An industrial-organizational psychologist is a behavioral specialist who focuses specifically on the importance of behavior in the workplace environment. He or she may work with human resource managers to make a workplace more efficient by helping them improve worker motivation and attitudes. The field of industrial-organizational psychology applies the psychologists’ scientific knowledge of human behavior in order to help determine which organizational and leadership techniques are most effective for a particular place of business.
The basis of this type of psychology is the notion that a workplace is a complex social structure. Employers cannot treat the workplace like an impersonal production line if they want business goals to get accomplished because the behavioral variables of employees can affect productivity if they aren’t considered and handled correctly. Instead, employers are encouraged to take into account how people work both individually and in groups. The central belief of this type of psychology is that people who feel they are equally involved in a corporation’s process and end goals will voluntarily work harder.
An industrial-organizational psychologist will typically first work with individual employees or managers. During a one-on-one interview, the psychologist will talk to an individual to discover how he or she feels about the current methods of the workplace, as well as how he or she best learns new concepts or accomplishes tasks. The psychologist will then take the information of all the employees and managers into account and come up with ways to improve company morale.
Once the individual interviews are taken care of, the employees and managers are usually gathered together to learn the best ways to work as a group. The industrial-organizational psychologist will generally combine what he or she knows about the temperaments of the individuals in the workplace with the atmosphere of the workplace in order to come up with customized ways to make the environment more comfortable and motivational. If managers or employees have any specific issues with the workplace, the psychologist may have the group work together to come up with solutions. The entire workplace working together as a group may make everyone feel like equals and thus, feel more personally invested in the success of the workplace.
An employer may also hire an industrial-organizational psychologist as a consultant on workplace training. The psychologist may help guide managers on the best methods to use to effectively teach employees new processes. He or she may also determine if other types of training could help make a workplace more efficient and help management achieve the company’s goals.