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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Monday, November 1, 2010

From I/O Psychologist to HR Generalist (Part 2 of 2)

Summary by: Ian B. Mondrow, M.A.

Shifting into an Human Resource (HR) can be a benefit for both the Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychologist and the organization. It allows an opportunity for the Psychologist to learn about the organization and develop future skills. As an HR Generalist, an I/O Psychologist can learn about the organizations operations and then return to the organizational development department with new skills and insight about the business.

Shifting into this position can be a bit of a challenge because an I/O Psychologist may not have the background to address all questions and concerns. While the information can be found in the company, the Psychologist will experience a dramatic learning curve.  One drastic change for Industrial/Organizational Psychologist is loss of power and/or resources. Generalists often have to assume many responsibilities and may need to designate Specialists to assist them, unfortunately, a Generalist has limited control as to how he/she can utilize a specialist. This is a shock for many Psychologists who are use being viewed as the expert in an area and having control. Furthermore, they must learn to let go of their I/O background as it is not required for all HR Functions (but useful in staffing and other areas). An I/O Psychologist should also that HR uses different terminology and it would be helpful to familiarize oneself with the differences.

Although the previous paragraphs have focused on the downsides of the Generalist role, there are many advantages. First of all, the interaction with people will grow dramatically. Plus an HR Generalist interacts with people from different departments on a regular basis. Furthermore, the position offers a variety of Career paths including becoming a specialist or working towards a Director position. The role also have higher levels of compensation with tenure.

Being an HR Generalist is not a challenge for an individual with a background in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Instead, it is when one shifts from an I/O Psychology focused career into HR. Much of their responsibilities and interactions change as a result of this shift and the individual must learn to adapt to these roles. It is important to emphasize that I/O Psychologists make excellent HR Generalist. This article focuses on individuals that have been in the I/O Psychology field and want to shift into a HR Generalist role.

Original Source: Martin, S.L., Latham, V.M. (2010). Moving into an HR generalist roll: a good career move? The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist. 47(4), 29-34.

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