Ask Amy, an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Practitioner: Part II

In part two of this three-part “Ask an I-O” series, we’ve asked Amy Franke, one of our Talent Management Specialists, to weigh in on a variety of topics including an overview of I-O Psychology, improving employee retention, and the importance of using valid tools for employee selection. I-O Psychology is the science of human behavior in organizations, and psychologists and practitioners in the field conduct research in areas such as employee selection, engagement, motivation, and performance, and leverage that information to improve organizational effectiveness.

Amy received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola Chicago University and her Masters of Science in Personnel and Human Resource Development from the Illinois Institute of Technology. For over 12 years, Amy has worked in the HR and I-O fields, leveraging her knowledge and experience to help organizations thrive.

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To get things started, first, what is I-O Psychology?

Industrial-Organizational Psychology is the science and practice of building performance and not only successful organizations that reach their intended results, but also workplaces where people can thrive. The Industrial and Organizational sides are interconnected.  Industrial Psychology involves job design, employee selection (tools like assessments and interviews), succession planning, and performance management. Organizational Psychology looks at more of the day-to-day employee experience and includes topics like employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction, and development.

Is I-O Psychology similar to Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychologists specialize in treating and counseling individuals to address psychological disorders and problems, whereas Industrial-Organizational psychologists are not involved in the study or treatment of clinical disorders. I-O psychologists often work on a macro, or organizational level, to reduce job stress and improve well-being through organization-led action. However, some I-O psychologists work one-on-one through coaching and that focuses on tackling a person’s opportunities in ways to help them grow and thrive at work – which often helps them outside of work as well.

What is Employee Retention and why is it so important?

Employee retention is a measure of how well your organization is doing at earning the loyalty of employees and keeping them over time. It’s a critical measure of the health of your organization, but is also affected by  the economy. It’s important to look at both retention AND turnover.  They are not the same measure.  The longer your employees stay, in general, the greater contribution they will be able to make – and the more likely they can be promoted to more advanced roles functionally or within leadership.  You can measure retention by looking at tenure by position and/or job function, or even look at retention by demographics (age, gender, race, education level).  When coupled with turnover you have rich data to make decisions.

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There are so many popular tests you hear about these days, like the Myers Briggs (or MBTI).  Can I use that for employee selection?

A personality test should only be used for employee selection if there is documented evidence scores on the test are related to job performance. That means that the traits being measured should give us information about a candidate’s potential to perform specific job tasks. With the Myers Briggs, it’s often used without an understanding of how the traits are related to performance and its purpose is to build self-awareness: not for hiring an employee.

The test was not developed for selection, and there is not strong evidence that shows how people will perform in their job based on their Myers Briggs typology. If you’re looking for a personality test to use in hiring – you want to know that the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and traits required to complete the job you’re hiring for is linked to performance on the test.

Why is it important to have a validated selection tool? What is the benefit?

If a test is validated, it’s linked to performance on the job.  But the question is – for what?  A test could be validated but not for the knowledge, skills, or traits required for your positions. Knowing a test is validated is the first step: the second is asking more questions to see if and how it will be useful for the competencies and qualities required by your positions.

You also want to make sure, for hiring and selection, the tests are designed for that use.  Development tools and assessments can be validated – and you might be using some right now – but in that use case validated means using the assessment leads to documented and meaningful growth and development.  In hiring we want to know that candidates hired based on test results will perform, fit your culture, and stay.

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What is one piece of advice you would give to an organization looking to make a positive impact in their workforce?

First, what are your intended results and the stakeholder experiences (your customers/clients/patients – and also employees) you need to consistently execute to reach those results.  How well are you delivering on those experiences – and how can you quantify this consistently over time?

Our team looks at culture as your definition of success and how it is achieved.  We also know your customer (or other key stakeholder experience) will never be greater than your employee experience.  Knowing what knobs you can turn on the employee experience to build a remarkable customer experience moves you toward reaching your intended results.  This core to the art and practice of industrial-organizational psychology.

At Corvirtus, our team leverages the science of I-O psychology to help companies strengthen their cultures through hiring, developing and retaining remarkable people. We are committed to your organization’s growth and success. Start a conversation with our team of experts today.

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