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President's Message: Reflections on the Conference

Mort McPhail

As I write this column, I can’t help but remember our remarkable conference in Anaheim.  Perhaps we just absorbed the energy coming in waves from the cheerleader competition, but wherever it came from it was amazing.  A walk through the hotel lobby or down the corridors of the Conference Center never failed to find people by the dozens engaged in spirited conversation and sometimes deep discussions.  Maybe it’s like that every year, and I was just more attuned to it, but it seemed to reflect the vigor of our growing profession.  I want to offer my sincerest thanks to the Administrative Office staff for once again bringing us a flawless conference, including pristine weather ordered up especially for us – great work, Dave Nershi!  Special thanks go to Eden King (Conference Chair), Scott Tonidandel (Program Chair), and Emily Solberg (Workshop Chair) whose diligence and hard work paid off handsomely.  I also want to express my appreciation to the many (more than 1,000!) of you who served as reviewers for program submissions.  SIOP is truly a member-driven organization and our conference would suffer without your contributions and efforts.

But wait – there’s more!  Don’t forget that our next gathering is the 12th Annual Leading Edge Consortium (LEC) scheduled for October 21-22 at the InterContinental Buckhead in Atlanta, GA.  Alexis Fink and her committee have lined up a stellar cast of speakers to deal with the fascinating complexities of Big Data in a conference titled Talent Analytics: Data Science to Drive People Decisions and Business Impact.  You won’t want to miss this opportunity to catch the leading edge of where I think I-O science is going in the future – and maybe is getting there already.

Oh, yes, one more thing.  It’s not too early to start planning for the SIOP’s 32nd Annual Conference April 27-29 in beautiful Orlando, FL.  Several people asked me at the conference this year if we had made some nefarious deal with Disney to schedule back-to-back conferences in their backyards.  Well…it might have been a good idea, but no, that’s not the reason.  As it happens Starwood Hotels, which operates the Swan and Dolphin property at Disney World, made us a very beneficial offer to contract for both next year and 2018 (in Chicago), and our site selection chair and the Executive Board took advantage of it.  So we got a great deal to go great places for our Conference!  Start planning now.

I continue to be amazed at the number of people involved and the amount of work being accomplished behind the scenes for SIOP.  As I prepared for the Executive Board meeting on the Sunday after the conference, I found almost 60 pages of reports from committees, task forces, and other groups describing their work for the last year and their plans for the future.  I can’t begin to talk about everything that’s going on here, but at the risk of offending some really hard-working folks by leaving them out (just so you know, I appreciate all of you), I thought I might mention a few things that are happening. 

First, though, as an aside, I recently reviewed the initial results of a survey about volunteering at SIOP.  I noted that the second most frequently chosen reason for not volunteering at SIOP (after unavoidable time constraints) was “No one has asked me to volunteer recently.”  I just can’t let that go; please take this as your personal invitation to become involved in the work of SIOP!  There are many tasks that need doing, and you are invited to find your point of interest and contribution.  There are several ways to go about volunteering, but the easiest and quickest is to go to the “SIOP Volunteer System (SVS) Sign-Up Form” (search for “committee volunteers” in my.SIOP, and it will appear in the drop-down).  Here you can review information about the work of the various committees and indicate your interest in serving. 

So, here’s some of what’s been going on. I spoke with several people at the conference interested in building local I-O groups.   Thank goodness, the Local I-O Relations (Ad Hoc) Committee chaired by William Farmer has been busy this last year.  They have been working to improve communications on the web and through TiP, but in addition, they are developing a proposal for SIOP to partner with local I-O groups.  In the meantime they have developed a Toolkit for Local I-O Groups, which should help those new groups to get started. 

We have signed a contract with a new publisher for the Professional Practice Series: Oxford University Press; many thanks to Nancy Tippins (Chair of the PPS Editorial Board) and Deborah Rupp (Publications Officer).  While I’m speaking of Deborah, I want to applaud her success in managing and implementing the Corporate Social Responsibility Summit (funded by an NSF grant with SIOP as a subawardee), which was held at the Hilton just before our conference.  In addition, with Deborah’s leadership, we will initiate a new SIOP book series on Science, Translation, & Application dedicated to linking science and practice across disciplines and promoting evidence-based practice.  Moreover, John Scott (IOP Editor) and Mark Poteet (IOP Forum Editor) are initiating a new section in IOP – the Practitioner’s Forum with many exciting implications for sharing, discussing, and improving practice through a variety of formats.

At the EB meeting on Sunday, we considered and approved the new Guidelines for Education and Training in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  This was the culmination of more than 2 years of work by an Education and Training Committee subcommittee. Many thanks to subcommittee chair Stephanie Payne and E&T Chair Whitney Morgan.  The Guidelines have been sent to APA where they will go through APA’s process to become policy of the Association. 

While the E&T work reaches closure, the Task Force (Paul Sackett and Nancy Tippins, Co-chairs) on a revision to the Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures continues its work with a target of next year to complete their work.

The work of our Government Relations Advocacy Team (GREAT) continues with Jill Bradley-Geist as the new chair. Working with our consultants at Lewis-Burke, our reputation and contacts in government circles continue to expand.  Recently, through our membership in the Coalition for National Science Funding (facilitated by Lewis-Burke), Deb Majormade a very successful presentation of her work on factors affecting undergraduates’ persistence in STEM education and career pathways.  In addition, the work begun by the late Jim Outtz on the Policing Initiative (see the April TiParticle) will continue as we seek to find ways to bring our science and practice to bear on a significant national concern.  

Mark Poteet (outgoing Professional Practice Chair), Eric Dunleavy (CSR-EEOC Task Force Chair), and others had an opportunity to meet with EEOC Chair Jenny Yang, Richard Tonowski, and others of her senior staff in March to discuss ways that SIOP might be able to assist the Commission with a variety of topics.  The meeting was productive, and incoming Professional Practice Chair William Shepherd will continue to work with the Task Force to follow-up.

As part of Steve Kozlowski’ initiative to leverage self-organization in a multilevel approach to increasing SIOP’s impact, Chris Rotolo will serve as the “Coordinator-Broker” to facilitate the forming (really the self-forming) member groups with common interests.  Chris has a number of ideas and plans for approaching this task, but most of them depend on hearing from those who have the common interests and the energy to pursue them.  Get involved and find others who share your passion, and we will do what we can to help you get in communication and organized to have an impact.

At the closing plenary, I had the opportunity to talk about my goals for the coming year.  I know that it was at the end of a long day just before an evening of great partying, so I’m assuming that there was interference with long-term memory encoding.  So here they are again:

  • Celebrate what has been accomplished
  • Continue the work that is underway
  • Develop a method to scan the horizon for developing trends
  • Identify roadblocks to our preparation and adaptation

I’ve already begun work on the first one in this column by highlighting some of the great work that has been accomplished.  The work initiated by Steve Kozlowski and many others has been instrumental in building an infrastructure for advocacy.  We have completed work on an updated competency model for I-O education and training. 

I also described some of the work in progress, such as the Task Force on revising the Principles.  The Police Initiative is an ongoing advocacy project, and our efforts to work with EEOC will continue as well.  Initiatives to translate between science and practice such as the self-organization of members into communities of interest and advocacy and the new Practice Forum in IOP are underway.

Over the next weeks and months, I will be working with committee chairs and others on the Executive Board on the latter two goals to develop and formalize how we try to anticipate the future.  As a profession, I think we need an enduring method for scanning the horizon.  Such a mechanism would seek input from a wide-array of sources, including hearing from those doing cutting-edge research, asking those facing emerging issues, problems, and concerns in the workplace, reviewing both our own literature and that of our I-O colleagues around the world and in other sciences, and monitoring current and developing events.  This is a big job, and so far we do not have a comprehensive, cohesive, consistent, and intentional way to go about this scanning or organizing and using the information we obtain.  As SIOP works to prepare for and meet the changes ahead, there will undoubtedly be challenges.  I believe we are up to this task of preparing for the future.  This profession is vital and energetic and continuously self-renewing.  Our science and its application has shown itself to be renewably relevant and consistently innovative.  We will be ready for tomorrow – we’ve already started to prepare; we will continue our work, and we will watch for what may come our way – both challenges and opportunities. 

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