By Morrie Mullins, GOHWP Board Member
So I had an interesting, if brief, conversation with a friend I’ve known since graduate school. He was talking about the work he does with his church, and with other churches, in applying I-O principles and practices to improving how the churches run.
To me, this is fantastic! I love seeing organizations benefit from what we learn and do, and religious organizations are no less prone to recruitment, staffing, training, retention, satisfaction, motivation, change management, and other kinds of core work/I-O psychology issues than any other organization. So I asked him whether he’d thought about connecting with GOHWP about the work he’s been doing, and his response kind of floored me.
“Yeah, I thought about it – but I didn’t think they’d be open to it.”
Like I said: Kind of floored.
To me, this seems like one of the most natural connections that could be made. HWP wants to support the application of work psychology to humanitarian organizations and organizations that support humanitarian causes, and to understand the psychology of those organizations and the individuals who work with them. (You know – both H-WP and HW-P!) Religious organizations do all of that. They do outreach within and around their communities. They engage in charitable work. They organize to help people when tragedy strikes. They work for the greater good.
It just seems natural that this is an area where I-O/work psychology ought to be applied, and indeed, it IS being applied in this context. So hearing the perception that GOHWP might not be open to supporting and sharing the work that’s being done applying best practices from the research and applied literatures to religious organizations made me feel as if we’re really missing something important.
And it made me wonder, “Well, why?”
There’s nothing I’ve seen in our materials, our charter, or anywhere else that would make me feel as if we’re excluding anyone. Certainly, it’s never been my intent, or as far as I know, the intent of anyone on our Board!
There is a lot that we can learn from religious organizations, given how extensive their work with humanitarian causes is and has been, and I’d like to think that there’s a lot they can learn from us as well. Are there barriers? And if so, what are those barriers? How can we make GOHWP feel more welcoming and inclusive to ALL organizations engaged in humanitarian work and supporting humanitarian causes? How do we find our seat at the proverbial table?
We’d love to hear your thoughts about what the barriers might be, and how we can overcome them to help these organizations, that are such a key part of so many lives!
Sometimes I think we over-think and over-complicate matters. After my own mistakes and experiences I have found that simply starting with a FTF convo saying “I would like to help-here are my skills and how I could help if you need me” is quite effective. Need to be brief with message and then listen to client concerns.
I couldn’t agree more, Lisa. My personal tendency is to over-think almost everything. Thanks for the reminder and the advice! /Morrie
I appreciate your post Morrie recognizing this vital area of religious humanitarian work that has had less intersection with our I/O world. I agree with Lisa that the more we interact and offer resources and support, the more synergy might develop. I am in that space of bringing some of our principles and practices into religious leadership development. Recently my team was looking for models that present large systems change that might be applicable and offer insight and language to recognize, understand and promote innovation in religious ecosystems. I am finding the work on multiteam systems and the tasks of leaders in these systems helpful (e.g. 2012 book edited by Zaccaro, Marks, and DeChurch ). I would be grateful if others could point me to other potentially illuminating models or research lines. Thank you!
Great question – I’m interested to see what kinds of thoughts our other members may have! /Morrie