How would you describe what you do? After nearly six years as the Head of Organisational and Leadership Development for a FTSE 100 business I’ve returned to my old consultancy firm. As such I am now freer to focus on what I adore doing -…
Watch Ben introduce himself and his vision for the ABP, or read the transcript below.
My name’s Ben Williams and I’m five months in to the role of Chair for the Association for Business Psychology, which I’m really excited about having been nominated for. I’ve put together this short video to tell you a little bit about my vision. I’ve been speaking to board members, I’ve been speaking to members, about what they like about the association, what they think could be improved, where they think we should be going, and it’s now time to share some of those thoughts.
I’ve split this into three main sections; I’ll tell you a little bit about me and my values as Chair, I’ll tell you about my vision and a three-year plan for achieving it, and then finally I’ll give you some detail on what on earth I’ve been doing for the past five months.
So, I’m a Chartered Occupational Psychologist who specializes in people assessment, whether that be for recruitment or development purposes. I’m fascinated by all areas of business psychology though and that’s what’s great about this job, in that I get to meet so many of you and learn about the type of work you’re involved with. In terms of my career background it’s been mainly consultancy, you can see that I’ve been involved with just about every three-letter acronym consultancy under the sun. I was freelance for six years myself before starting Sten 10 in 2012. I’ve also lectured at universities on topics such as power and influence, communication, assessment design, and also given careers advice for students and we provide a lot of internships at Sten 10.
Motivation for volunteering
There are two main reasons why I volunteer for the ABP. The first is interest; there is no better way, in my mind, to keep up to date with the latest developments in our industry and to meet such a fascinating variety of people. The second is a concern; a concern that Occupational Psychologists are not
leading the debate on looking after, assessing and developing people in the work place. There are some fascinating things being done by data scientists, behavioural economists, AI and machine learning experts, gamification gurus; and what I want to do is to try to bring together everyone under the same discipline, drawing upon our rich heritage of evidence based practice, and lead the charge as a cohesive group to get better outcomes for people at work.
Here are some of the values that will underpin my practice as the Chair.
The first is fairness and open mindedness; I promise to give an open platform, across a whole range of different approaches to psychology at work, whether it’s the tools that you use, or the particular consultancy style or intervention that you adopt, as long as there’s an evidence base behind it. Now if there isn’t, then conceptual debate is always welcome, and I would like this to be done in a collaborative and respectful manner.
Another value is around pragmatism, so I would far favour getting things done that are 80% perfect, rather than waiting, waiting, waiting and never getting anything done until it’s near on 100%. That will need to be underpinned by evidence and measured against KPIs but pragmatism, I think, is going to be the order of the day.
I would like to be accessible and visible; I would like us to communicate with you more regularly. You may see that on LinkedIn I summarise the meetings of our board to a few bullet points because I know not everyone has the time or inclination to read through the board minutes (which are available on the website if you do want to). Almost inspired by a certain leader of the US at the moment although, please, that’s where comparisons should stop.
The final thing I would like to do as the Chair is to show gratitude; gratitude for all our volunteers, everyone who gets involved sorting out the conference and working behind the scenes for the rest of the year, for the simple love of psychology; thank you very much.
For some time now, the vision of the ABP has been to be the home and voice of business psychology. I think we’re doing really well on being the home of business psychology, but I think there’s even more we could be doing to improve our standing as being the voice of business psychology. To this end, I think there are three different pillars upon which we are going to achieve that vision.
The first is to look at our member benefits, that’s both at an individual and corporate level; to conduct a root and branch review to make it even more attractive for people who are currently members to renew, and for new members to join who are both psychologists and non-psychologists, including people from HR or those who just have a general interest in the field.
I think that we need to improve our communications and I think this will in turn attract more members. I think we need to be more outward facing with our communications and I’m really excited by the fact that we have got two new board members who have a background in just this area, Suk and Richard, and I look forward to what they’re going to be doing on that front.
I would also like us to review our processes and systems to make us more sustainable as an organisation and more efficient. All of these things I think will lead to our continued growth; at the moment we’re on around one thousand members; by the end of my three-year tenure I would like to have doubled that.
So, what’s the plan to get there? You can see on the slide some of the activities that I’ve got planned over years one, two and three. I’m not going to run through all of these, but some of the key ones that I’d like to highlight.
First of all, our board decisions; I would like us always to consider how can we use this to help raise our profile and how can we capture the process behind this initiative, so that we can help future people who conduct a similar task.
I’d also like to raise awareness of the business psychology certification which is a really exciting route to professional recognition that the ABP launched this year.
I would also like to visit our regions and show our support for people who are not London based, whether that’s going to be through virtual events or just more happening locally, so that we can really have a UK wide reach.
Finally, I would like to talk about the fact that it’s our twenty-year anniversary in 2020 and I would like to make that a really special year for the association in terms of our conference and have a whole stream of exciting activities and events planned, so any ideas very welcome.
What have I been doing for five months?
And finally, what have I been up to for the fist five months in office? There’s a selection given on the slide here, but I’ll pick out just a few. Firstly, I’ve been meeting with board members and some of our key volunteers, not only to get their suggestions for how the ABP should be run but also to find out as individuals what motivates them and what’s going to keep them engaged and contributing towards the achievement of our vision. I’ve been really excited by the introduction of our advisory board which comprises of some senior leading industry experts who work both within psychology and outside, who are going to help to challenge the management board on our direction and our thinking and initiatives, in a really valuable way.
Thirdly there’s been the conference and whilst not officially part of the conference team I obviously helped to introduce a lot of the sessions and hand out some awards to some very worthy individuals and organisations for their outstanding work in the field, and very well done again to those people.
That’s about it for me; hope you found this informative and if it’s been useful then I will try to do more of these in the future – and try to be slightly less stilted in front of the camera. Ok, thank you, bye.