How Occupational and Organisational Psychology underpin our services

Occupational and Organisational Psychology or Business Psychology is concerned with behaviour, ways of thinking and the use of emotions in the workplace. It is used to consider ways of assessing, motivating, developing, leading and engaging people at work. The application of psychological theory and techniques to these areas enables us to improve our understanding and management of people (including ourselves) and to develop behaviours and practices that allow them to perform to their optimum.

However, just as there is no one answer to all problems, there is no one psychological approach that is suitable for all applications. Therefore, at Zircon, we draw on, and integrate, a wide range of theory and research to inform what we offer. We apply psychology according to the needs of the client and the context of the requirements, which means that we might utilise areas of psychology that include: cognitive psychology; humanistic psychology; social psychology; psychoanalytical psychology; positive psychology; developmental psychology; personality psychology. We endeavour to keep abreast of current research and incorporate this into our solutions and service as appropriate.

Psychological theory underpins our approach to each of our key strands: Assessment, Coaching, Development, and Engagement. As we are dealing with the same base material, people, it is not surprising that there is overlap between the strands when it comes to the key psychological principles utilised. However, these are applied in practical ways, each of which might be different according to the areas and the issues being addressed. Brief examples of the kind of psychology applied in each area are given below. Please note, however, that these are not proposed solutions or exhaustive lists, but simply and indication of the kinds of factors drawn from psychology that we may consider and apply.

Objectivity – research has shown that we all tend to be biased when it comes to making judgements about people and may draw on irrational beliefs. Identifying these biases, such as the halo/horns effect or the fundamental attribution error, and instilling an awareness of them in people who assess helps to negate them.

Designed Assessment – it is essential that all assessments are based on sound principles drawn from psychological research. For example, carrying out a thorough job analysis that leads to a set of competencies reflecting the needs of the role and an Assessment designed to test these competencies.

Psychometrics – we incorporate a range of psychometric tests and questionnaires into our Assessment and these draw on a range of psychological theories, including questionnaires based on the Big 5 Personality Traits (Bright Side), the Hogan Development Survey (Dark Side) and Motivations and Values (Inside). By using a combination of these, as well as Emotional Intelligence questionnaires, we can build up a profile of an individual or team that offers a unique insight into their preferred behaviours, ways of thinking and core values.

Validation – we use our skills, honed from psychological study and research, to statistically validate Assessment, both those designed by us or those used by others. This often utilises packages such as SPSS.

Development Needs – we seek to identify key Development needs (from assessment) and utilise key psychological principles and techniques to assist in this. One such technique is Gap Analysis, which looks at the requirements of a role and the qualities of an individual and seeks to identify the differences. This enables a plan to be developed that encompasses all areas of developmental need and integrates key features of the individual’s profile. The incorporation of Emotional Intelligence and Bright and Dark Side behaviours can assist in this.

Aspects of Coaching – several areas of psychology are incorporated into our Coaching Services. For example, Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman in terms of Positive Psychology and Furnham’s views on what could cause top-performers to fail (drawn from the Dark Side indications). Other aspects that may be utilised here are Locus of Control, Emotional Intelligence and overcoming ‘defence mechanisms’ as first proposed by Freud. We may also look at key self-development points drawn from Humanistic Psychology and theory proposed by the likes of Maslow and Rogers.

Areas of Engagement – we use psychological principles to identify issues that may prevent Engagement as well as offering solutions that will promote it. Often in teams there are behaviours that act as ‘blockers’ to good teamwork and Engagement – a good way to identify these is to look at the core values and motivations of the individuals and to enable awareness in others of these. It may be that there is an ‘us and them’ mentality and principles drawn from Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory can help here. Good communication is key to engagement and psychology is well placed to inform in this area, with a wealth of research to help develop good practice, whether drawn from ‘basic’ psychological principle of understanding or from recent research into Computer Mediated Communication.

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