21st February 2017

Top 3 Highlights from the DOP Conference 2017

At the Impact Consulting office we cannot believe how fast the start of 2017 has flown by! At the beginning of January we attended the Division of Occupational Psychology Conference, held in Liverpool, and we would like to spend a few moments reflecting on our time spent there.

‘Research into Practice: Relevance and Rigour’ was this year’s conference theme, which highlighted important issues over evidence-based practice, what exactly it is and how to become more evidence-based. As psychologists this issue and how to tackle it should be at the forefront of our minds and our practice.

The two days we spent there provided us with a wealth of knowledge and insight into new trends and developments within the field, from both academics and practitioners. It was a great time to meet new faces and catch up with old friends…and have some fun in the conference’s very own recreation of a Vegas casino!

We felt very inspired by those who presented and would like to share with you our top 3 highlights from the conference…

1. Sarah Lavin’s research on LMX

It was fantastic to see Impact Consulting’s very own Business Psychologist Sarah Lavin presenting her Organisational Psychology MSc. research on why we should consider developing high quality leader-follower relationships. Sarah investigated the relationship quality between leaders and followers, a.k.a the leader-member Exchange (LMX), in relation to motivation and the degree to which we are motivated to work out of engagement and interest, rather than simply for the external rewards. Sarah’s research found that high quality LMX relationships are associated with higher levels of motivation and in turn higher levels of positive outcomes, such as job satisfaction. Linking her findings to the theme of the conference, Sarah highlighted the ‘so what’ of her findings and how to translate them into practice, emphasising that LMX should be used as a framework for building positive relationships with new employees, and training leaders in behaviours that they can use to help create motivation in employees.

2. Modular approach to assessment

Professor Filip Lievens, one of the keynote speakers at the conference, presented an innovative redesign for selection and assessment. He introduced using a modular approach to assessment, which means breaking down the selection procedure into smaller components, like building blocks. These buildings blocks, for example, can relate to how information is presented to candidates, such as written or digital formats, or how candidates respond to information, such as on paper or on a PC. Prof. Lievens highlighted that these building blocks have the flexibility to be combined and structured to create a new ‘hybrid’ of selection procedures, ultimately allowing us to look at the assessment procedure in a more detailed way. Testing out this modular approach to assessment, Prof. Lievens presented his findings from two studies, based on applicants to the Dutch police. Firstly, a multimedia situational judgement test, with written and behavioural responses (via a webcam) interestingly revealed that gender biases are still prevalent for roles associated with males. Females were rated higher in the written response format (gender not known), but in the video recorded response format males were rated higher (gender known), demonstrating that a modular approach may reveal the impact of assessment methods and those designing selection procedures should be aware of such impacts. Secondly, Prof. Lievens presented a new perspective on assessment centres, by introducing 18 mini role plays in a speed dating format, which measured different competencies. This speed assessment allowed for high volume assessment and proved to be favourable by the candidates in this study. This modular approach allows for the ‘building blocks’ of assessment to be adjusted accordingly to time, costs and needs. Prof. Lievens ended the presentation emphasising the need for innovation in selection and assessment.

3. Challenges for evidence-based practice

In keeping with the conference’s theme, Rob Briner of Queen Mary University London, spoke about what evidence-based practice actually is – basing decisions about problems and solutions on the best available evidence. He highlighted that a range of different sources to gather evidence must be used, which include: academic research, practitioner expertise, key stakeholder perspectives and evidence from the local context. Rob Briner directed discussions around the room to get the audience’s opinions on how evidence-based occupational psychology is and the challenges faced in evidence-based practice. The difficulty in accessing research and data was echoed around the room, which clearly highlighted the need for better sharing of research between organisations and between academia and practitioners…a thought for the future. The key take out here is to not limit ourselves on the sources of evidence we use to solve problems in the field, and encourage the sharing of research.

At Impact Consulting we encourage the use of gathering evidence from a range of different sources. We incorporate the knowledge that our colleagues bring from their MSc’s in Organisational Psychology, we talk to key stakeholders to understand the context of our work especially in relation to selection and assessment and the bespoke work that we design with our clients, and we attend events, such as the DOP conference, to gain practitioner insights and to share our own knowledge with others. Overall, we left the conference with a buzz and excitement for what is in store for 2018’s event!

If you would like more information on our evidence-based approach or how our consultancy can help your business, please contact us: [email protected].

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