In contrast, the organizational side of the equation refers to areas that focus on maximizing organizational performance. Those working with organizational psychology typically focus on interpersonal relationships at work, the role of individual differences as they influence organizations, group and team dynamics, leadership, organizational development and change.
But, Sparks added, the and are thoroughly interrelated and connected by common statistical methods. Therefore, a knowledge of statistics, psychometrics, quantitative and qualitative research methods is imperative. For example, once an individual is assessed and selected for a specific job – an “I” function - then the organization might identify that person as highly capable, qualifying that individual for a leadership development program – an “O” function.
Charmon Parker Williams, president of Parker Williams Consulting, agrees that learning empirically based, industrial methodologies is an integral part of the I/O field, and also essential for career advancement in today's economy. I/O professionals today need to be generalists, she said, not specialists.
Parker Williams, who received her PhD from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and has worked in I/O psychology for 30 years, defines a generalist as someone capable of working on both the industrial and organizational sides of the field. She said that an I/O psychology graduate today might start out working in a testing or selection center, move into recruiting or executive search, and then move into compensation. Being able to work on a variety of projects on both sides of the I/O equation is the key to staying marketable, she emphasized.
Parker Williams' own career path exemplifies flexibility. She has worked for the government, in private industry, and now as the owner of her own consulting firm. As a graduate student, she held two internships that she credits with giving her hands-on experience, and eventually a full-time position after graduation.
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