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Looking Ahead



President Doug Reynolds Urges SIOP and its Members to Extend the Influence of I-O

As he turned over the presidency to Tammy Allen, Doug Reynolds outlined several challenges facing SIOP and its members.

Addressing attendees to the 28th SIOP Annual Conference in Houston last week, Reynolds, who served as president during the 2012-13 year, said it was important for SIOP members to extend their influence.

“It stems from our interest in applied science. We like to see our work make a difference, and we get frustrated when policies and practices are set without any consideration for what really works,” he said.

With that he outlined three challenges for I-O and SIOP. The first focuses on how I-O psychologists should brand themselves as a Society and as a profession. The second step is to engage our partners, and the third is for individual SIOP members to take advantage of opportunities facing the field.

A Branding Task Force, under the leadership of Chris Rotolo, has been hard at work, and SIOP members will be seeing results over the next year, he said, calling attention to a poster outside the ballroom that described in detail the branding project. There is also a link (http://www.siop.org/branding/) to a site that will be updated as the project moves forward.

He described branding as three activities: (a) declaring who you are and what you stand for; (b) representing that identify in a visible manner in a variety of ways, including logos, taglines and social media; and (c) continually focusing on clearly defining target audiences.

He showed SIOP’s current logo, tagline, and website and said “while we see ourselves in these symbols, they don’t communicate well to those outside our field.”

“If we want to extend our influence to key audiences, we will need to understand their perspectives and present ourselves in a manner they are prepared to understand,” he explained.

Acknowledging that any conversation about how to represent SIOP tends to generate disagreements about what part of the field to reflect, Reynolds noted that a dilemma exists between science on one end of a continuum and practice on the other end.

If our brand is on the science end of the continuum, “we could end up sounding a lot like the Academy of Management. On the other hand if we push too far to the other end, we begin to look like a part of SHRM.”

Quoting a colleague he said the solution is “we need to realize that SIOP is about scientists who care about practice and practitioners who care about science.”

The point is that these dichotomies don’t matter very much if our goal is to extend our influence to audiences who do not know us, he added.

Reynolds urged members to “not get bound up in what do and where we do it,” bur rather look at the larger picture of what I-O can accomplish and how it can benefit others.

There is work to be done, he noted, referring to studies by the Branding Task Force finding that only about one in five of the people in the groups we think should know us actually do.

He said SIOP needs to refine its brand so others can see what we stand for more readily.

The second challenge SIOP needs to face, he said, is about engaging partners. In the past decade, SIOP has built many formal partnerships with other organizations, including FABBS, a coalition of sciences that advocates for science funding at the federal level, and ASPPB, a key partner helping SIOP navigate licensure issues and to ensure state regulations make sense for I-O psychologists.

As a result of Jacqueline Berrien, chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, being a guest speaker at last year’s conference, SIOP has begun a dialogue with EEOC about contemporary selection practices, and there is a group discussing advancements in adverse impact measurement and the transportation of validity evidence.

Reynolds noted that SIOP members have met with science advocacy experts in Washington to discuss how I-O psychologists might do more to advocate for their field.

“While it is very tempting to show off what you do and the results you have generated, those tactics don’t typically draw more than Capitol Hill interns who come for the free food.”

“Rather, we need to identify our allies, what they are trying to accomplish and how we can use our science and skills to help them. We have a point of view on critical issues of broad interest; we just need to let the right people know we can help them.”

To further this initiative, Reynolds said SIOP’s External Relations Committee has been asked to develop plans for each of our partnerships so we can be focused in our efforts. “We are also appointing a new advocacy team and looking into hiring a D.C.-based advocacy partner to help us navigate to the places where we have greater influence.”

In addition to the things SIOP is doing to extend its influence, Reynolds said there are steps individual I-O psychologists can take to take advantage of new opportunities available to the field. “We all need to find ways to make our field bigger by expanding what we consider to be the domain of our field.”

One example he cited is Big Data. “It has been covered extensively in the business press….and there is significant opportunity there that we need to get in front of, before we get behind on Big Data.”

Organizations around the world are collecting massive amounts of data on their customers, products, and processes and are figuring out how to put it to work. Although economists and mathematicians and statisticians can do the numbers and track trends, I-O psychologists bring something more important to the table: They have the training to analyze and model complex relationships, think critically about human behavior, build and test theories, and communicate the findings clearly so action can be taken.

“There is something for all of us in this trend,” said Reynolds. “Think about how you can promote what you do in the context of Big Data. Executives are listening and trying to determine how to best use the massive amounts of available data. We can play a vital role. Don’t dismiss the opportunity as a fad. Figure out how to make it part of your research and practice,” he added.

A second opportunity for SIOP members lies with an emerging emphasis on prosocial application of I-O psychology. Although approximately 25% of I-Os are actively engaged in projects where they are applying their skills and knowledge to charitable causes, more can be done, Reynolds said.

As an example, he cited the Military Transition Project, which is helping translate military skills into civilian language and partnering with two veterans’ organizations to assist veterans transitioning to the workplace. Many SIOP volunteers are helping with this effort.

The opportunity is not only to support such programs but also to initiate others like them. These projects are already happening but not many people know about them.

He asked SIOP members involved in prosocial projects to consider sharing the details and inviting others to assist.

To facilitate this, Reynolds announced that SIOP will be launching a new component to its website enabling people to describe active projects and providing information about others.

“So, if you want to see the work of I-O publicized more broadly, prosocial work is an easy path to make that happen,” he said.

In summary, he said, “If we are serious about expanding our influence, we each need to consider how these challenges apply to our personal situations. We need to think about how we represent ourselves to others and develop a common brand.

“We need to worry less about having people recognize us for the value we think we bring and instead find out more about who our partners might be and how we can best help them achieve their goals with our expertise,” he said.