Building Wakanda for #TeamSIOP


We've been a little quiet here at the Talent Metrics blog. As a boutique consulting firm we've been more focused on delivering to clients over the past few months. I had promised myself that I'd write about my experience with I-O Shaken and Stirred  (I plan to write about the experience and provide a Joel Lefkowitz reading list that I had promised to Beth Melilo.). However, teaching, consulting, and life have gotten in the way. 

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After #SIOP18 and the I-O Shaken and Stirred experience I was awestruck by the level of engagement in the #IOPsych community. I was able to receive feedback from many of you regarding my talk about values in I-O Psychology. We ran a caption contest based on a fantastic picture that Ben Hawkes took of one of my furtive glances. Lisa Kath won the caption contest but I couldn't believe how much engagement that one tweet received. It left me with an indelible sense of the intelligence and power of the #IOPsych community. At the very least I realized that the IO psych tweeps appreciate making jokes about my nervous glances. Since there's no end to oddball pictures of the Talent Metrics team, we've got a few more caption contests coming up!

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My S&S talk was about the dream of Wakanda and why it had struck such a chord with the general audience  beyond Marvel movie fans. But it was also about building the science that we wished for in the future and in turn offering a vision of the world of work to people outside of our community. Each of the S&S talks highlighted a different element of I-O psychology's values whether it was the need for open access science, civility in the workplace, utilizing neurodiverse talent, valuing the feminine, or becoming an I-O entrepreneur . Each of these speakers spoke about what they cared about. I would recommend checking out the Shaken and Stirred YouTube Channel to see the level of innovation and intelligence on display in each of the S&S talks. 

But if we're serious about the dream of an #IOpsych Wakanda it can't just be S&S speakers that express the values in their hearts. We need all of you to participate. Which brings me to the beauty of Talya Bauer's Presidential call to action She gave some clear action steps about how to get involved in SIOP the organization. I want to support those remarks and ask each of you to take your IO Advocacy (#IOadvocacy anyone?) and bring your whole selves to SIOP whether its through submitting a poster, a panel, an IGNITE session, or an alternative session. Try to submit something this year that you truly care about. Maybe it isn't something that you think will be a slam dunk to get accepted but something that's true to who you are.

Submissions aren't the only way to affect SIOP. You can express your I-O Psych values as a SIOP reviewer. The conference has grown enormously and its important for all of us to not only submit but to review and participate in the content curation of our conference. Beyond the conference, there are many activities that we wish SIOP could take on. If you want SIOP to take on a project or see an opportunity for SIOP in an area that you're passionate about, join the organization, volunteer on a committee or just advocate for the science. 

Finally, I ask everyone to participate beyond SIOP. Whether that's by participating in other conferences (APS, APA, AOM) or bringing some new initiative to your workplace that's rooted in the science of I-O Psychology, or even talking about I-O psychology with a new audience (i.e. a high school class). You can even get involved in a Global Organization for Humanitarian Work Psychology project  It's up to us to express our pride for our field. By advocating for what we believe in I-O Psychology we can get true workplace science out into the world. If I can get my IO tweeps to create such funny, amusing jokes based on 1 silly photo then I hope I can encourage you to represent #TeamSIOP in a new setting where you can advocate for a Smarter Workplace. Let's build the community we dream of starting with SIOP but not stopping there.

With only a few days left before the SIOP submission deadline, there's no better time than now to get involved. Good luck with your submissions, your reviews, and your advocacy! 

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Everyone who participated in the caption contest was a winner (Though technically Lisa's tweet is the winner, so Dr. Lisa Kath is the winner) 

Everyone who participated in the caption contest was a winner (Though technically Lisa's tweet is the winner, so Dr. Lisa Kath is the winner) 

Post-SIOP Thoughts for 2018

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I’m not usually the blog-writing type. In fact, I leave that to our Vice President of Consulting, Dr. Sy Islam of Twitter and IO Shaken & Stirred fame.

I am on my flight back to Orlando and can only peruse social media and Gmail so much…so I have decided to put fingers to keyboard (who puts pen to paper anymore?)

After four days, which included a Wednesday mentoring session for young I-O practitioners at the Early Career Practitioners Consortium, being a member of 3 packed sessions,  as well as attending sessions for my own learning, connecting with colleagues, networking with new friends and witnessing the fantastic IO Shaken & Stirred event, I have come away from SIOP with several thoughts:

1.     A sore throat; likely the combination of being on an airplane, being exposed to the cold in Chicago, and talking virtually nonstop each day for 12 hours

2.     Respect for the great ideas present in our field, from academics to practitioners, and even those who do not typically operate in our space or consider themselves I-O (I’m thinking specifically of Nicole Dessain as I write this)

3.     An even stronger belief that there is room to improve how we share knowledge, address the future of our field, cater to our various membership demographics, and set ourselves up for success

Here’s what I mean:


Tom Waits (circa 2006)

Tom Waits (circa 2006)

Despite nutritional supplements & medicine, I had to use a microphone for the first time in my life. Much like the Lebron James, I could not stop the throat soreness, I could only hope to contain it.


Talent Metrics' own VP of Consulting & Professional Presence, Dr. Sy Islam, being the opening speaker for the night's @ IO Shaken and Stirred in Chicago on Friday, April 20th, 2018!

Talent Metrics' own VP of Consulting & Professional Presence, Dr. Sy Islam, being the opening speaker for the night's @ IO Shaken and Stirred in Chicago on Friday, April 20th, 2018!

I seriously want to put it out there that Jennifer Weiss is an I-O rock star! I have rarely been to an event as well produced and intellectually stimulating as Shaken and Stirred. I have attended SIOP, APA, EPA,  ATD, & SHRM for over 15 years! Providing a venue and a platform for great I-O (and non I-O minds) to share ideas or solutions to widespread issues is the type of “shot-in-the-arm” that our field needs.  Go to immediately, watch this year’s participants and see what I mean.  EVERYONE was terrific!!!

For myself and many colleagues, the “Shaken” event was symbolic of the future possibilities that await the field of I-O psychology. Innovation has started to take hold in the formats of our sessions and new events.

There were also many great panels, debates and sessions with I-O powerhouses like Seymour Adler, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, David Bracken, Jeffrey Saltzman, Nathan Mondragon,  and Tiffany Poeppelman that also drew attention to the newest ideas in technologies in our field, as well as the need to see where we are headed.

While there have been such sessions in year’s past, the sheer volume in 2018 has given me hope that several things are all on the upswing going forward: SIOPs direction, our branding as I-Os, and the growth of our membership!


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While there was so much positive, there is still room to improve. I believe SIOP has the right idea about how to brand our field, but I still must explain what I do to new clients every week…our external brand remains weak.

Everyone who knows anything about Talent Metrics also knows that we are all about the branding. Everyone who works here is a passionate advocate for I-O, delivering for our clients and representing our brand as strongly as possible.  Our entrepreneurial culture has been key to our success. We build relationships every day. We also generate, listen to, and implement new strategies, tools, and processes all the time.  SIOP has started to take on these elements of entrepreneurship with alternative session types, reverse debates, master tutorials, and a machine learning competition. I have never seen a conference like this and I can’t wait to see what’s next.


Our team is always interested in hearing what you think, coming to speak at your organization or academic institution, or having a friendly debate! Please reach out to us at, directly to myself , or even to the incredible Dr. Islam

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The Unexpected, Unplanned Magical Mystery Tour


We have been quiet here on the Talent Metrics blog, but not for lack of trying. With SIOP submissions, some recent manuscript submissions and client projects we have been busy. We just haven't had time to post on the blog. The blog is a key part of what we're about at Talent Metrics because part of our company mission is to advocate for evidence-based data driven management and people practices. A large piece of that mission is being a part of local organizations. Each of the principal consultants at Talent Metrics is involved in some local organization related to human resources, talent management and I-O Psychology. Our advocacy comes in multiple forms whether its poster presentations at SIOP or the Association for Psychological Science  or writing research articles. This has expanded to participating in podcasts and speaking engagements. 

The very cool Department 12 podcast logo! 

The very cool Department 12 podcast logo! 


Recently Mike and I were on the Department 12 Podcast with our pal Dr. Ben Butina. Give the podcast a listen. Ben does a wonderful job interviewing some great names in I-O and talent management, you can learn a lot. Check out Mike and I discussing Text Analytics here

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Over the next two weeks Mike and I will be participating in a series of speaking engagements. On November 9th I'll be speaking with the Moxxie Mentoring Network Moxxie is a terrific "women's business community of high-achievers that provides resources, connections and experiential knowledge to peers" The organization provides young women the opportunity to connect, network, and learn from other women in business. I'll be discussing talent management strategy and employer branding. 


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On November 16th Mike and I will be presenting at the Association for Talent Development NYC I have been a member of ATD for quite a while and I currently serve on the ATD Long Island board (my local chapter!) Mike and I will facilitate a Conversation Hour about People Analytics. You can register for the event here or reach out to us by email if you have specific questions. 

Finally, on November 18th I'l be participating on a Diversity and Inclusion panel at NYU as part of a NY Organizational Psychology Student Association event. Check out the flier below for more information.


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We'd like to see you at any of these events. If you can't attend one of the above events and would like us to present feel free to reach out to us. We're always happy to visit! 

YouTuber: Career or Fad?

by Darla Van Govan

Note from Sy: We're lucky to be running our first guest post by one of our interns Darla Van Govan. Enjoy! Be sure to follow her at @IO_Psych101 

The Rise of YouTubers

Over the last 12 years, YouTube has become a daily destination for content. Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has transitioned from a video sharing platform to a content creating space. There has been an influx of individuals creating content on YouTube in recent years. Many of these individuals do it as weekend entertainment or as a secondary source of income. However, there has been a growing population of individuals who become full-time YouTubers. With the incorporation of AdSense and third party sponsorships, it has become possible to make a modest income. These individuals leave their more traditional occupations to devote time to their YouTube channels. Their goal in becoming full-time YouTubers is to grow their channel and their influence on other social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

In recent years, advancements in technology and science have created demands for jobs that did not exist a few decades ago. It can be said that being a YouTuber is one of the newer career choices available to individuals, particularly millennials. However, since it is a relatively new platform, it is often debated whether if being a YouTuber can even be a viable long-term career choice. This question has a complex answer that is both yes and no.  

There is a perception that being on YouTube is not a job, that it does not require or develop any useful skills typically found in “normal” jobs. A common complaint is that the typical YouTuber stays home all day, sits in front of the camera to talk about a topic (or themselves) or to demonstrate something. This is not the case at all.

Careful consideration must be taken with how a YouTuber is labeled. It is important to acknowledge that “YouTuber” is not a job title. For example, engineers at Google do not call themselves Googlers. Chemists at L’Oreal do not call themselves L’Orealers. Similarly, a YouTuber is not simply a YouTuber. This is extremely limiting and does not communicate YouTubers’ varied skills. Rather, it is more accurate to call them content creators. YouTube is a not a career or a job title, it is a platform for content creation.


Myth 1: Anyone Can Do YouTube

Content creators on YouTube have skills rooted in multiple disciplines. Three things are required for a successful YouTube channel: personality, niche content, and quality control. That is not to argue that having these three things will guarantee an aspiring Youtuber fame and fortune. It is unwise to make such promises. However, they are three important ingredients to success as a content creator on YouTube.

  • ·      Personality: This is a no brainer. An interesting and engaging personality will attract more views and subscribers. Everyone has a favorite YouTuber or two. We watch these favorites religiously. We watch them because we like them as a person and we like the content that they produce. The biggest and the most popular YouTubers are ones with recognizable personalities - PewDiePie, JennaMarbles, iJustine, Phillip DeFranco, and KSI to name a few. An opinionated personality makes a YouTuber easy to connect with; it makes them more than a face on a computer screen.      

  • ·         Niche Content: No doubt there are strong communities,, even industries in the YouTube space. A quick search on YouTube and you can easily find the heavy hitters in the Beauty Guru community and the experts in the Tech community. Other genres include Gaming, Lifestyle, and Pranks/Comedy. Having a defined channel ensures that the target audience is reached. It also makes it possible to network and collaborate with other YouTubers within the same genre. It also gives the YouTubers the ability to build camaraderie among the subscribers. Building a community with viewers is extremely vital to creating a loyal fanbase. Some fans are devoted enough to claim that they know their favorite YouTubers better than friends and family. Some even claim their favorite YouTubers are major influencers in their lives.

  • ·         Quality Control: It takes both time and money to create professional-level quality videos on YouTube. Many YouTubers invest in high-end microphone and camera set-ups as their viewership increases. There is also the need to learn how to use professional-grade editing software. Some of the larger channels, such as Unbox Therapy, even invest in separate filming studios. As many of these content creators rely on YouTube as either a primary or secondary source of income, producing quality content is regarded as extremely important.       


The purpose here is not to dissuade future aspirants from pursuing YouTube. It is imperative to remember that becoming a YouTuber in the comforts of one’s own home is not a get rich quick scheme. It requires unwavering dedication, time, and even money to truly have a chance at becoming successful on the platform. Those who start Youtube channels with the intention of becoming the next PewDiePie or IISuperwomanII will find themselves burnt out and discouraged when they realize their growth is not moving as quickly as they had hoped.   


Myth 2: I Can Do YouTube Forever

YouTubers can make an income, even at small amounts, from uploading videos to YouTube. But is it a career? Or even a job? Not quite so. The relationship between YouTubers and YouTube is not equal. Content creators are not employees of YouTube or Google. YouTube, in the end, does not owe content creators anything. There is no salary; there is no employer-employee contract vetted by a HR professional. The income YouTubers make is dependant on ad revenue and sponsorships, not a wage determined by YouTube. Rather than an employee, content creators are users of a service. That is all.  

This unilateral relationship was apparent in the recent YouTube policy changes termed “Adpocalypse” by many Youtubers. This began when the Wall Street Journal targeted PewDiePie after couple videos were deemed controversial. They ran with a sensational “PewDiePie is a Nazi” story. Further investigations led to the discovery that there are more controversial content on YouTube with ads enabled. This instigated a massive exodus of YouTube advertisers.

Another incident was when YouTube tried to be more transparent with their ad revenue policies. The new policy stated that if videos are demonetized by YouTube from that point onward, the content creators would be notified. This, of course, meant that prior to this new transparency policy, YouTube did not notify content creators when videos were demonetized. How ironic!  

This, as one can imagine, caused a ripple throughout the entire YouTube community as many well-known YouTubers’ earnings have dwindled; some by 60-80%. Many content creators have looked far and wide for other sources of income. These include Patreon and other donation set-ups, merchandise stores, moving onto other platforms or creating their own, and seeking sponsorships. A handful have already decided to leave content creation permanently. The moral of these recent events show that YouTubers may not always be able to stay YouTubers full-time. YouTube may not always exist as a viable source of income.

Another concern is the longevity of being a YouTube content creator. Using the trajectory of an educator’s career as an example, we can map out roughly the career path, from a student teacher to associate teacher to senior teacher. Some may enter the administrative side by becoming principals, joining school district administrations, or even, ahem, vying for the position of Secretary of Education. The changes in roles and responsibilities keep things relatively fresh over the course of a career. Variety is the spice of life. The same can be said about work life.

However, a YouTuber is always a YouTuber. The only way YouTubers can grow professionally is by finding new opportunities - which may not be readily available to a beginner YouTuber - and creating a variety of content. Making videos may get monotonous over time. Switching niches may be risky. A tech expert who wants to suddenly make videos about the vegan lifestyle may alienate a portion of their viewership. A career as a YouTube content creator can be inflexible as they are locked inside a bubble. This has been seen many times with content creators from BuzzFeed. In the last couple years, many BuzzFeed content creators have gone rogue in order to create their own unaffiliated content. However, their new content is similar to their BuzzFeed portfolio. Being known for one style of content or for a specific niche effectively typecasts content creators into that bubble.         


Myth 3: #YouTubeIsDying

Given what is discussed above, it may come across as a surprise that the Twitter hashtag is presented as a myth. Being an industrial-organizational psychologist is not just about identifying problems, it is also about figuring how to address them. Creating content for YouTube is not entirely a waste of time, especially for the younger individuals who are still identifying personal strengths and weaknesses. YouTubers develop skills that are relevant to and are valued in other careers. YouTubers are masters of content creation. This particular set of skills is valued in the digital marketing and branding spaces, for example. Another skill everyone must develop is verbal communication, regardless of industry. Learning to use editing software or a new piece of equipment can be accomplished over time. However, verbal communication is the first skill YouTubers need to master.

Soft skills should also be acknowledged. This includes time management, ability to be a self-starter, and manage a project or product development from start to finish. These skills are extremely needed in a variety of jobs. YouTube can be used to learn skills which are useful outside the video sharing platform. If YouTube does cease to exist one day, with careful personal re-branding and portfolio building, a YouTuber could easily find a job that fit their content creation skills.       


The Future of Youtube

What it means to be a YouTuber has already begun to see a transformation. In its humble beginnings, YouTube was used to share content for entertainment. Then it progressed into an income generating platform for content creators. Many YouTubers consider producing content a full-time occupation. Now, society is experiencing the age of influencers, which is a new tactic employed by marketing teams.    

Many YouTubers are already involved in large scale marketing campaigns. More and more YouTubers are becoming “Influencers.” Impacted by their internet celebritydom, YouTubers and other individuals with large social media followings are often targeted as brand and marketing tools. In the beauty industry,  there are many makeup, skin- and hair-care brands who are exclusively YouTube or Instagram-famous. One such brand famously known for YouTube affiliates is Morphe. Among the non-niche content creators, sponsorships, such as those from Crunchroll, LootCrate, SquareSpace, and GlassesUSA, are commonplace. In a political twist, Hillary Clinton sought out endorsements from influential YouTubers during the campaign trail. This does not mean that YouTubers are no longer trustworthy in their opinions and in their content. Most of them continue to create trustworthy content that are enjoyable. This only reveals a growing trend in how online marketing is achieved today.

     So what is the “TL;DR” short answer to the question of whether if YouTubing is a viable career choice? Being a content creator on a video-sharing platform is not a lifelong career move. There is no guarantee that income generating, video-sharing platforms will still be present in 15-20, or even 30 years. However, the skills one develops as a content creator may open up opportunities elsewhere.

One such opportunist is Michelle Phan, one of the original beauty gurus on YouTube. Once she gained large enough of a following, she was able to pursue business ventures. On a smaller scale, other beauty gurus often collaborate in makeup collections with established brands. Philip DeFranco, who creates daily news show content, is in the process of establishing his own independent news network. Casey Neistat, another well known giant on YouTube, controversially sells his company to CNN for $25 million. Neistat’s fans now joke that CNN now stands for Casey Neistat Network.   

All of these examples show that even now, YouTubers are smartly reaching for opportunities that go beyond making videos on YouTube. They acknowledge that in order to survive with a social media-driven career, they must become entrepreneurs and create opportunities for themselves, just as the Kardashians famously (or infamously, depending on your views) did in their rise to fame. Just as how Kylie Jenner is now on her way to $1 billion from her cosmetics line.    

Pre-SIOP Annual Conference thoughts!


It is once again the time of year when the Annual SIOP Conference is on the minds of many IO Psychology scientists & practitioners.  Each year, these few weeks leading up to the conference are a good time to reflect on my career and what I hope to gain from attending. I recommend that everyone reading this post takes some time to think about what they would like to learn and what they hope to accomplish during the April 27-29 time frame.

This year, the conference is conveniently located in my neighborhood, Orlando, Florida. It’s a chance for me to see some colleagues from New York and around the country. I mention NY specifically because it is where my firm’s primary office is, and where I went to graduate school. Everyone should reach out to their friends, contacts, and colleagues and use SIOP as a chance to catch up if possible.

When first attending SIOP in 2003, which was coincidentally in Orlando, I was a first year graduate student. I tried to attend every session and relentlessly pressured my mentors to introduce me to their peers and help guide me through the conference. They really did not do much to help! They wanted me to figure it out on my own. After many years, I think I may have figured out a few things.  I volunteered as a SIOP ambassador this year to (hopefully) impart some of my knowledge to a few first-year attendees.

Essentially, my goals for the conference fall into one of the three “buckets” below.


Conference sessions- When I am not participating in my own sessions, I try to break up my time evenly between attending sessions that are focused on my current work/interests and those topics that I want to learn more about or I feel would help me grow as a practitioner. Looking over the program ahead of time is very important!  Feel free to be swayed by your colleagues or deviate from your plans on occasion…but attending the sessions that YOU want to go to will make your conference experience more valuable.

Networking- This is the one of my favorite things about the annual conference. Whether talking I/O or where to go eat later, every first conversation has the potential to help forge a lasting friendship or business relationship. Networking, much like attending sessions, helps you grow as a person and a professional. If you need food and entertainment recommendation for Orlando and the surrounding areas, please shout & wave at me at the conference or simply come over to talk!

Hanging out and having fun- Now, I know everyone coming to beautiful, sunny Orlando has this on their mind. I would be remiss if I tried to make SIOP all about work! While I travel and see my old classmates and colleagues from time to time, SIOP is a chance for everyone to catch up as well as chat about old times. Attending the evening “Alumni events” that some grad schools host is a great way to reconnect with those from your cohort as well as others who graduated from your program (ok, its networking).  Connecting with people at these events is definitely more casual than during the day and gives you the opportunity to make evening plans and, in this case, explore Orlando…it isn't just theme parks and tourist fodder.

Check out this informative travel video ;-) :


As I finalize plans with some colleagues for the week of the conference, I urge you all to do the same!

Have a great time if you are going, chat with me if you see me around, and watch for my post-SIOP conference review in a few weeks!


Hidden Figures, Hidden Talent

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One of the challenges of talking, writing, consulting, or teaching about IO Psychology is the difficulty that lay people (i.e. company stakeholders, students, my parents and family) have in understanding the value of what we bring to the workplace. I often try to use films and TV shows as examples. My closest friends know that I love films and television. My wife and I enjoy going to the local multiplex to see what’s playing. We recently watched Hidden Figures, a terrific film about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson and their work at NASA. The film illustrated their difficulty in being noticed by the establishment at NASA during the space race. During this difficult time when the United States needed all the science and engineering talent it could muster, those in charge at NASA seemingly ignored these individuals because they were African-American and female.


Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons play three supervisors in the film and as I was watching I was flabbergasted by each character's’ decision to discount the evidence of their own eyes. Each of these supervisors lessened what they saw in their employees’ positive work performance. Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) and Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) both ignored high quality performances because of demographic characteristics. The first such example in the film is that of Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who had spent a year working as a supervisor and yet could not receive the official designation and title. Vaughan had obviously excelled and succeeded in the role but her supervisor, Vivian Mitchell would not budge on the issue of her promotion. Katherine Johnson fared no better. As a woman who excels at math and science she is subtly ignored by men in the workforce due to gender stereotypes. Add her status as an African-American to the mix and no wonder she’s often ignored by the other staff members in the NASA computing division. While these actions are perhaps more prominently delineated because this is a PG-rated Hollywood family film taking place during the racially charged 1960's, the underlying idea rings true.  


While such explicit bias isn’t as common in the modern era I wonder how often subtle bias affects managers and decision makers in talent management. Perhaps it's not even bias but organizational politics or an inability to see what’s in front of us. Imagine looking at Lebron James and saying “he’s not good enough for my team” or looking at Stephen Hawking and saying “he’s disabled, I don’t think he can do physics research.” The film illustrates the active process by which those in authority can ignore true talent even if it sits in front of them.

Truth and Talent

As an IO Psychology practitioner, a professor, and a consultant I treasure the truth. Watching Hidden Figures reminded me how far people can sometimes go when it comes to ignoring the truth. There are social, cultural, and political reasons why this happens. We see these distortions in the form of commonly held stereotypes. Stereotypes that continue to threaten potentially talented individuals from pursuing leadership roles,  pursuing STEM careers, or even envisioning their own ability to achieve. As a social scientist, a teacher, and a consultant I cannot allow these types of untruths to continue unabated. We need to stand up for the truth which is that qualified individuals of every demographic category need opportunities to succeed. If we commit to this as a field and as a community then we can start to honestly address these issues and design interventions and solutions that allow organizations to thrive while allowing people from diverse backgrounds to succeed. Science is about striving to look for the truth and in IO psychology we try to identify the truth in people’s abilities and design solutions to put people in the right jobs where they can succeed.

What can be done?

If human judgment, intuition, and gut instinct have multiple issues  then what can be done? Just like with any other decision in life, a decision about promotion, selection, and termination should be made using tools. Tools before the days of IO psychology included asking a friend or seeking out an expert, perhaps getting a recommendation. In the age of the internet and the mobile device think about the last time you made a decision about where to eat, what to buy, or who to date without referencing Yelp or Amazon reviews (Aziz Ansari writes about this process quite beautifully in Modern Romance).

IO Psychology and Human Resources Management research have helped the talent management field generate several tools that can be used for the process of selecting, training, promoting, and managing an employee. There are so many tools out there in the modern era that the process of ignoring a talented employee because of gender, race, or religion seems unfathomable. Yet it continues to happen.


As a front-line, mid-level, or hiring manager you have the power to use these tools to make better decisions. Here’s some general advice about how to avoid missing out on hidden talent.


  1. Discuss the job requirements with your HR and recruiting teams. In the selection process make it clear to your HR and recruitment teams what you’re looking for. Be sure to include the results of a job analysis so that the requirements of the job are clear to all involved in the hiring process.

  2. Use psychometrically valid tools that assess the job requirements. Make sure that the tools that you’re planning on using measure the real job requirements. If your organization uses an observation checklist then make sure that observers are looking for those behaviors that are actually part of the job that lead to organizationally valued results. If your organization uses a work sample test or an interview make sure that those tools assess the necessary skills for the job. Make sure that your organization knows how to use these tools as well. Ask consultants or test developers about how these tools ought to be used.

  3. Reflect on your processes. Even if your organization has matched job requirements to hiring and performance appraisal systems, it’s important to look at the organization as a whole. Are there gaps that exist in your organization in terms of diversity? Does your organization promote diversity effectively. Without an honest self reflection organizations can have situations of disparate impact Even psychometrically valid tools are built by humans and can sometimes have bias built into them inadvertently. If you don’t reflect on these processes you can miss errors that are being made.

  4. Recognize that the process is iterative. You and your organization may not get it right straight away. The goal is to keep working towards developing fairer hiring and promotion practices because these practices do lead to better business results and create a more just world.

Finally, I want to leave you with a reminder that even if you do put in your due diligence you might miss top talent. Remember Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round of the NFL draft. Those teams didn't miss his talent for lack of trying. As HR, IO Psychology, and talent management professionals it’s up to us to stay committed to searching for talent everywhere so that our organizations can be more effective and bring about a more just world. The lesson of Hidden Figures isn't that talent was hidden but that it was ignored.


The real Katharine Johnson

The real Katharine Johnson



Why You’re Not Getting More Out of Your Employee’s Training: The 4R Model

In a recent piece on the SIOP website,I was asked to give some advice to frontline and mid-level managers about how to get the most of their training in 2017. Here’s a follow-up to the aforementioned piece...which has great tips about employee engagement and work teams!

I had written my original response in the form of resolutions addressing some of the concerns that managers had about whether employees used what they learned in training on the job. This concept is referred to as training transfer. A recent experience at Starbucks reminded me of these resolutions.

1.) "As a front-line or mid-level manager, I resolve to recognize when my employees use the training."

This resolution means being aware of what training employees are receiving and ultimately what the goals of that training are so that a front-line or mid-level manager can recognize when the training is being used by an employee. This might necessitate that a manager has to sit in on the training or at least receive a copy of the training materials.

2.) "As a front-line or mid-level manager, I resolve to reward employees for using their training."

This resolution means that managers should not only recognize that what was learned in training is being used, but that there is a reward the employee receives for following the training. The reward can be something as simple as verbal encouragement or giving your subordinate a desirable assignment. We know from Thorndike's Law of Effect that if we want a behavior to be repeated, we need to reinforce it with a reward.

3.) "As a front-line or mid-level manager, I resolve to review my employees performance and recommend any possible training that may be available to help them improve"

This resolution means that a manager should provide feedback to employees about the employee’s work performance, as well as provide them with suggestions for training programs that may help them improve. This might also include speaking to the training and development department about programs that are currently offered to further develop subordinates and providing access or information to qualified employees who have not participated in the training.

Now I recently saw these steps in action in a completely random encounter at the local Starbucks.

I walked into the Starbucks at the Farmingdale LIRR station (a local commuter train station for those not from the Greater NY area) on a warmer than average morning in January. I ordered a pair of drinks with the barista at the counter. She seemed uncomfortable and had the distinct air of a novice. She nervously asked me my name and checked how to spell it before handing the cup off to a man who appeared to be her manager. He looked ready to make my drink but looked at the cup and back at her and told her gently that she’d forgotten to write my order on the cup. He reminded her of her training to write the order on the cup in shorthand (cascara latte shortened to CAS). This immediately piqued my interest because I rarely get a chance to hear a manager reference training in my interactions with staff.

After correcting her behavior, he referenced a previous behavior by saying, “Looks like you did a good job learning how to use the POS (point of service) system, now you just need to remember to write down the drink orders.” His behavior was a great example of how to recognize and reward an employee for using what they learned in training.

As he was making my drink, he continued his conversation with his novice employee. He referred to some other work that she had done in addition to using the POS system and asked her how she felt her training experience was going. She talked to him about some challenges she faced with making drinks. After which he grinned at her and said “You can’t sit at the cash register all day. You’ve gotta learn to make some drinks otherwise you’re going to get bored.” As he was finishing my cascara latte he waved her over and said “take a look at how I’m sprinkling on the cascara latte topping, you get a nice little line right at the top. The more you practice this the better you’ll get.”

*not a picture of my actual drink at Starbucks

*not a picture of my actual drink at Starbucks

His actions were a great indication of reviewing the training that an employee has received and recommending further training. In this case reviewing the training that she had received and recommending ways to practice what she’s learned.  

This was a wonderful illustration of these four R’s. If you are a manager reading this I hope you can use this example as a way to engage with your employees more effectively about their experiences in training.


                                                      The 4 R's Model

                                                      The 4 R's Model

In order to gauge the effectiveness of recognize-reward-review-recommend process, there are 4 simple approaches to evaluate the model’s effectiveness:

1.) If you're aware of the behaviors that your employees learned watch for them. If they're using what they learned in the training on the job, that's a sign of success.
2.) Look at your key performance indicators as a department. Not just the overall outcomes, but variables that you know lead to greater outcomes later on. For example, if you're managing your sales force and they attended a sales training, perhaps sales didn't immediately increase, but perhaps your sales team are making more calls and building a larger network. That indicates that they're doing the right things in the process of doing their job.
3.) Informally survey your employees about their training experiences. Are they using what they learned? Do they feel comfortable or have the opportunity to use what they learned? If there is anything that you as a manager can do to make it possible for your employees to implement their training? Also, pay attention to the results of pulse surveys that your organization conducts.
4.) After 6 months or a year, identify key departmental outcomes that were supposed to change based on the training. Managers are usually looking at those numbers already. The key is to try to connect them back to the training that employees have experienced.

I hope my coffee buying experience helps you and your company to get the most of out of your training. If you have got other suggestions please write them in the comments below!

* my actual drink, a cascara latte!   All images used under the  Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

* my actual drink, a cascara latte! 

All images used under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

Using Learner Segmentation in Online Hospitality Training Programs

This post was originally written by Peter Matamala who works with our friends at Matchstick Inc. We're cross posting this post with his permission. We hope you find this content useful. Let us know what you think in the comments below! 

The core objective of any quality training program is to create relevant and meaningful content that drives performance results and positive change for the learner and the organization. To achieve this, one must take into account company culture and employee profile. This is a critical consideration in today’s hospitality workplace which is a vibrant collage of - cultures, languages, experiences, beliefs and age groups.  Unfortunately, the diversity we so value creates complexities and can prevent training programs from achieving their desired outcome.  Our job as instructional designers is to accommodate all learner needs and acknowledge this diversity in the hospitality training programs we create.  In this article we will explore how instructional designers can leverage the organization’s data about our diverse organizations to design more relevant and targeted training.

Obtain your Organization’s Data

The first step in tackling the challenge of diverse learning needs is to obtain an understanding of the learner requirements.  It is essential that during the assessment phase of your project, instructional designers 'peel' back the layers on your training audience to understand their needs better.

Today’s organizations are data rich, collecting employee and technology data from many sources and making it available to various departments.   The instructional designer that successfully evaluates and assembles this data can create a vivid picture of the organization’s learner landscape. Consider the data available in a typical IT department.  End user computing and security teams would almost certainly have data pertaining to employee devices, browsers, and wireless access at learner locations.  This useful information allows your ID to leverage existing technology, determine optimal learning modalities and implement effective design techniques.  Human Resources will likely be able to provide learner location, language and job level among many other employee attributes, thereby providing key information that could influence translation costs, accessibility to training content and desired training topics.

The designer needs only to assemble this data to paint a picture of the learner population.  Let’s now take a look at how that would be accomplished.


Create a Matrix

After obtaining learner related data, begin assembling it into a matrix.  Choose a primary attribute and compare that against the other attributes and capabilities. For example, take Job Role and compare against computing device, location and language.  Use spreadsheets and pivot table analysis to filter and summarize the data.

The output should look something like the table below.  Notice we have placed the role on the y-axis and learner attribute on the x-axis.  


Where x and y intersect, we show the counts of learners meeting that criteria.  Use of a spreadsheet and pivot table analysis will make this task much easier.  

Analyze the Matrix

Once you have created your matrix, take a look at the data and volume counts and begin to develop some core and outlier requirements for this online program.  In our matrix example a few things stand out:

1.     Heavy use of mobile devicevs. PC's

2.     First language of this training population is predominately the local language.

3.     In comparison with the total population, the number of learners with an advanced degree is about half.  

As a response to finding #1 noted above, the designer would absolutely need to consider designing for mobile.  In finding #2, voice overs and on screen text would need to be in the local language and could impact on screen text and voiceovers.  For finding #3, the matrix shows that there are large portions of both manager and non-managers who have advanced degrees.  

A savvy Instructional Designer can take the analysis further to determine mobile device type, types of languages and degree levels of the manager/non-manager bases.  This more detailed assessment and review will help further refine the training and, based on the above, allows the designer to confidently design a mobile program in the local language.  Perhaps the training should be offered in manager and non-manager versions.  In instances where there are large percentages of foreign languages spoken, a specific language matrix can help prioritize which languages are most widely spoken and would be in scope for translation.Delivering the Online Training

For the eLearning program outlined in our example above, the instructional designer can use the matrix to create segments of learners.   Building segmentations can be a great tool in determining how best to deliver and deploy the training.  The segment analysis of this data shows an array of learner device and PC access.  We also know that there are various job roles in the learner population. Finally we also know the HR data can show the number of learners in certain regions or locations.

With this information at hand, the instructional designer can work with the LMS team, training managers and regional staff to deploy the online training in a targeted and deliberate fashion.  For example, designers might use this information to deploy to the segments of:

  • Managers only
  • Non-Managers only
  • Back office staff
  • Mobile devices users
  • PC users
  • Location
  • Language

Designers could use this data to deploy to managers first so they can take the training prior to their staff to encourage top-down support.  Perhaps the operations teams want to avoid training deployments to back office staff during quarter end or year end activities.   Knowing which learners have only PC’s or mobile devices can help the deployment team target instances where a learner should receive the Flash or HTML5 version of the training.

Segmentation of the learner population can be a powerful tool in the reporting and analytics for any hospitality training program. We will follow up in a later post and explore that in greater detail.


This method of identifying smaller, homogenized groups, from a larger and potentially highly diverse learner population is highly valued by designers hoping to tailor the learning to the target audience or control the rate and reach of how hospitality training is deployed.    While this does represent some additional effort, the time spent at the beginning of a training project can help designers deliver training with an exceptional understanding of their learner environment, thereby positively impact the take rate and application of knowledge learned.

To learn more about Match Stick and their e-learning solutions check out their site



As a consultant, I travel both domestically and internationally. Two weeks ago, during a four day trip to NY, I realized that I have amassed a small collection of items that I truly need when away from home and other items that just make travel more comfortable. It also dawned on me that I pack almost all of these items whether I travel a few hours away by car or many hours in the air. I realized that I’m a bit obsessed with my travel gear!  See the last pic below, that seems like my life at times!

Along with many of my fellow SIOP members, I am burned out from writing conference submissions and finishing research over the last month.  So I decided to do something easier (AKA lazy) and just share my “travel checklist” with hopes that other management consultants/IO practitioners/hobos may enjoy the light reading and may even find something useful! Here’s the larger list of items, in no particular order:

  • Power pack
  • Tri-fold garment bag/duffel
  • Business cards
  • TSA Precheck
  • Quirky All purpose rubber bands w/hooks
  • Laptop bag
  • Space saving travel bags
  • High quality USB charging cable
  • Travel Electric Adaptor
  • Elevator Speech

Here are some of my favorite items:

Trifold garment bag- Having this bag eliminates the possibility of being asked to check my bag at the gate (which happens often when traveling using a traditional carry-on suitcase or folding garment bag). Overhead compartments get crowded on domestic flights and especially with the smaller bins on international flights. I find it comforting to know that I can avoid the luggage carousel when I arrive at my destination and keep my stuff within reach at all times. I can carry my suits and shirts all day and unpack them with minimal wrinkles upon arrival.

TSA PreCheck- This may be the best thing I have purchased for travel. If I get held late with a meeting, wait on line to return a rental car, or simply want to get a few more minutes of sleep, the PreCheck makes getting to my gate much easier. I get to keep my laptop in its case and remain fully dressed (which is helpful during business travels, but also when traveling with the family (including two young kids) for vacation. Its like a two-for-one benefit!

Business cards and elevator speech- I lump these together because they are equally important and serve the same purpose: communicating your brand as a consultant. Sometimes you only have a few moments to chat with someone and the opportunity to convey your passion for what you do. I have conversed with many interesting people when I have my hands full of luggage or in the middle of snacking during my travel.  I ask for their card and they say, “Oh, I don’t have any on me”. I try to keep their name on my mind, but most of the time when I finally get a chance to settle down, it is lost forever. The speech is important, but the business card is key.


High quality USB cable- more specifically USB-to-micro USB cable. This 6 foot cable allows me to charge my phone from a myriad of USB ports on computers, rental cars, alarm clocks, hotel televisions, etc that I come across. Regardless of location, I can always charge!!! It can be bent, folded, twisted, and otherwise abused and will not leave me stranded with a frayed cord or damaged connector like the cheap ones that all smartphones come with…looking at you Apple and Samsung!

Power bank- For the times when I can’t get to an outlet, don’t have the right power adaptor and do not have access to a 2.1A or higher USB port (which current smart phones need to charge with any sort of speed), the power bank is a life saver. My phone can be charging while I sit at the airport, while in flight, while I drive, or even when sitting in day-long meetings sans computer. Using the power bank, I can charge anywhere without a wall socket! 


There are things that I am leaving out like headphones, USB drives, my smartphone, and a passport holder wallet which I also take with me on every trip. I would be interested in hearing what others bring that they simply can’t do without.  Please share your best travel accessories in the comments below!

Ensuring your 360 appraisals doesn't suck!

Over the last few months, I have been drawn into conversations with colleagues and clients about leadership assessment, performance management, survey design, linkage analytics, and 360 feedback. During these conversations, the recent trend to change performance management or even eliminate performance appraisals in their most typical form often comes up. Despite this trend, I believe the process is still useful as part of the larger overall assessment of individual's strengths and developmental opportunities. When implemented correctly, it can drive employee development and key business outcomes. Below, I provide tips on how to optimize 360 degree feedback based on experience and evidence accumulated in the literature.

In my experience over the last decade or so, I have seen 360 appraisals range from very successful to almost completely ineffective. Most of the time, it was not the actual survey or items that were ill conceived (though that idea could be its own blog post), but rather a lack of clear direction and understanding of the 360 appraisal process that may have doomed the intervention before it began.

I put forth these 10 statements and questions as a practical “birds eye view” guide to implementing 360 appraisal processes that can be applied across companies and industries.

 1.      Identify the purpose of the appraisal.

            Why is it being conducted? Is it part of a larger performance management process? Is it to identify areas of coaching/training/development? Identifying the purpose of the appraisal will aid in the development of an effective 360 tool.

2.      Evaluate and increase stakeholder/leader support.

            Are all leaders informed about the process and its importance? Are they supportive? If not, try to gain buy-in through an informational session about 360 appraisal and its benefits (financial, workload, etc). A 360 appraisal process cannot succeed without managerial and stakeholder support.

3. What behaviors/competencies/values need to be covered?

            Focus on the competencies that align with the key business drivers and current strategy/direction of the organization. If necessary, develop questions related to the competencies and a scoring scale.  Review the appraisal form with managers and subject matter experts to determine if the listed competencies are representative of the job.

4. Who will receive feedback and who will provide it?

In a 360 appraisal process, supervisors, the employees themselves, co-workers, subordinates, and possibly customers will provide feedback. In order to get the most out of the appraisal process it is important to determine which co-workers, which supervisors, and which customers or subordinates will provide feedback. In addition to the question of who will evaluate, an organization may give different weights or values to the feedback received. This should be determined prior to collecting the 360 appraisal data.

5. Do the raters know what they are rating?

Quite often, organizations will purchase 360 appraisal tools and let raters merely rate employees in whatever manner the employees choose. In order for the ratings to be effective, these raters must be able to observe performance the same way. This can be achieved through frame of reference training where trainers are taught what high, moderate, and low quality performance actually mean.

  6.  How will you communicate with the employees and managers about the appraisal process?

            Let employees know about the process, why is it being used, how it works, how it will benefit them, and what is expected from them. Communicating to the employees and managers about the appraisal process is very important. Employees and managers must be told when the 360 appraisal process will begin, what the goals are for the appraisal process, and how the process should be conducted. The results of the appraisal process must be communicated…it is very important that employees know when and how these results will be used.

7. Will there be reports and what will they look like?

            Each person receiving feedback should receive a report with aggregated information/unidentifiable open responses (except for direct feedback from their leader). The aggregated information helps keep individual responses anonymous. Having this report helps the recipient understand the feedback provided by everyone involved.

8.      Will there be a follow-up meeting?

            While receiving feedback is wonderful, reports need to be reviewed with all associates and leaders. Employees and managers should create development plans that specifically target areas of need. Provide training to leaders about how to create a developmental plan or, if this is too cumbersome, hire an external consultant to work with your organization's employees to create useful developmental plans.

9.      When will the organization provide coaching?

        The feedback report by itself will not result in sustainable behavior change unless the organization provides coaching. This coaching must be provided by either a skilled coach, a manager, or someone from human resources.

            The report should help recipients understand their strengths and highlight areas where there are opportunities to grow or improve. Many organizations see the report as the final product that will result in improved performance but sustained reminders about performance are necessary.

10.  What did you learn?

            After the 360 process is completed, there should be a process review. Not only should  feedback produce the desired changes in employee performance, but an analysis of the process of administering the 360 appraisal should be conducted. Along with this, reviewers should provide feedback about the process possibly through a short post survey.


A word of advice:  As a manual process, 360 degree feedback and the associated reporting and follow-up analytics are exceptionally time consuming. Using technology (such as HRIS systems like ADP Workforce Now or Oracle HRMS) can help automate the process, allowing companies to focus on gaining insight and driving results. If your human resources department does not have the necessary expertise, consider hiring external consultants who know how to leverage 360 performance appraisals for maximum results.