Division of Occupational Psychology

2016

  

This year was a momentous occasion as the Awards Ceremony moved to the DOP Annual Conference for the first time.  Members, winners and nominees came together at the special strictly come dancing themed Gala Dinner in Liverpool to celebrate the success of our 2016 nominees and winners.

The Gala Dinner and Ceremony was opened by our DOP Chair Dr Roxane Gervais with awards presented by BPS President Peter Kinderman, keynote speakers and distinguished guests.  The diverse range of nominations and submissions received in 2016 spanned the breadth and depth of the occupational psychology field and highlighted the positive impact we are having as a profession on environments within the workplace.

Lifetime achievement Award

Practitioner of the Year Award

Academic Contribution Award

Student Prize in Excellence Award

Volunteer of the year Award

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Professor Victor Dulewicz

Since graduating in Psychology from St Andrews in 1968 and then studying for my MPhil and PhD at Birkbeck under Professor Alec Rodger, I have seen myself first and foremost as an Occupational Psychologist, irrespective of job context, in industry, the civil service or academe, working as a manager, consultant, lecturer or researcher. As such, I like to think I have made a contribution to our profession in four main areas:

Psychometric Testing

My first assignment in the Civil Service Department in 1972 was to devise and refine tests used by the Civil Service Selection Board (CSSB), working under the Government’s Chief Psychologist, Dr Edgar Anstey. This provided invaluable experience of psychometrics. I later produced the Job Analysis & Classification Scheme for top CS jobs for CSSB and the CS College. Incidentally, this became the basis for my PhD.

When I moved to Standard Telephones & Cables (STC) as the Company Psychologist in 1976, it was one of the few companies to have their own test batteries. I assumed responsibility for training and monitoring standards of over 100 Personnel Officers and Managers. I also designed new ability tests for managers. STC was seen as a model for other companies, partly based on articles on my work.

I have co-authored four editions of the standard CIPD book, Psychological Testing – A Guide for Managers, and written widely in the press on testing, especially of graduates. I co-authored the first Emotional Intelligence (EI) questionnaire in Europe and then a book (both published by ASE/NFER, 1998) and later the first EI Leadership questionnaire and book (MacMillan, 2016). Extensive research and papers have been produced on these two questionnaires, promoting the value of EI to staff, managers and leaders.

Assessment/Development Centres

My work in the Civil Service Department and as a CSSB assessor provided excellent experience when I joined STC and was asked to set up their first Assessment Centre for assessing general management potential. Named IMPACT, it was the focus of many articles in journals, other publications and conferences. Some colleagues referred to it, even in print, as the Rolls-Royce of Assessment/Development Centres. I went on to design and run other Assessment/Development Centres in the company, and later seven others in FTSE companies as a consultant. Much of my subsequent work has been deeply influenced by the assessment centre method.

Management Competencies

When I moved to Henley Management College in 1986, I was asked to design a competency-based process for the General Management Personal Development Workshop. Based on the assessment centre literature I devised a 40-item competency framework (published by ASE/NFER in 1997). Course members were assessed by their bosses and themselves. Research on the work, centred on the 12 Supra-competencies, was published in journals and conference papers and helped to promote the value and use of competency frameworks in the UK. Nowadays, almost every organization has one! The work also helped Henley win a contract for board work, as described below.

Directors and Board Work

The government set up national standards for employees up to Management level in the 1980s, e.g. NVQs. In the 1990s it decided to extend standards to the very top level, Boards. Henley was awarded the contract, working with the Institute of Directors (IoD), to produce the Standards of Good Practice. A book published by the IoD, Standards of Good Practice for the Board, is still in print today while the Standards continue to be used to assess candidates for the IoD’s professional qualification.

Henley set up the Centre for Board Effectiveness in 1995, of which I was the first Research Director and later became the Director. The numerous articles and conference papers produced have helped to promote the widespread use of the Standards for director selection, appraisal and development and for board group working and appraisal.

I was part of the team which set up the Sunday Times/Peel Hunt UK Non-Executive Director Awards in 2006. Since then I have been their consultant on assessment standards, reporting to the chair of the judges (Baroness Hogg, Sir John Parker and recently Sir Roger Carr), and a judge on the shortlisting and final panels. During this period, I conducted research on the results which has since been published.

Through my work and writings, I hope I have promoted the value of Occupational Psychology to organisations, business schools and boards of directors in the UK and around the world. And I hope to be able to continue doing so in coming years. I thank the BPS for the great honour of this award which I would like to dedicate to all colleagues who have supported me over the last 45 years, and especially my dear friend and colleague John Barker CB, an occupational psychologist who rose to the very top levels of the Civil Service, who sadly passed away on 29 December 2016.

2016 Practitioner of the Year, Dr Balissa Greene (right)

Twenty years ago, OP was not on my radar. I had a well, planned out career in clinical psychology, with clear steps to making a significant contribution to the treatment of individuals with mental illness.  Cue, step 2- gain experience in a large mental health hospital.  However, it was here that I realised the complexity of organisational functioning and the impact of a lack of resources.  Lots of overseas workers, poor conditions, difficult relationships with management and frontline staff.  It truly fascinated… and bothered me.  So I set out to the library to look at whether clinical psychology would deal with that. Back to step 1 - select OP modules on my undergrad course, where I fell even more in love with the theoretical side of the discipline.

I began my OP career at Centrex (now the College of Policing) where I provided assessment- related consultancy to police forces around the UK. I also worked on the design and delivery of high stakes assessment centres and knowledge based multiple choice tests. I have since worked for other private and public sector organisations supporting organisational decision making for graduate recruitment, mergers, redundancies, employee engagement, talent management, leadership development, and the development of safety cultures.  In my current role as Assistant Head of OP at the MOD, the biggest concern is recruiting the right number of the right people into a very demanding role, during a challenging recruitment climate.

It was an honour to receive the Practitioner of the Year Award for my research into the experience of recruitment, progression and retention of Commonwealth personnel in the British Army. This large, multi- method qualitative study enabled the Army to understand how these personnel fit into the organisation and the unintended consequences of developing policies without robust evidence. As a result of this study, the Army has reliable evidence in order to develop new recruitment and development programmes, inform ministerial decision making and an opportunity to share good practice with other large organisations that employ overseas workers.

Practitioner of the Year Runner-up, Rachael Lewis 

I find it hard to believe, but I have worked for nearly 30 years as an Occupational Psychologist, having just celebrated a 30 year reunion of my Psychology degree at the University of Hertfordshire. From there I studied my MSc in Occ Psych before getting involved in some government funded research into thinking skills and transfer of learning in the workplace.  I Chartered whilst at the Employment Service in the 90’s where I had the privilege to work with outstanding colleagues, to the highest standards of rigour.  However, the public sector was not a natural home to me and in 1994 I left to join the prestigious consultancy arm of OPP Ltd.  Here I was fortunate to gain huge amounts of exposure and expertise in running and managing client projects in a broad spectrum of Assessment and Development solutions.    At OPP I was part of a great team and became the Practice Area Manager for Assessment and Development Centres before leaving to establish my own consultancy in 2000.  I am now based in Manchester and enjoy working with public and private sector clients alongside doing pro-bono work in the not-for-profit sector.   Although I still involve myself in Assessment & Development Centres, I have become specialised in building strong leaders and leadership teams as an Executive and Senior/Board Team Coach.  For the past six years I have served as the Chair of a special secondary school for children with Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Health Problems and in that time we have transformed the school from being in Special Measures to ‘Good’.  This has been the most challenging and fulfilling work I have ever done, requiring the practical application of our theories and models to make a real difference to the future for these children. 

DCHS quality always

I wanted to nominate the project with Derbyshire Community Health Services as it is rare as an independent Occ. Psych. to have access to the measurable difference that you make to a client organisation.   DCHS wanted to build leadership capability across all disciplines, but it was quickly apparent that the organisation’s experience of assessment and development was limited, and even senior management were confused about how to best proceed.   With the superb help of DCHS project lead Debbie Taylor (without whom there would be no project) we began to adapt the traditional design for Assessment centres to meet this inexperienced and highly anxious audience.   We constructed a centre that put the needs of the participants at the very heart of the design and delivery, maximising the core principals of: Support balanced with Challenge; Positive Psychology; Strengths Approach; Control; and Transparency.   With the help of experienced colleague Angelina Bennett, we ran a rigorous 2-day Assessor Training event with 18 of the organisation’s most senior managers.  This training put them through the experience of the centres and allowed them to explore and question the design philosophy.  As a result, the organisation gained not only a pool of skilled assessors, but also at team of senior managers aligned to the approach.  In addition, within days, this first cohort of trained assessors was reporting the skills gained from the assessor training as having huge benefits to their ability as managers and recruiters.  This has resulted in training as an assessor becoming mandatory for Grade 8’s and above (currently 49 managers).

We then began the pilot of the development centres.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that the first cohorts were terrified, paranoid and negative about being there (and these were the people chosen as they were likely to be the most positive).  They genuinely feared for their jobs and told stories of how they knew assessors who were receiving threats.  From this very low starting point the shift in organisational attitudes to assessment and development has been nothing short of transformational.  Having attended the development centres the vast majority of participants feel exceptionally positive about their leadership and development needs and a range of metrics (see below) show that they are now hungry for development opportunities.  Perhaps most compelling, is the fact that the where people have attended, workplace performance ratings are improving along with engagement of their teams and self confidence.  

 

2016 First Student Prize in Excellence Winner, Kathryn Pimblett, MSc Occupational Psychology, University of Leicester

"Utilising social media for intelligence and decision support: an analyst-centred investigation of challenges and opportunities"

The increasing popularity of social media over the past decade, combined with its perceived influence on events like the 2011 Arab Spring, has meant that social media content is increasingly being used as a source of intelligence by the defence and security community. The rise of the medium has also presented significant opportunities for analysts employed in finance, marketing, and a host of other sectors where evidence-based predictions and decision-making are a requirement. Social media content has provided a huge repository of individual observations, views, and preferences that can be examined to inform a wide variety of analytical questions. However, the exploitation of such a vast, volatile, and varied data set has presented significant technical challenges. Additionally, the processes and skills associated with successful social media analysis are not well specified.

Existing research concerning the exploitation of social media content has tended to focus on the technical challenges associated with managing, processing, and presenting such a large, heterogeneous, and rapidly changing dataset. Foundational research regarding the types of analytical question that social media can inform, and the strengths and weaknesses of the medium in supporting decision making, is scarce in comparison. Similarly, understanding regarding the challenges faced by analysts in collating, interpreting, and making judgements about social media information remains somewhat immature.

This research has sought to address this gap in the literature, and is intended as a counterpoint to the technical focus of the extant research base. It adopts a qualitative approach to investigate the processes employed by professional analysts from a range of sectors when establishing the credibility and utility of social media content. Drawing on the literature regarding judgement and decision-making, it then explores the potential risks associated with these processes. Thematic analysis of interviews with 7 analysts suggested 4 key strategies for managing the challenges associated with social media content: 1) employing automated tools to process large data-sets; 2) triangulating content to support validation; 3) using experience based judgement to recognise relevant patterns; and 4) working collaboratively to develop techniques and challenge analytic assumptions. The analysis also identified 2 potential risks associated with these strategies – confirmation bias and automation bias.

 

2016 Second place, Student Prize in Excellence, Nicola Paget, MSc Occupational Psychology, Coventry University.

"Psychological Resilience in Ex-military Personnel – its development and influence on gaining a productive civilian career"

Previous studies of military resilience, have focused on traumatic stress and the maintenance of mental health. This mixed methods research is the first to focus on resilience as a transferable construct, and to identify the influence of resilience in successful transition to a productive second career. In current economic times of an aging workforce, stress management and well-being has implications at individual, organisational and societal levels. Whilst high levels of resilience is widely accepted in military personnel, within military research as well as psychology, how this can be translated into a civilian context has not yet been explored. Even Military veterans completing a full 22 year service, are seeking a further career, post retirement. This study sought to identify the benefits of resilience that endure during and after the transition to a new working culture and environment and provide further insight into how resilience can be developed and maintained.

The quality and relevance of participants was paramount to producing valuable research and consisted of ex-military from around the world in all ranks and military services (N=80, mean age µ=47). Quantitative analysis of demographics, resilience (using the RSA scale), stress and job satisfaction, was used to identify any significant relationships and confirmed the link between resilience and a productive career.  Adding qualitative analysis provided the opportunity to determine causal links and the impact of culture, training, and perceptions of how their resilience was developed. The findings from this aspect of the research were far greater than anticipated at inception.

All participants had high levels of resilience, as anticipated from a literature review. Thematic analysis identified common activities and lifestyle factors which the interviewees perceived to be the cause of their high resilience and considerably lower stress than their civilian counterparts. Additional factors within military training and development were also clearly identified, which assisted in obtaining employment and therefore improved transition.  More comprehensive details of the finding are being presented during the conference.

The implication of these results is that the military environment promotes resilience which could be key to successful transition upon retirement. The factors involved could be mimicked to develop resilience in the civilian workforce and could be pivotal in stress management interventions without high costs with benefits potentially continuing into retirement. The benefits of this are at individual, organisational and societal levels and key to public concerns on the consequences of long term stress, aging workforce management and suicide amongst veterans who were unable to transition to civilian life.

 

2016 Third place, Student Prize in Excellence, Rachel Driver, MSc Occupational Psychology, City University of London.

"The Impact of Rating and Ranking Response Formats on Ethnic and Gender Subgroup Differences for a Situational Judgment Test in High Stakes Dental Education" 

Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs) are a selection method designed to measure non-academic qualities, such as teamwork, resilience and empathy. SJTs present written scenarios describing realistic situations that the candidate would likely encounter in the role, along with a list of possible responses they could make (Lievens, Patterson, Corstjens, Martin, & Nicholson, 2016). Candidates indicate the best response for the given situation.

SJTs have gained popularity in high stakes settings such as medical education over the last several decades. In part, this is due to their reported fairness to candidates from minority backgrounds, who tend to underperform, compared to White ethnic majority candidates on traditional selection tests (e.g., cognitive ability tests, Ployhart & Holtz, 2008; Roth, Bevier, Bobko, Switzer, & Tyler, 2001).

Importantly, there was no research investigating the fairness of different types of response formats for SJTs in a dental education setting. For example, whether candidates rank the response options (e.g. from best to worst) or rate each response option separately, might advantage some candidate groups over others (across gender and ethnicities).

This study investigated whether ranking or rating response formats disadvantaged particular demographic groups of candidates, in a group of 244 dental students who completed an SJT that contained both response formats. To this end, the study analysed the average scores for White compared to Non-White students, as well as males compared to females, across both response formats.

The results showed some important differences between the groups:

·         Overall, White participants significantly outperformed Non-White participants for both response formats (ranking and rating)

·         White participants outperformed Non-White participants to a greater extent for the ranking format

·         Overall, female participants outperformed male participants

  • Female participants outperformed male participants to a greater extent for the ranking format

The results of this study contribute important evidence to suggest that SJT response formats impact participants differently across ethnic and gender groups. As this is the first study of its kind in high stakes dental education settings, more research is needed to replicate these effects and unpick finer details underlying these group differences. 

Key implications from the current study include:

  • Ranking formats present a greater disadvantage for Non-White and male candidates

·         Rating formats create smaller group differences and it is recommended these should be the preferred format used for future SJTs

 

2016 Academic Contribution to Practice Winner, ​ Dr Cheryl Travers

 

It was with great pleasure and pride that I received the DOP Academic Contribution to Practice his year. As an academic Occupational Psychologist, I have always been passionate about people development and have been in the business of sharing, what I see as the ‘gift of Psychology’ for around 30 years. After I graduated with a first degree in psychology from Lancaster University, I taught O and A level psychology to college students for a short while and the biggest buzz for me was discovering that many actually took concepts away and applied them in their lives outside of the classroom. Following my Masters from the Social and Applied Psychology Unit in Sheffield, a PhD from UMIST, Manchester and a short stint at London Business School, I arrived at Loughborough University School of Business and Economics 23 years ago, eager to further share psychological concepts, theories and frameworks so that they could be applied for most impact where needed.  Working with a variety of students, business leaders, managers, teams and companies, across a range of levels and industry sectors, I have been able to develop my own theoretically based, highly practical approach to personal development - ‘Reflective Goal Setting’. This framework enhances self-awareness and facilitates the selection and implementation of personal development goals. Over 2500 informed users of the model so far, reveals that it works especially well with hitherto harder to set and measure ‘soft and interpersonal skill’ related goals. My approach supports users in becoming ‘self-coaches’, showing them how to set goals at any time, on anything they want to, at any stage of their life and with transformational outcomes. I’m still getting that buzz!

2016 Volunteer of the Year Award winners (left to right -Ian Bushnall, Jon Cox, Gail Kinman and Peter Kinderman) 

Dr Gail Kinman

Gail Kinman is Professor of Occupational Health Psychology and Director of the Research Centre for Applied Psychology at the University of Bedfordshire. She is a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Gail has had many volunteering roles within the Society. In 2009, she co-founded the BPS DOP’s Working Group for Work-life Balance with Dr Almuth McDowall and continues as co-convenor. This group has been influential in promoting an evidence-based approach to helping individuals and organisations manage the interface between work and personal life in a healthy and sustainable way. As a longstanding member of the former Press and Media Committee, Gail continues to work extensively with the media on behalf of the Society. For several years, she has been a member of the Editorial Board of The Psychologist with responsibility for interviews, and also reports on Society conferences on a regular basis. Gail’s main area of expertise is work-related stress, recovery and work-life balance in emotionally demanding professions such as health and social care, teaching and the emergency and security services. She has a particular interest in developing evidence-based interventions to support the resilience and wellbeing of workers in such jobs. Gail publishes widely in these areas and is on the editorial boards of several high impact scientific journals within the field of occupational health psychology. Her strong interest in work and wellbeing is reflected in her membership of the Work and Health Working Party recently formed by the Society. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology that has recently forged formal links with the DOP.

Jonathan Cox

After more than 30 years as an applied psychologist, working first as a Selection Methods Specialist for BT and later as a Talent Management consultant for a niche HR and IT consultancy called Pilat, Jonathan Cox became an independent practitioner in 2011. Not only did this mean having to market himself to a new client base, but it also set him thinking about his ongoing development, and what if anything he could give back to the Society that had served him so well in the past. Inspired by attending a DOP Annual Conference in Chester, the first time he had done so out of his own pocket, he decided to volunteer and was accepted as a member of the organising committee. His first 12 months in the group was spent managing the submissions process, and for the following two years, he was the co-chair of the conference. Then in his fourth and final term on the team, he was delighted to have the opportunity to take the lead on publicity and marketing, and in commissioning the CPD Workshops.

For Jon, it has been a demanding and at times frustrating experience, but overall an enormously satisfying one – especially seeing the conference come together successfully each January. It has also brought him into contact with all sorts of wonderful people who he might not otherwise have met, both within and beyond the world of occupational psychology. He would therefore commend volunteering with the DOP to anyone to cares about the current and future welfare of our profession. Jon advises new volunteers to be prepared for some hard work though, and be realistic about what you take on. As his family will testify, doing a conscientious job as a volunteer while juggling a busy work and home life can be a challenging experience. However, it has not put him off and he is hoping to take on yet another role in 2017, this time as an elected member of the DOP Committee. Wish him luck!

Dr Almuth McDowall

Almuth has volunteered extensively with DOP in the work-life balance area, making great strides in moving this group on and building extensive connections with relevant organisations.  She has also been Chair of the Division and more recently has contributed in the critically important and challenging area of the DOP qualifications process.  As an academic and practitioner she has brought considerable knowledge and expertise to bear in a way t