The IOP Champion Challenge:
You don’t need to be a CEO to choose your own champion
What is one of the biggest challenges faced by South African IOP’s on a daily basis? It’s none of the usual answers you might expect. I’ve narrowed it down, you see, to one main problem: extinction.
I conducted a bit of an experiment this year. Over the last few years, after the many SIOPSA presentations and university talks trying to define what IOP is, and trying to cement this identity into the current IOP’s in practice, I wanted to know if it actually worked. Do we know who we are? Do we know what the profession is? Are we ashamed of our titles? Do we hide behind acronyms, synonyms, and ambiguous hyperboles? Or do we now know who we are…
You see, the downfall to the challenge is that we face extinction. The challenge itself is something else entirely.
The easiest way to find this out is to give a scenario and then ask a question. So here’s my (not so short) experiment’s scenario: You, a boisterous IOP with a good work-life balance, find yourself at a friend’s braai. You don’t quite know a lot of people, so you’re mingling by the fire to get your grasp over the attendees, beverage in hand so that you look like you have something to do. From what you have heard, you’re surrounded by quite a few engineers, there’s a teacher or two in the mix, and there’s also a vet who is regaling the fireplace with a loud and somewhat abrasive story of a calf-birth-gone-wrong. With everyone laughing, including you, a few people notice your presence. You get dragged into the conversation, and now they want to know who you are, how you know the host, and what’s your spirit animal. Most importantly, they want to know what do you do?
And here my scenario ends. How, dear IOP, do you respond?
The problem with all of the effort that we’ve put into IOP identity exploration and clarification, is that we’ve strapped on bars to a moving cage. IOP’s in South Africa are still growing and learning what kind of tree they are – never mind the fact that we know we have roots. We know our history – but we have a fundamental problem in that we do not know who is leading us. We do not know who are our role models, our idols, our champions!
And now I’m not talking about the historic IOP’s (of whom I struggle to name any off of the top of my head). I’m talking about the leaders of today. I’m talking about the IOP’s who can stand in front of our profession and herald in a new dawn – one that fights the very fabric that threatens our existence. We are more than just what we have become. We are meant to be a community! We are meant to know each other! Be seen, be heard, be outspoken! The reason why someone at a braai or social gathering needs to ask “what is an IOP” is actually a catastrophe! Why, if we are the pinnacle tools to support human performance in organisations, are we not known??
As IOP’s, it should not come as a surprise for me to say that in order to know where you are going, you need to know what you have. This is standard talent management 101. So, what IOP’s do we currently have, stepping into the role of champion? I’m not talking about the current MD’s and CEO’s of companies – I’m talking about that young thing that doesn’t seem to have a stop button – that just keeps on taking hit after hit and coming up better and stronger. I’m talking about the future champions who are unafraid to challenge our status quo. Every company has them somewhere – this is a decree to give them a chance to be seen and heard. By knowing our champions, who they are, what they stand for, their visions for themselves within the profession, we can garner a feel for our profession’s future! We can identify the gaps that we will need to fill considering external forces such as technology, changing legislation, political manoeuvrings, and economic globalisation. We will know what our future holds as a profession. Never mind what we are now! What will we be in years to come??
We need to make a noise! We need to let SA know that we are here, that we have the tools and knowledge – and most importantly foresight – to help our country. To be better for the tomorrow’s of the tomorrows! To take a step away from the cold bureaucracy of competitive professionalisation and become a self-governed community of uplifting support structures – filled with people who we know from name and face, who we can approach without fear of reproach, and above all filled with those who we can look up to.
Who are our champions?? This is a challenge, in as much as a plea. I am an avid follower. I like to please, I like to perform, and I like to be acknowledged. I need a leader. I need a team of leaders. I need to know who these people are, what they stand for, why they got into this field, and where they want to go with it. I want to be able to say that we have a united energy as IOP professionals, even if we may not have a united front.
I want to know. And if I want to know, then that means that other young IOP’s also want to know. Who are these people leading us? Where do they see us going? Who are their follow-ups?? If they had to choose (hunger games style) who their successor champion was – who would it be? Who is the future of SA IOP? Find a way to let us all know! Tell us, show us, use social media, use email, tell SIOPSA, share! This, the community of SA IOP, I ask of you: do you take up the IOP Champion Challenge?
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If you’ve got a champion in mind, hashtag them on social media (#IOPChampionChallenge) to nominate them. The idea is to tell the world more about our awesome Industrial Organisational Psychologists, and the fact that we mean business in the 2018 year to come!
Wonderwhiterabbit hopping off
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