What SIOP Can Teach Organizers about Inspiring Conferences

Motivated. Reinvigorated. Excited. These are not typically the words that describe me after spending three long days in a conference hotel. Something was better about my experience during this year’s Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). And for anyone planning a conference, these 4 highlights are reasons why.

  1. Bringing together research and practice under one roof.
    I admit I’m biased because one goal of Thrive Leadership is to bridge academics and practitioners to make amazing thinking and research more available to people who are trying to do amazing work in organizations. There are so many people whose work has promise for the leaders with whom we work. Take the research on leadership and flow by Mathias Simmons, Clive Fullagar, Satoris Culbertson, and Sarah Riforgiate as an example -- or the insights from Rob Silzer on whether learning agility can be learned. There was also the work on mindfulness and job recovery by Jessica Lam, Michael Mathieu, and Kevin Eschleman. And many others!
  2. Reconnecting with mentors, colleagues, collaborators, and former interns. Going back to SIOP is much like going home. Seeing people honing their expertise, finding new ways to apply their strengths, and pursuing their intellectual curiosity reminded me why we do what we do – to help people thrive. These conversations motivated me to find new opportunities to collaborate with old friends and seek out additional ways we get help each other do great work.
  3. Creating opportunities to meet new, engaged, positive, future-focused, like-minded colleagues. The real value of a conference happens outside of the formal, content-driven sessions. Besides finding opportunities to meet new people in the gray space in-between sessions, the “community of interest” sessions were very valuable at SIOP, especially the one about positive psychology and I/O (big “thank you” to Tammy Allen and Jessica Nicklin for hosting). The energy in the room was palpable with strong interest in learning how to use research related to resiliency, engagement, and strengths in the workplace. It is an excellent example of people coming together to take the rigor and methods of psychology and apply them to issues of critical relevance to business.
  4. Providing space for unadulterated professional development. Having time and space just to learn is something of a “professional vacation.” Knowing that SIOP feeds the intellectual capital of our firm, and of individual team members, is reason enough to go.