When business accelerates, the management team must act responsively to keep the growth on the right track and ensure sustainable growth and long-term profitability. A strategic approach starts from assessing current situation and business requirements. Hired by an organization, industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists review and evaluate business operations, employee capabilities, and work conditions in order to identify key issues in work environments and critical demands on human capital.
I/O psychologists utilize various methods and tools to collect data and analyze issues and problems of the workplace. Depending on the business type, orientation, and scale, an I/O psychologist may choose survey, observation, case studies, archival research, and so forth to investigate the workforce, workplace, management, and operations. According to Levy (2010), an I/O psychologist can wield a naturalistic observation technique through which he or she “unobtrusively and objectively observes individuals but does not try to blend in with them” (p. 36). In case studies, I/O psychologists usually exam an individual, a team or a division of the company, or conduct interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) of a specific business function in order to drill down a perceived problem. Archival research is a helpful method used a great deal by I/O psychologists. This method relies on secondary data sets previously collected by individuals or organizations for the purpose of research on general or specific topics (Levy, 2010). In this case, I/O psychologists may use data from research on other rapid-growth companies in the same industry for comparative study, which may help to identify similar problems and lead to proven solutions.
The I/O investigation can discover specific issues and demands caused by business growth which may be driven by different factors. For example, the growth driven by increased sales may require investment in new equipment and expansion of workforce on production lines; innovation oriented growth would need to acquire new talents for support in research and development; for growth by globalization, the company would likely call for enhancement in many key areas such as international marketing and sales, public relations, and financial management. In many cases, the pain of rapid growth lays on a key business area where there is a shortage of human capital to meet ever increasing demands. Once the key area is determined, I/O psychologists should further conduct detailed job analysis and design new positions to fulfill the demands of business growth.
Levy, P. E. (2010). Industrial/organizational psychology: Understanding the workplace (3rd ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.