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Local I-O Groups’ Great Hits

Anna Erickson, SHL; Ginger Whelan, Whelan & Associates; Donna Sylvan, Sylvan & Associates; Brooke Allison, TIAA; Peter Scontrino, Scontrino-Powell; and Naz Tadjbakhsh, Alliant International University

It’s that time of year again.  Soon thousands of I-O psychologists will be descending upon the National Harbor to exchange knowledge, ideas, and learnings.  As the conference approaches, we are inspired by the theme “I am SIOP” that Talya Bauer championed throughout her term as SIOP president.  And, inspired by this vision, many SIOP members will choose to continue that energy once they return home through participation in a local I-O group.  Local I-O Groups throughout the country (and around the world) are living proof of the “I am SIOP” vision as they extend the learning, networking, and sharing into local communities. 

Over the past few years, the Local I-O Group Committee has encouraged those wanting to continue that journey in providing advice, support, and tools to those wanting to start or maintain a local group. Let’s be honest:  Starting up can be tough.  Finding a convenient time and place to meet is a challenging first priority.  But once that’s settled, the longer term and ongoing question always circles back to speakers, presentations, and topics.  This is a challenge for new as well as mature groups.

We’ve got your back.

We have assembled here some “greatest hits” of the Local I-O Group play list—some ideas from around the country – sources of speakers and topic ideas – that will help move you to get started in the right direction or move your existing group to a new level.

Tapping Local Talent

Chances are there are experts right in your own backyard, and that’s often a great place to start your recruiting.  Local universities and consulting firms are, of course, a great place to start. Tapping Local Talent

  • The North Carolina Industrial and Organizational Psychologists (NCIOP; recruited Dr. Steven Rogelberg, Chancellor’s Professor at UNC Charlotte, to present on a topic he knows best: facilitating effective meetings.  Dr. Rogelberg, author of the book The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance, has well over 100 publications and recently won the highly prestigious Humboldt Award for his research on meeting science.  He led the group through key learnings on how meeting effectiveness is systematically studied and implemented in organizations in a highly interactive and engaging presentation. 
  • Behavioral interviewing expert Paul Green facilitated a three-hour continuing education workshop for members of the Georgia Association for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (GAIOP;  Behavior-Based Interviewing: Where We Are, and Where We Are Going.  Dr. Green discussed interviewer resistance to structure and ineffective scoring which can undermine the usefulness of behavioral interviewing techniques.  The workshop provided an overview of the foundation and core concepts of behavior-based interviewing, and an innovative approach to interview training and scoring.
  • Minnesota has its share of thought leaders as well who provide great insights and thought leadership when they present at Minnesota Professionals for Psychology Applied to Work (MPPAW; meetings.  In February, MPPAW members learned about the latest research in gamification and game-based assessment from Richard Landers, associate professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota and John P. Campbell Distinguished Professorship of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. In April, MPPAW will welcome professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota and SIOP Fellow Deniz Ones who will share her insights on the Next Generation of Measurement.
  • The Memphis I-O Psychologists (MIOP; welcomed its own local rock star, Kurt Kraiger, former SIOP President, professor and chair of the Department of Management, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, University of Memphis.  Dr. Kraiger gave an engaging presentation on the what, why and how of mentoring titled “I’ve committed to mentoring someone. Now what do I do?”

Local business leaders are another great source of expertise as are practitioners working within local companies. They are often great at conveying practical insights and experience based learnings.

  • The Memphis I-O Psychologists (MIOP; learned about Workforce Planning from Marta Brown, managing director FedEx Freight.  Dr. Brown also discussed how to position a team for success during an organizational expansion.  She reviewed how to assess the current employee mix, movement trends, and forecasting models.
  • MIOP also hosted a meeting focusing on an Executive View of I-O featuring three local vice presidents of HR (from FedEx, First Tennessee, Service Master) who spoke about how they partner with internal and external I-O psychologists to achieve their objectives. Presenters were given questions ahead of time and fielded questions during the meeting.  The session was organized by Jerilyn Hayward, hosted at ServiceMaster, and was the most attended meeting for the group.
  • MPPAW members learned about the impact of I-O on the world of Diversity and Inclusion during a panel discussion from Doug Molitor (manager, HR Compliance and Talent Assessment at 3M Company), Andre Hennig (senior talent management consultant at Target), and Kyle Lundby (principal at Global Aspect Human Capital Advisors). During this interactive session, Mikel Marzofka (industrial and organizational consultant and student at the University of Wisconsin–Stout) facilitated a panel-style discussion of the role of I-O practitioners in diversity and inclusion.  The panelists shared how they became involved in work in the diversity and inclusion and what that work looks like as an I-O practitioner. They also included advice about how I-Os who are passionate about diversity and inclusion issues can get involved as well as how the I-O field can better support diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • Kansas City Organizational Development Network (KCODN) hosted Catherine Stewart (director, Talent, Culture, & Organizational Development at H&R Block) who shared her expertise in Setting Up Shop: The OE/OD Team as a Service Provider.  For those curious to know how the OE/OD team’s structure and services compare to others, Catherine shared what she had learned about other OE/OD shops in the KC area. She also described how H&R Block’s OE team is organized, talked briefly about a few of their key programs and services, shared how the team works with HR business partners, and showed how they report against their four disciplines at year end.
  • In Los Angeles, The Practitioner Lab has hosted events with numerous business and thought leaders in order to meet the localized needs of its practitioners. The Practitioner Lab, co-led by Melissa Steach (Human Factors & Ergonomics Specialist at Herman Miller) and Naz Tadjbakhsh (Learning & Organization Development at The Walt Disney Company) is a grassroots community of practice with members who share an interest in promoting the science and practice of psychology to the world of work and organizations in order to enhance the ways people experience work. They do this by discussing best practices and actionable insights to drive positive change in organizations. The Practitioner Lab has hosted events with thought leaders such as Dr. Pauline Arneberg, organization change and appreciative inquiry expert, Philip Horváth, future-ready leadership and innovation consultant, and Alicia Dunams, international leadership trainer and author of I Get To: How Using the Right Words Can Radically Transform Your Life, Relationships & Business.

Learning From One Another

A number of local groups host collaborative learning events in which members share and discuss learnings from conferences they’ve attended or projects they’ve undertaken.  Although these sessions are also “tapping local talent,” they’re included here because of the less formal, more discussion based format.

  • After participating in the 2015 LEC Symposium, Peter Scontrino (senior consultant at Scontrino-Powell) summarized the high points and detailed notes from the symposium for fellow members of Puget Sound Association of I-O Psychology.  As part of his presentation, he summarized four different case studies, presented lessons learned, and identified best practices in this rapidly evolving area.
  • Similarly, Bobby Bullock (research scientist at Amazon Web Services) facilitated a discussion among workshop participants who had attended the 2015 SIOP Annual Convention.  Each participant shared four or five takeaways that they had from the Annual Convention with fellow members of the Puget Sound Association of I-O Psychology.
  • GAIOP sponsored a Best of SIOP 2018 panel facilitated by Randall Lucius (director, Organizational Development, Emory University).  Panelists included Dr. Lucius, Michele Ingram Mobley (psychologist at Management Psychology Group), Sarah Carr Evans (Principal at Leadership Insights), Amber Fritsch (senior employee & engagement consultant at SunTrust), and James Illingworth (director of Talent Solutions at Geode People) who shared highlights from presentations given at the SIOP Conference and discuss implications for teaching and/or practice, with audience participation encouraged throughout.
  • Ginger Whelan (president at Whelan & Associates, LLC) and Laura Hehn (senior director, Talent Development and Analytics at ServiceMaster) led the Memphis I-O Psychologists (MIOP) in a game of I-O Jeopardy.  In this interactive local group session, members were divided into two teams and played a version of Jeopardy.  A game board featured fun I-O topics like “Validity Generalization.”
  • Recognizing the importance of networking and community, MPPAW has created a leadership function specifically to facilitate networking events (you know…happy hours and parties and such). MPPAW members Christina Honsa (Consultant at Colihan Consulting) and Mikel Marzofka are currently serving as Member Engagement Officers and are tasked with planning  and executing various social events for members outside of monthly meetings.  They also build relationships with local nonprofit organizations in order to cultivate volunteer opportunities for members.

Bringing in the Big Guns

Recruiting out of town presenters can be tricky.  Most local groups have limited budgets, so are unable to offer stipends or expense reimbursements for out of town presenters.  However, some groups have gotten creative by offering to pay travel for one speaker per year, partnering with other organizations (such as local universities) to share the costs, or finding a time when the specific speaker will be passing through on business or personal travel.  Many consultants and researchers will be happy to share their ideas and knowledge, especially if they’re presenting on a topic they’ve presented before.  Here are a few examples.

  • Last summer, Meredith Thompson presented at the Portland Industrial & Organizational Psychology Association on the topic of Ostracism’s Heavy Toll: Emotional Exhaustion at Work and at Home.  Meredith’s presentation focused on how workplace ostracism may cross over to affect not only the employee but also the employee’s family.  This presentation was sponsored by the E. Sullivan Speaker Series in Psychology/ Industrial-Organizational Psychology Research Colloquium.
  • MPPAW partners with the I-O program at Minnesota State University at Mankato to offer limited funding to bring in one out of town speaker per year.  This year’s guest speaker was Alan Colquitt who provided his vision for the next generation of performance management in his presentation “Performance Management: Current State, Future State,” based on the research he did for his book Next Generation Performance Management: The Triumph of Science Over Myth and Superstition.  Attendees learned about the limitations of current performance management practices, the trends that make those processes ineffective, and new directions in evidence based performance management processes.
  • The Georgia Association for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (GAIOP; helped cover travel expenses for Toni Locklear (VP & litigation practice leader, APTMetrics) and Katey Foster (director & litigation associate practice leader) to discuss how the legal landscape around employment decisions continues to evolve. Their presentation, Employment Decisions–The Current Legal and Ethical Landscape, provided an update on those changes with significant implications for HR practices and included discussion of recent court cases, new and updated employment regulations, and the current priorities of regulatory agencies.  The session also included discussion of best practices in the development and validation of procedures for making legally defensible employment decisions.

Still Hungry for More?

This article provides just a taste of the fabulous meeting topics and intriguing presenters that local groups are hosting around the country.  There’s so, SO much more.  We’ve barely scratched the surface.  For example, we haven’t even mentioned the special programs hosted by local groups, such as the MPPAW’s mentoring program, the annual career day hosted by the New York Metropolitan Association of Applied Psychology (METRO;, or the way GAIOP partners with SIOP to offer continuing education credits for the workshops they offer. 

If we’ve piqued your interest and you’re ready to learn more, here are some additional resources.

  • Check out events near you or across the country by referencing the events calendar: There is an event calendar that lists local events in your area:
  • Reach out to other local groups.  You can find a list of local groups along with contact names and websites here:
  • Visit our booth at the SIOP conference.  The Local I-O Groups Relations Committee will be staffing a booth in the committee zone at the SIOP on Thursday, noon–2:00, and on Friday, 12:30–2:30.  We will have various resources available for those who are interested in starting, maintaining, or invigorating their own local group.
  • Also at the SIOP Conference: Learn, share, and brainstorm with other local group leaders during our Local I-O Group Incubator Session on Friday, April 5, at 4:00 in National Harbor 1.
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