3 Ways Industrial-Organizational Psychologists Shape The Future of Work
3 Ways Industrial-Organizational Psychologists Shape The Future of Work

How I-O / Occupational Psychologists play a key role in helping organizations identify, develop and place effective leaders.

Earlier this year at the 2019 Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) annual conference in the US, SHL made a provocative statement: The future of work is now. Cynics among us might see this as merely a slogan, and of course, this concept means different things to different people.

We were invited to join a panel discussion at SIOP to discuss the challenges and successes of executive assessment in today’s work environment. Reflecting on that experience, what resonated for us was the impact we can have as Industrial-Organizational (I-O) psychologists in shaping the future of work, and the positive effects our efforts can yield for the people, leaders and organizations with which we work.

In the context of helping businesses identify, develop and place effective leaders, there are three important ways that I-O psychologists contribute our professional expertise to help organizations win:

Understanding the Context – and Challenges

The first way that we help is by establishing an objective approach to understanding the business context in a way that allows for the optimal identification of talent to meet the demands of the situation. At the executive level, roles change rapidly and dramatically – especially in today’s more dynamic business environment, and today’s challenges will not be the same in one, three, or five years’ time.

The context of any given role today, with its specific challenges, makes each individual hiring decision significant and risky. Starting with a structured approach to understanding the situation allows for a clear analysis of the unique nuances of the context and challenges a future leader is likely to face in this type of role.

Assessing Talent Based on Context

From there, we use our industry-leading assessment capability to align the specific needs and requirements of the situation to assessment components that will identify the right fit to the right role. We are constantly innovating and evolving our assessments to enhance the candidate experience, improve prediction, and deliver results more quickly.

Well-designed, objective assessments enable us to identify leader fit-to-role and readiness to perform. Whereas fit generally reflects innate attributes individuals have that might make them successful in a given context, these individuals need to be ready to tackle the assignments in their position. As Industrial-Organizational Psychologists, we are uniquely positioned to be able to develop and deploy effective assessments to gauge both fit and readiness, drawing on the leading-edge research that our SHL colleagues have done into the critical contextual factors impacting success in leadership positions.

Interpreting Results and Providing Actionable Insight

Lastly, we are experienced in interpreting the results of assessments to guide strategic talent decision-making, prioritize leadership development interventions and guide strategic workforce planning. We are living in a digital age, with unlimited data and information at our fingertips. Capturing data and producing visuals is one thing; using this information with an individual’s career, and an organization’s reputation, on the line – to say nothing of the legal implications – is quite another. We as I-O Psychologists are optimally positioned to help organizations navigate the change inherent in the digital world, perhaps now more than ever. For example, one of the ways in which we accomplish this at SHL is by illustrating how an organization’s leadership potential aligns to the talent requirements inherent in their business strategy.

Investment in the recruitment process and visibility – and impact – of selection decisions at the executive level means that organizations must get them absolutely right or risk severe financial and performance downturns. Having an honest view of the challenges ahead, appropriately assessing candidates based on that context, and effectively interpreting the results in light of the situational demands can drive immediate positive business outcomes and set an organization on a trajectory toward long-term success.

The future of work is indeed now, and Industrial and Organizational Psychologists are actively helping to shape it in ways that are informed, equitable, and valuable. In fact, it was no surprise to us that Industrial Psychologist ranks high among the best science jobs in 2019. We and our colleagues at SHL are proud to play a key role in helping organizations imagine and create the future of work. 

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