a successful career. “Effective off-boarding helps lead to effective on-boarding as well,” she said.


Jennifer Deal of the Center for Creative Leadership is on a panel of Wall Street Journal Experts and contributes articles to the paper. Her November 3 column dealt with the often annoying occurrence of receiving “Reply All” emails at work. To go through and purge emails that are not relevant to your work takes time and attention away from real priorities, she wrote. Although receiving “Reply All” emails is annoying at worst, companies can be held responsible for the content of their employees’ emails, so leaders have a vested interest in reducing the likelihood that an inadvertent click of a button can affect an entire organization. Organizations can fix this. But if they don’t Deal says employees should be careful to ensure they think before hitting the “Reply All” button.


With Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger’s scheduled retirement looming closer, there is no clear-cut successor and the board seems to be moving slowly in evaluating candidates. In a November 1 Wall Street Journal article, Paul Winum of RHR International (Atlanta) said Disney’s board should be casting a wide net, looking for candidates inside and outside the company, particularly ones with high-tech chops. “The landscape is changing so rapidly, technology is opening up new distribution platforms, and overseas markets will be huge opportunities,” he said. “The leadership skills have changed dramatically just in the last 2 years.”


Chicago Cubs fan Sandy Fiaschetti of Magnet Consulting, a Rochester Hills (MI)-based leadership and team development firm, wrote a piece for the November 4 Crain’s Detroit Business about how the Cubs’ championship season can provide leadership lessons applicable to any organization. Some observations:

  1. Take a chance and invest in young leaders. The Cubs did that by hiring a young (under 40) general manager and he built a successful team good for the long haul. Firms can create a high potential list and develop their young leaders through business-practical leadership workshops with hands-on practice, leadership simulations, and individual coaching.
  2. Use data from sound assessments. The Cubs used metrics to help evaluate players. Organizations can use scientifically developed skill tests, personality inventories, job simulations and behavior-based interviews in assessing employee talents. Don’t rely on a “gut feel” for a person’s value to the organization.
  3. Have an ace, but know that your bench strength may be what wins it all for you. Although the Cubs invested heavily in pitching, even the aces got tired, and it was the relievers that helped win the series. The lesson is to not commit development resources to a few, but do your homework and build a full team.
  4. Finally, don’t wait 108 years to be a champion.  Business is not just about putting the right strategic plan in place: it’s about acquiring, developing, and motivating the team that will get the results you need.


Kathleen Lundquist of APT Metrics in Darien, CT, contributed to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearing to consider the potential legal ramifications for companies that use big data to recruit job candidates and make hiring decisions. The hearing was reported in the October 14 issue of Politico. Experts have said the use of algorithms and “data scraping” of information from the internet to find and vet job applications could have a disparate impact upon minority groups. Lundquist pointed out that “algorithms may be trained to predict outcomes, which are themselves the result of previous discrimination. The high-performing group may be nondiverse and hence the characteristics of that group may more reflect their demographics than the skills or abilities needed to perform the job,” she said.


Paul Baard of Fordham University contributes a regular workplace column to the Manchester (NH) Union Leader. His October 30 piece focused on the potential danger of incentivizing employees: that is, rewarding them for completing a project. Sometimes it is better to simply tell an employee he or she is “doing a terrific job,” which can meet their motivation to excel and achieve. With consistency then a raise or promotion can follow.


Katharine O’Brien of CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, WI was asked by True Viral News her strategy to avoid being disproportionately asked to help or to perform tasks like pouring coffee: she simply says “no” and bluntly states she doesn’t, for example, take meeting notes because she believes it puts women in a subordinate position, “I’ve done this for years and found it to be effective. Most people understand my reasoning and any contention it causes is fleeting,” she said.


When a person is promoted to a higher position, it can sometimes be awkward working with former peers, notes an October 24 Forbes article. One pitfall is trying to continue acting as being another member of the team when remaining a little removed will help establish the new boss’s status as someone staffers can come to for advice and guidance, without harming the reputation for being approachable and relatable. But don’t remove yourself so much you appear snobbish, which can alienate people who report to you, said Ronald Riggio of Claremont McKenna College. “Getting to know your employees is the key to motivating and managing your employees and to having a high-functioning team,” he said. Do more delegating and avoid the trap of trying to do too much yourself, advises Brenda Fellows of the University of California at Berkeley. When stressed, people tend to micromanage in a misguided attempt to maintain control and authority, she said. She recommends a hands-off approach and trusting that employees will succeed. Be ready to help a team member when needed, but only then and not before, she said.


One impediment to a positive workplace is a bullying and hostile work environment according to an October 24 METRO article that quoted Amy Cooper Hakim, owner of Cooper Strategic Group in Boca Raton, FL. “A lot of people are not confrontational by nature and want to avoid uncomfortable situations. But bullies tend to prey on silent victims,” she said. One way to stop them is to look them in the eye and say “Thank you. I didn’t ask for your opinion.”  A proper leader should make sure that employees feel comfortable in their workplace by setting a tone of positive morale, camaraderie, and respect, she said.


Christiane Spitzmueller of the University of Houston was part of the team commissioned by Houstonia Magazine to oversee the publication’s Best Places to Work survey. The results concluded there’s never been a better time to be gainfully employed in Houston, where the top companies are hard at work attracting and keeping the best and brightest. What all the winners had in common was the fact that they listen to their employees and respond to their changing needs. For example, workers want more time off to travel and take care of their families,” Spitzmueller said. “Fifteen years ago that wasn’t much of a priority.”


Business Law Daily reported on an October 13 meeting about the implications big data has for equal employment opportunities and quoted Kathleen Lundquist of SPT Metrics and Eric Dunleavy of DCI Consulting. “Big data, predictive analytics, or talent analytics are terms used to describe the harvesting of a wide range of empirical data for HR decision making and are the inevitable future of HR. It presents a future that is both promising and scary,” she said.  Dunleavy noted “The question of whether employers can leverage contemporary big data for employment decision making has been answered in the affirmative. Whether employers should do so and how to go about it in their particular situation, are separate questions.”


A September 28 NPR program had a story about performance reviews that quoted SIOP members Gerald Ledford of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina. Organizations are taking a hard look at performance reviews, doing away with grading systems, in favor of a process that focuses on actual performance. Ledford said the vast majority of companies that no longer rank their employees replaced the rankings with more frequent, less formal evaluations. If employees are meeting regularly with supervisors the meetings tend to be less threatening. However giving more feedback comes with challenges: it demands more time of managers, he said. Staats advocated businesses collecting data that looks at a worker’s process rather than just outcomes. “The end-of-project success or failure is an incomplete view. We need to know if it failed why did it fail. We need to know what was the learning that came out of it that might be useful.” Even if a performance evaluation is effective, it is unlikely to ever be popular with everyone. It is, after all, an evaluation, he said.


As business becomes more competitive, HR professionals must become more adept at workforce analytics to connect human capital and performance within their organizations was the focus of a September 27 SHRM article that quoted Mark Huselid of Northeastern University and Alexis Fink of Intel. The old workforce measurements may not create wealth for businesses in today’s environment, Huselid said. “The things that helped us win before won’t necessarily help us win in the future.” He warned it’s easy to become overwhelmed with data collection. More data are not always a good thing. The key is to ask the right questions. In starting a metrics initiative, focus on what problem you are trying to solve, he advised. Fink agreed. “What matter is really finding value, finding things that are really going to make a difference to your organization,” she said. She listed seven key steps to data success, including asking the right questions, identifying the right method to answer the question, generate data to answer the question, analyze the data, develop insights based upon the data, take action based upon those insights and measure the results to determine in the actions taken were effective.


The September 16 issue of Human Resource Executive had an article entitled “Weeding Out Psychopaths,” that included comments from Paul Babiak of HR Back Office in Hopewell Junction, NY and William Spangler of Binghamton University. It is crucial for HR to limit the damage psychopathic employees can cause to the organization and other employees by keeping psychopaths out of their workplaces by utilizing careful hiring procedures, the magazine noted. What sets a psychopathic leader apart is the way in which he or she manages or interacts with other people, said Spangler. “Psychopathic leaders are toxic individuals who manage subordinates with a combination of fear, threats, punishment, and public humiliation,” he added. “They present a positive persona to their superiors and are often promoted for what is perceived to be their effectiveness, but they can cause great harm to the organization by destroying relationships, damaging work units, and putting the entire company at risk for legal action,” said Spangler, who is in the process of developing a content-analysis program that measures psychopathic and narcissistic traits in business leaders. Babiak said psychopaths are increasingly common in business because they are attracted to the “pace and volatility of today’s hypercompetitive workplaces. There are helpful tools that can be used to assess a candidate’s suitability for a job and Babiak says HR must “dig deep” into the data contained in the resume and application and be diligent about “checking details independent from the references offered.”


In a September 15 Harvard Business Review article, Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of Hogan Assessment Systems wrote how a CEO’s personality can undermine succession planning. Some organizational leaders, they said, refuse to discuss their plans to retire and go about their business as if they will remain in their role until the end of time. Regardless of the reason for leaders’ hesitancy to designate a successor, organizations need to have iron-clad and exception-free succession policies for all senior executives, they argue. They identified some scenarios in which about-to-retire leaders, because of their personalities, do not endorse a succession plan, including not having a plan at all. Others are just going through the motions of designating a successor, designating the wrong successor, and undermining or discrediting the successor. Knowing the particular personality traits that may be driving destructive behavior can help both the departing C-suite leader and the members of the board to find a happy solution both for the executive and the company he or she is leaving, the authors concluded.


Martin Lanik of Pinsight, a leadership development firm in Denver, and Sandy Fiaschetti of Magnet Consulting in Rochester Hills (MI) were quoted in a September 1 Crain’s Detroit Business story about growing leadership teams and developing a training model that measures executives’ readiness for a particular position. “We have industrial psychologists who monitor participants’ responses to determine if they are up to the job and, if so, what specific areas they need to strengthen,” he said. Fiaschetti said it was important for organizations engage as many employees as possible. Companies that don’t engage employees often results from a manager focusing too narrowly on what the company does and unconsciously viewing leadership training as an afterthought. “Business people can make the mistake of thinking just because they are heading up a business they can effectively oversee leadership training. But it’s actually a very different skill set. “There’s a necessary shift that needs to happen from being a doer to being a leader,” she said.


A September 1 Harvard Business Review article asked “Why are some whistleblowers vilified and others celebrated?”  David Mayer of the University of Michigan authored a reply based upon research he conducted with Ned Wellman of Arizona State University. Maddy Ong and Scott DeRue of the University of Michigan. In three separate studies they found that formal leaders were more accepted as whistleblowers than lower level workers, who were viewed less positively and were more likely to be targets of social sanctions. “People tend to denigrate peers for speaking up because it is not viewed as their place, but they celebrate leaders who do so because they expect them to be the moral voice of organizations,” Mayer wrote. An important implication of the research is that leaders have a critical responsibility both to speak up and to create a culture where employees are accountable to one another and the organization to report any wrongdoing.


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 Rd., Suite 101, Bowling Green, OH 43402.

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