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Spotlight on Local I-O Organizations

Michelle A. Donovan
Intel Corporation


In this Spotlight column we focus on a rare and elusive group of talented I-O psychologists the North Carolina I-O Psychologists (NCIOY to those in the know!). Their article below is filled with information about their origin, behavior patterns, and survival strategiesand, lucky for us, it doesnt look like theyll go extinct any time soon. Read on for more details

NCIOY Celebrates 10 Years of Survival

Lori Foster Thompson
North Carolina State University

David C. Gilmore
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

John G. Cope
East Carolina University

They hail from the mountains of North Carolina to the beaches of the coast (and everywhere in between). Its been said that some even dwell in other states. Their seasonal movement patterns are fairly predictable. Known to travel both singularly and in pods, they migrate to a common location during the spring and fall of each year. If you pay close attention, you will likely spot some of them the next time you attend a SIOP conference. Though not aggressive, they are not shy either. Dont be surprised if one approaches you. 

Naturally, were referring to that distinct life form known as the North Carolina I-O (NCIO) psychologist [genus: Officium scientia professio]. Youll undoubtedly want a little more information in order to prepare for a chance encounter, should an NCIO psychologist ever happen to cross your path. Have no fear! As full-fledged members of this group, were here to pass along everything you need to know about the North Carolina I-O Psychology (NCIOY) association. Read on for details concerning how we came to be, what our meetings typically entail, the challenges we face, and more.



The Origin of the Species

NCIOY began 10 years ago. Members of SIOP had the inspiration for a local group and served as the catalyst for the early organizing efforts by inviting the 121 SIOP members of North Carolina to meet at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) to discuss organizational issues. Approximately 60 people attended this meeting, which occurred on October 28, 1994. Like all good I-O psychologists would do, the group began by detailing some general guidelines regarding the operation and characteristics of the organization (NCIOY Takes Off, 1995). By November 18, 1994, NCIOY had its mission statement in place. And thus, we were created (even though it took more than 7 days).

The Seasonal Meeting Behaviors of the NCIO Psychologist

NCIOY typically holds two meetings per yearone in the fall and one in the springwith recent headcounts ranging from about 50 to 70 persons per meeting. Attendees include academicians, practitioners, students, and other interested individuals from North Carolina and beyond (our sign-in rosters indicate migratory behavior from South Carolina and Virginia). NCIOYs semiannual gatherings usually run from 93 and always take place on a Friday. Business casual attire is the norm, and the atmosphere is open, friendly, and relaxed. 

In terms of content, the meeting topics remain quite diverse. In the past, the NCIOY association has enjoyed presentations on a wide range of subjects, including personality, executive coaching, meeting burnout, and goal settingjust to name a few. Both in-state and out-of-state presenters have contributed to the richness of the program. Out-of-town speakers typically fly in a day early, which gives nearby NCIOY members a chance to take them to dinner the evening before the meeting. Its more fun than a SIOP or AoM presentation, remarked Art Gutman from the Florida Institute of Technology, who spoke to the group on legal issues. Those (SIOP, AoM) are wonderful experiences, but youre in and out, have some nice interactions, and its over. The NCIOY experience encompassed 24 hours of great almost nonstop interactions. And the time went by so quickly because our conversations were so enjoyable.

Our Darwinian readers may be interested to know that NCIOYs meeting structure has evolved with time. Over the years, weve tested a variety of formats, including panel discussions, breakout interest groups, and the like. Trying to build a whole meeting around a theme and getting bottom up participation has proven difficult to coordinate given our loose organizational structure. Recently, NCIOY has opted to schedule two speakers per session, and this format seems to work well. Preceded by a coffee/social hour, the morning presentation begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by time for questions and answers, a brief business meeting, lunch, and then an afternoon presentation.

The benefits of attending are many. Members get to see a quality program, network, and meet people in practice, from academia, and of national prominence. NCIOY meetings not only promote intrastate collaborations and provide opportunities to stay abreast of current changes in the field, but they also offer a really fun way to spend a Friday. I laughed my butt off, remarked one graduate student after listening to Paul Muchinsky from UNCGreensboro speak about the identity of I-O psychology as a profession. The meetings have even been known to bring colocated colleagues closer together. Think about it, how many times do you get the chance to take a road trip with your coworker down the hall? If you live in North Carolina, this happens twice a year, thereby providing a nice opportunity to connect with colleagues interested in carpooling. 

The feeding habits and grazing range of the NCIOY psychologist are worth mentioning. An on-site lunch (e.g., pizza and veggies) is included with the registration fee collected from each attendee at the beginning of every meeting (fees are $15 for students and $25 for professionals). The on-site aspect of this lunch is important for a couple of reasons. First, some of us NCIO psychologists are creatures of habit. If you let us loose for lunch, we wind up hopping in a car with coworkers and close contacts. Keep us on site and were much more likely to mingle, meet new folks, and expand our network of friends and colleagues. Second, on-site lunches give NCIOY members the opportunity for informal conversation with the meeting speakers, who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our group. 

Those who are unable to attend a given meeting can read a recap of it later. Our newsletter, The NCIOY Flyer, provides summaries of past meetings, dates and agendas for future meetings, interviews with NCIOY members, and more. The NCIOY Flyer comes out at least twice a year and is archived on our Web site (http://www.ncsu.edu/psychology/graduate/conc/iov/organizations/ncio/index.htm). Thanks to Bob Pond from North Carolina State University, the Web site includes a number of other nifty features as well, such as member names and e-mail addresses, operating rules/procedures, and slides from past speakers presentations. For example, from the above link youll find the citizenship performance slides that Wally Borman (PDRI, University of South Florida) presented when he came to visit.

Environmental Challenges and Survival Strategies 

NCIOY faces a number of the same challenges many other local I-O organizations encounter. For instance, maintaining momentum and developing a leadership core without burning out key players is always a concern, given the voluntary nature of the organization. NCIOYs executive committee consists of several elected positions currently filled by the following individuals: Chair, David Gilmore; Vice/Program Chair, Lori Foster Thompson; Secretary/Newsletter/Historian, Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor; Finance/Membership, Anita Blanchard; Student Representative, Elizabeth Caldwell; Member at Large, Dennis Whittaker; and Web Manager, Bob Pond. In addition, several past executive committee members remain actively involved in the leadership, and each school elects a secondary student representative to help insure a strong student voice and serve as a point of contact for the various academic institutions represented in NCIOY

To help keep the executive committee positions staffed, every effort is made to minimize the time demands placed on the NCIOY leadership. For example, rather than requiring an organizational leader to track people down for dues, we just get dues from those that show up at each meeting. With electronic membership and mailings, our overhead costs are minimal. Thus, all we have to do is generate enough money at the meetings to cover the meeting costs (i.e., food, travel for speakers, and the like).

Asking people to fill an executive committee position with no specific responsibilities (Member-at-Large) is a nice way to get their foot in the door for future roles (yes, we are sneaky that way). We also manage to encourage volunteerism (that is, rope people into NCIOY leadership) via a strategic planning retreat, which is held each summer. All are welcome to participate, but typically only a handful of members (including some first-time retreat attendees) are able to make the journey. We meet on a lake, have a nice meal, throw in a boat ride or two, and do a little planning for the group. This gives newcomers a chance to provide input and see what fun NCIOY leadership can be, thereby encouraging them to replace departing executive committee members. 

The University of Torontos Gary Latham, who spoke at an NCIOY meeting a few years ago, has described us as an enthusiastic group who embraces the scientistpractitioner model of I-O psychology, particularly practitioner research conducted within a scientific framework that supports this model. Indeed, we strive to maintain a good balance between the academic and the practical. However, this is often a challenge for us. At times we have walked a fine line between becoming too academic and perhaps even too student oriented, if there is such a thing. Attracting the practitioners/consultants and keeping our focus on professional issues (not finding a job or simply networking) are important if we are to continue to attract the SIOP-type audience, just at a local level.

There are also logistical issues to contend with. North Carolina is by no means a small state. It covers a grand total of more than 53,000 square miles. Industry is scattered about, and we have graduate I-O programs ranging from the west (Appalachian State University in Boone) to the east (East Carolina University in Greenville). Thus, certain meeting locations spell lengthy commutes for members located in particular parts of North Carolina. Mindful of this issue, we pay careful attention to the timing and placement of our meetings. With a central location, a 10 a.m. start, and a 3 p.m. conclusion, people can generally get there, be home by evening, and still enjoy a high quality program. 

Past meeting locations have included universities such as UNC Greensboro and North Carolina State University. Lately, most meetings have occurred at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro. The facilities are out of this world, and CCL provides the space and support free of charge. Notably, individual CCL members not only attend the meetings, but they've also been known to donate their time by serving as speakers and NCIOY leaders. We NCIO psychologists consider ourselves very lucky to have such generous neighbors within our very own state borders! 

As you may have guessed by now, a final challenge facing our organization involves the whole Y symbol. Now, heres an itch we just havent been able to scratch. For starters, the Y symbol seems to cause uncertainty when determining how to voice our identity. Ask three different members what were called, and you may get three different answers: N-C-I-O-Psi, N-C-I-O-P, or simply N-C-I-O. And have you ever tried to insert a Greek symbol into the subject line of an e-mail message? Its no mean feat. A word to the wise: sporting a cool Greek symbol in your acronym has its price.

A Comfortable Habitat in Which to Dwell

Happily, NCIOY continues to thrive, and we sense no imminent danger of extinction. After presenting his work on organizational surveys to the group last April, Baruch Colleges Allen Kraut called us a wonderfully refreshing and diverse group, ranging from eager graduate students to experienced old salts who remain eager. And he continued, the southern hospitality is real and welcoming. Steven Rogelberg, who recently spoke to the group after moving to the state to head UNC Charlottes I-O psychology program agreed: I was extremely impressed with NCIOY. It is a vibrant group, the meetings are well attended, and the semiannual program is first rate. I-O psychologists in North Carolina are extremely fortunate!

So there you have it: a brief primer to fall back on should you ever encounter an NCIO psychologist in the course of your travels. And if your travels happen to lead you to North Carolina during one of our meetings, come and join us! Visitors are most welcome, and we promise not to bite.

References

NCIOY takes off. (1995, January). The Flyer, 1(1), 1.

Future Spotlights on Local Organizations

Stay tuned for the January issue of TIP when we profile the Portland Industrial & Organizational Psychology Association (PIOPA). PIOPA is a fun group of I-O psychologists who are eager to share more about their organization with TIP readers. 

To learn more about local I-O organizations, see http://www.siop.org/IOGroups.aspx for a list of Web sites. If you have questions about this article or are interested in including your local I-O psychology group in a future Spotlight column, please e-mail Michelle Donovan at michelle.a.donovan@intel.com.


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