Meeting Minutes

(By Dana Glenn, University of Houston)

December 9, Dr. Belinda Hyde, Dell Computer - Positioning Dell to Win: HR's Strategic Contribution.

Dr. Hyde presented an overview of Dell's organizational development program at the December HAIOP meeting. Her discussion focused on HR's role in enhancing overall organizational productivity and reviewed a key HR program that streamlined Dell's people management processes and contributed to recent growth. Dr. Hyde began the discussion with a chart of the business life cycle--the one that looks like a cubic function and indicates that businesses typically experience rapid growth, level off, and eventually decline. She indicated that some believed that Dell was operating in the "level" portion of the curve and desired to "jump start" it. That is to say, there was a movement among Dell's management to initiate a new curve in which growth would again take place. Four strategies were conceived to accomplish this goal: customer service, globalization, product leadership, and a winning culture. HR's role in "jump starting" the curve was to create a winning culture and to enhance personal satisfaction at work. To accomplish these goals the HR team conducted an organizational analysis in which current HR strategy and programs were examined to determine whether each was congruent with organizational goals. After the organizational analysis, HR directed its attention on the Talent Management program.

In its original state the Talent Management program identified people's strengths and areas of needed improvement and directed their career paths accordingly; it was a cumbersome process that was less than efficient. To improve program efficiency and align it with new organizational goals, the HR team implemented a number of changes. For example, quarterly performance appraisals, increased feedback between supervisor and directed reports, integration with succession planning, and increased accessibility. Initial reports indicated that the new Talent Management program is working well and has enhanced management's ability to provided challenging and rewarding career paths and employee's satisfaction with the process.


November 18, Dr. Mindy Bergman, Texas A&M University - Theoretical and practical considerations in situational judgment testing.

Dr. Bergman discussed situational judgment testing (SJT) at the November HAIOP meeting. Her presentation included a brief overview of SJT, results of two empirical SJT studies, and a summary of practical applications of SJT. SJT is a method of assessing non-cognitive abilities such as interpersonal skill and leadership. It is important to note that SJT is a methodology (which ranges from paper and pencil tests to video vignettes) and is not content specific. Research has indicated that SJT is predicative of job performance; however, the literature is equivocal as to why it works. Further, there is considerable debate within the literature regarding SJT scoring. Bergman reported that four types of scoring keys are commonly used with SJT: 1) Expert-based keys in which correct responses are based on SME ratings of response options, 2) Theory-based keys in which theory (e.g. Vroom's decision model) identifies correct responses, 3) Empirical-based keys in which options are correlated with a criterion to determine correct responses, and 4) Hybrid-based keys which are a combination of empirical and some other key. Strengths and weakness of each scoring key were discussed.

Next, Bergman reported results of two empirical studies conducted with SJT. Both studies used video vignettes that were shown during the presentation. The first study assessed leadership among 123 managers and indicated that SJT of leadership partially mediated the relation between cognitive ability and supervisor ratings of leadership. The second study assessed customer service among 148 insurance agents. Results indicated that SJT of customer service predicted supervisor ratings of customer service; SJT did not predict actual sales.

Finally, Bergman discussed some practical implications of SJT. She indicated that SJT shows promise for applied use because video-based SJT reduce adverse impact among minorities and women. In addition, preliminary results indicate that SJT is less susceptible to social desirability than traditional paper and pencil tests. Problems associated with SJT are the existence of multiple scoring keys and prohibitive costs and time required to produce high fidelity vignettes.


October 21, Jessica Bigazzi Foster, Rice University - The impact of childcare disruptions on well-being and work effectiveness: The role of social support.

Jessica Bigazzi Foster presented partial results of her dissertation, which examined day-to-day experiences of working mothers, at the October HAIOP meeting. More specifically, her presentation centered around 1) the Experience Sample Methodology (ESM) and 2) the role of social support as a moderator between frequency of childcare disruptions and psychological and work-related outcomes.
ESM was used to assess daily experiences with childcare disruptions among working mothers. The primary advantage of this new methodology is that it reduces the effects of memory loss on self-report data. The effects of memory loss are reduced with ESM because responses (both psychological and behavioral) are collected as the responses occur rather than at a later date. In addition, ESM affords the researcher the ability to randomly sample responses at intervals throughout a desired time period.

In the present study, behavioral and psychological responses were collected via Palm Pilots from 100 working mothers; all participants were employed full-time. Palm Pilots elicited responses by beeping and displaying questions at random intervals five times a day for two weeks. In addition, Palm Pilot surveys were supplemented with critical incident-style diaries, interviews, traditional surveys, and (for 33% of the participants) supervisor evaluations of performance.

Hierarchical linear modeling was used to test the hypotheses. Results indicated that childcare disruptions (e.g., phone calls, missing work, being late to work, etc.) were related to psychological outcomes such that more childcare disruptions were associated with negative affect, increased work-family conflict, and increased stress. Similarly, childcare disruptions were also related to negative work-related outcomes like decreased productivity. Interestingly, the role of social support was not so straightforward. Perceived social support did, indeed, act as a "buffer" and decreased negative psychological and work-related outcomes associated with childcare disruptions. However, perceived organizational support only decreased the negative effects of childcare disruptions on work outcomes; it did not moderate the relation between childcare disruptions and psychological outcomes.


September 9, Dr. Peter Bishop, University of Houston - Futurism and I/O Psychology

Dr. Peter Bishop presented an overview of Futurism and its relation to I/O psychology. He began the discussion with an introduction of Futurism, a perspective that, he emphasized, does not predict the future, but prepares people to deal with it effectively.

Futurism is about preparation and contingency planning, and was described as, "going on a trip and knowing that there is more than one way to get there." Accordingly, the primary goal of Futurism is to identify multiple futures, or a set of plausible alternatives. As one's set of plausible alternatives expands the more prepared he/she will be to deal with future events.

Dr. Bishop suggested that everyone has the potential to be a Futurist--even I/O Psychologists. He indicated that consultants who use a Futurist perspective will be less surprised by unusual occurrences over the course of a project, and thus, will be better prepared to deal with such challenges. Further, he indicated that the use of a Futurist perspective with clients would facilitate creativity and challenge assumptions. In addition, Dr. Bishop suggested that open discussions of plausible alternatives among members of an organization might lead to decreased aversion to change among members due to reduced uncertainty, increased voice, and increased trust in the organization.