This blog’s title was a line I overheard while at a recent professional conference. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is the professional organization for people who “do what we do” here at Lodestone. Organizational Psychologists (or I/O Psychologists) have deep training in leadership development, competency assessment, coaching, organizational design, organizational culture, survey construction, employee motivation… do all these topics sound familiar? If you’re a Lodestone client, they should. I/O psychologists sit at the intersection of all things human behavior and effectiveness at work.

I had been on an approved SIOP panel for the 2020 conference, but we all know how 2020 turned out. So, our esteemed panel moderator submitted us again for 2022, we were accepted, and a band of mostly strangers—united by our work in private equity—traveled to Seattle to speak about value creation in private equity.

SIOP had over 3000 attendees. Our specific panel had a few less but was still well attended.

You don’t have to ask me twice to speak in public. Unlike 85% of the population, I get a thrill from speaking, especially on a topic I’m passionate about. In this case, it was about the value that organizational psychologists can bring to the private equity world and to their portfolio companies. Obviously, this was also an easy topic on which to speak since it’s literally the business of Lodestone. So, the panel itself was not rocket science to me, although I heard from attendees it was for many of them. Some didn’t really know what PE was. Some knew but didn’t know how to break into it. Some asked about people besides I/O psychologists who attempt to do this work, while not perfectly suited to do so. It was a great hour.

But by far, the best part of the hour for me was meeting my fellow panelists in person. Technically, we all compete for the same clients. Practically, I think we all share an abundance mentality. With 8,000+ private equity firms in the U.S. alone, more than enough work exists for each I/O psychologist on that panel and plenty more! We shared approaches, some war stories, referrals to good tools, and several laughs in the hallway. Building relationships with these smart, talented people I hadn’t previously known and sharing best practices was a highlight of that day.

Beyond my own panel, I attended several fascinating sessions, and missed several I intended to attend. I’d be on my way and see a colleague from 20 years prior and instead of continuing on to learn about p-values on new selection tools, I’d grab the colleague and a coffee and sit and catch up. And this year, perhaps owing to the separation brought on by COVID, or to the years that have passed as I’m in the second half of my career, we really caught up. In three cases, a quick hello turned into 60 or 90 minutes of deep and meaningful conversation.

Professional conferences, or any meeting really, can be about content. But don’t let the content prevent you from deepening relationships. So often the real value comes not from the meeting itself, but from the hallway conversation before or after. The sale comes not from the amazing PowerPoint presentation of your services, but from the trust built in nurturing relationships with decision makers. This is not to discount our training, our research, or our psychometrics—these make us stand out favorably as compared to others who try to dabble in our work. But rather, the combination of our science along with who we are (scientists being only one facet of each of us) is what makes us compelling to our clients and colleagues.

So as one psychologist on an escalator so aptly put it, “sure, I’m here for the science… but mostly I’m here for the scientists.” For more information about Lodestone’s scientific approach to HR, please visit our about page.

About the author : Sandy Fiaschetti, Ph.D