What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

Last night I met with a great group of students at NYU’s Graduate Program of I-O Psychology. They were a diverse bunch from different parts of the world and different stages of their careers, but all shared a passion for understanding the functions and dysfunctions of employees and the workforce in general. I discovered this academic specialty while working at JetBlue when I happened to interview and eventually hire a couple of graduates from this program. The more I understand about I-O Psychology, the more I believe it is an under-leveraged expertise that organizations need, especially to build their competitive advantage.

Some of the questions that academics, students are practitioners address in this area are: What motivates employee behavior? How can employee behavior be measured and linked to bottom-line business results? What makes an effective leader? I-O psychologists specialize in designing and implementing organizational assessments and employee surveys, conducting executive or leader coaching programs, and mining data to determine employee program effectiveness, efficiency or prioritization of initiatives that will make the greatest impact on the organization.

I-O Psychologists are analysts, only they are quite different from financial or other technical analysts in that they deal not only in the rational realm but the emotional side as well. This is where many organizations miss the boat. Many executives make decisions based on fantastic analyses that do not account for non-rational influences, because it’s usually a business person, not a psychologist providing the advice. I’m not saying for executives to abandon the business perspective, but rather, to include another voice among the discussion.

Why am I writing about this in my brandful workforce blog? Because the lines of internal and external branding are blurred. It’s going to take a multi-perspective approach to build a brandful workforce – it’s time to collaborate across disciplines and get to know new ones.

2 thoughts on “What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

  1. Nice post! There is an especially exciting integration of Brand-based services and Industrial-Organizational Psychology (IOP). What IOP often does is provide a level of behavioral specificity that grounds brand in everyday action. I’ve used this approach in helping clients become more customer-centric leaders, aligning the behaviors inside the firm (eg customer service center, or branch office) with the reputation the company seeks to cultivate inside and outside. As illustration, here are two posts from I blog I wrote for two years on the topic.

    The real value of your brand is in the action

    Making change happen: magic words vs. words-in-action

    Glad to see the collaboration in thinking across professional disciplines!

    • Thanks for your comments Marc. Let me know if your organization would be interested in sponsoring an upcoming Brandful Workforce conference. Julia

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