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Go Team SIOP!


by Barbara Ruland, Communications Specialist

SIOP President Oswald’s Playbook to Leverage Member Strengths for Greater Influence

Over the course of his year leading the Society, SIOP President Fred Oswald seeks to strengthen member engagement by “identifying, communicating and taking better advantage of our diversity of backgrounds and experiences.”

He wants to leverage that diversity to broaden the reach and relevance of SIOP through strategic partnerships, both internal and external.

During his remarks at the 2017 SIOP Annual Conference closing plenary, President Oswald said, “Critically, SIOP needs to keep striving to promote, improve, and extend our partnerships with others outside the field.” 

After accepting the ceremonial gavel from outgoing president Mort McPhail, Oswald gave a succinct summary of four design considerations for his presidential theme of Team SIOP (along with some humorous alternative themes he claimed to have considered!). Overall, he wants the “Team SIOP” theme to be inclusive and provide continuity by “building on the past while generating new initiatives and efforts for the future.”

“By increasing SIOP member engagement, inclusion, and partnerships,” Oswald said, “SIOP can continue to strengthen its identity as well as its members' influence on society in their important roles as I-O psychologists.”

During his plenary address, Oswald cited two internal SIOP collaborations geared toward engaging members in new and interesting ways. 

First, The I-O Podcast, produced by Kelly Stewart and Drake Doumit as part of the Electronic Communications Committee, has released its first episode on professional networking with guests Eleni Lobene and Jane Sieving, and is actively seeking member input on future topics. 
Second, the Shaken and Stirred session at the annual conference posed the seemingly simple question of “What if...?” to fifteen handpicked thought leaders and mavericks within and outside I-O, and gave them just two minutes each to answer, with galvanizing results.  (Watch some of the presentations here.)

Oswald mentioned key external partnerships as an important part of the Team SIOP effort, such as the ongoing partnership between SIOP and SHRM that has resulted in several collaborative white papers and the creation of the HRM Impact Awards. Oswald wants to continue to support these and many other internal and external SIOP partnerships. He also wants to identify, promote, and learn from existing and ongoing partnerships between individual SIOP members. 

He cited several examples, including:

  • I-O practitioners collaborating internally with disciplines as wide-ranging as economics, sociology, operations research, and computer science (e.g., Rick Guzzo and his team at Mercer, who work on 'big data' projects; Evan Sinar at DDI who works in big data visualization with his marketing and strategy teams);
  • I-O consultants working with I-O academics to bring together complementary sets of expertise when developing and delivering performance assessments (e.g., Tony Boyce and colleagues at Aon Consulting; Andrea Sinclair and colleagues at HumRRO; both of whom develop innovative measurement tools with Richard Landers at Old Dominion University and other academics); and
  • Federal agencies bringing together I-O practitioners, academics, and a wide range of subject matter experts to the same table to address priorities of national importance, such as training, selection, diversity, and workplace safety (e.g., the National Academies has in the recent past invited SIOP members such as Wendy Becker at Shippensburg University; Jay Goodwin at Army Research Institute; Leaetta Hough of The Dunnette Group, Ltd.; Steve Kozlowski at Michigan State; past SIOP president Mort McPhail; and Bill Strickland at HumRRO).

Oswald concluded his address by noting his list is not systematic—and “that is exactly the point here.” In other words, Oswald believes that extending SIOP’s efforts into more intensive efforts to identify and leverage SIOP’s existing I-O talent, partnerships, and projects, could result in a huge benefit to SIOP, and to society as a whole.

The areas of technology and big data, which have repeatedly ranked in SIOP’s Top 10 Workplace Trends List, provide a ready example.

“So many people think that workforce science or people analytics are new ideas brought on by technology,” Oswald said. “Yet SIOP and I-O psychologists have been deeply involved in the science and practice tied to these domains for over a century. Tell your friends!”

He believes the expertise of I-O psychologists is more important in today's big data era, not less.
Oswald says I-Os can help organizations do the right thing while seeking competitive advantage, by helping them collect valid, relevant data and to interpret that data, “so that algorithms do not happen to become weapons of math destruction, to borrow the title of Cathy O’Neill’s new book.”

Leadership development is another area Oswald believes will benefit from an increased awareness of SIOP’s expertise. SIOP needs to help organizational leaders “become better decision-makers so that our expertise and good work becomes used and valued more often,” he said.

“The upcoming 2017 Leading Edge Consortium, chaired by Sandra Davis, promises to do just that,” he continued.  With its focus on improving the skills of executive coaches, this LEC can help attendees gain newfound skills and perspectives to take back to their organizations. The latest approaches, models, and interventions from top thinkers and practitioners in the field can help foster culture and growth for the organization as well as the attendees.

Oswald noted that work to strengthen Team SIOP is already underway in several areas:

  • SIOP’s online registries in health, safety, and well being, advocacy, and corporate social responsibility (forthcoming) help identify members with expertise in those areas.
  • The process for developing, submitting, and communicating the value of SIOP white papers and the collaborative SHRM-SIOP white papers is being streamlined.
  • SIOP’s new Executive Director, Jeff Hughes, has created a task planning tool for committee and staff use as part of efforts to facilitate communication among committee members, the Executive Board, and the Administrative Office staff.
  • And, the conference Theme Track Committee is brainstorming exciting topics and formats in support of the Team SIOP theme.

At the end of his address, President Oswald reiterated the value to the organization of working as a team.

“We increase our skills,” he said. “We increase our science and practice value to others. We increase our employability, whether you’re in practice or science and whether you are a Masters or a PhD student.” 

He concluded by calling on membership to “work together to vigorously seek out and highlight innovative and exciting forms of Team SIOP” – and to enjoy and appreciate the process of working together.