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Advanced Professional Development: A New SIOP Program for Experienced Professional Members

Rob Silzer, HR Assessment and Development, Inc./Baruch, Graduate Center CUNY

Career and Professional Development for Practitioners Committee

Chair - Lynn Collins


One of the primary objectives of any professional organization is to provide ongoing training and development programs for professional members. This is done by APA, APS, AMA, and other well-known professional organizations.  The existing system of professional licensing typically requires ongoing continuing education for professionals. 

SIOP Practitioners Needs Surveys from 2008, 2015, and 2019 have all shown that SIOP members want SIOP to provide more programs that meet their professional needs and development (Oliver, Ferro, Napper, & Porr, 2015a; Silzer, Cober, Erickson & Robinson, 2008a; Solberg & Porr, 2019).    




















In the last 3 years, the Professional Practice Committees in SIOP have worked very hard to deliver numerous development programs and resources (see Silzer, Collins, Porr, Nagy & Morris, 2019).  They have introduced 16 new programs and initiatives for practitioners and have expanded another 15 existing programs for practitioners. Table 1 outlines SIOP development programs for practitioners at different career stages, as offered by the Professional Practice portfolio and other SIOP committees.

Practitioner members over the last 10 years have repeatedly asked for additional professional development from SIOP (Ferro, Porr, Axton & Dufman, 2016; Oliver; Ferro, Napper & Porr 2015b; Silzer, Erickson, Robinson & Cober, 2008b; Solberg & Porr, 2019). In the 2008 and 2015 surveys, members specifically asked for professional development in:

  • Consulting skills
  • Individual assessment skills
  • Organizational assessment and program evaluation
  • Coaching and developing others
  • Leadership skills, such as influencing and motivating others
  • Strategic skills, such as strategic thinking and planning
  • Project management skills
  • Professional communication skills, such as presenting, writing, and speaking in organizations

Few of these professional skill and knowledge areas are taught in I-O PhD graduate programs (Nagy, 2018) and are rarely taught in post-graduate professional training. Outside of Baruch, CUNY, there are no known programs that teach practice knowledge and hands-on skills in executive coaching and individual assessment (Nagy, 2018). This is distinct from SIOP workshops which focus on knowledge in I-O content areas (Silzer & Parson, 2014). Professionals pick up the skills and knowledge in these areas on their own, (Silzer, et al, 2008a) through post graduate career experiences and typically in an unstructured way. 

Advanced Professional Development Program

In September 2018, Rob Silzer and Milt Hakel (Executive Board members) proposed an Advanced Professional Development (APD) Program (Silzer & Hakel, 2018) to provide in-depth advanced professional development for SIOP members on topics, skills, and practice areas that are central to their work. The program was unanimously approved by the SIOP Executive Board.  That approval was based on the need expressed by members, coupled with the successful pilot course offered at the 2018 SIOP Chicago conference the previous April.

This is a critical, long term, strategic initiative by SIOP that is designed to

  1. Address members’ professional development needs
  2. Engage, involve, and retain seasoned members
  3. Build the knowledge and skill level for professional members and for the profession as a whole
  4. Support the further evolution of SIOP into a leading professional organization that models our own professional advice we give to our organizational clients on how to build effective, successful, and sustainable organizations.
  5. Raise the level of professional competence among our members while also raising the competence and skill level in our profession.

2018 and 2020 Program Offerings

At the request of Gavan O’Shea, SIOP Workshop Chair (2017-2019), the Individual Leadership Assessment course was piloted at the 2018 SIOP Conference in Chicago. Five highly experienced assessment psychologists (with an average of more than 35 years of leadership assessment experience) developed and delivered the first two course modules that provided advanced assessment insights and skills building experiences. The leaders included Drs. Rob Silzer, Sandra Davis, John Fulkerson, Vicki Vandaveer, and Andrea Hunt. 

The course was designed for Practitioners with extensive leadership assessment experience. The participant group of 76 assessment psychologists (36 for Module 1 and 40 for Module 2; some participants took both modules) had an average of 15 years of assessment experience (Fulkerson & Silzer, 2018)

The course modules were the result of a collaborative effort between the five course leaders, the Professional Practice Portfolio, the SIOP Administrative staff, and the Workshop Chair and coordinators, particularly Gavan O’Shea, Rob Michel, and Alyson Margulies. The Individual Leadership Assessment course has four modules (each is a half-day session).

  • Modules 1 & 2 were offered at the 2018 SIOP Annual Conference in Chicago
    • Module 1: Overview, Assessment Competencies & Context, Designing an Assessment Process,  
    • Module 2: Leadership Assessment Interviewing skills
  • Modules 3 and 4 are being offered at the 2020 SIOP Annual Conference in Austin
    • Module 3:  The Secret Sauce: An Insider’s Guide to Assessment Interpretation and Integration
    • Module 4: From Insight to Action: Advanced Approaches for Providing Assessment Feedback and Using it for Growth and Action

Enrollment in 2018 is not a prerequisite for registering for the 2020 modules.   Participants who complete all four modules will receive a certificate indicating they completed the full course. 

Future Directions

The goal for SIOP is to offer numerous ongoing advanced professional development courses. It is expected that at least two more advanced courses will be offered in the next few years. If SIOP members continue to register for advanced professional development courses then we expect that this program will continue for many years into the future.


Ferro, M., Porr, B., Axton, T., & Dufmani, S.  (2016). Practitioner professional development: Results from the 2015 Practitioner Needs Survey.  The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 53(3), 114-124.

Fulkerson, J. & Silzer, R.  (2018).  Survey of participants in the Individual Leadership Assessment Course, Modules 1 & 2, offered at the 2018 Chicago SIOP conference. Unpublished report.

Nagy, M.  (2018). I/O Psychology Graduate Program Survey results. Conducted by SIOP Licensing and Certification Committee. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Bowling Green, OH. Unpublished report.

Oliver, J., Ferro, M., Napper, C., & Porr, B.  (2015a). 2015 SIOP Practitioners Needs Survey technical report. Bowling Green, OH: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Oliver, J., Ferro, M., Napper, C., & Porr, B.  (2015b).  Overview of the 2015 Practitioner Needs Survey.  The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 52(1), 49–56.

Silzer, R. F., Cober, R. T., Erickson, A.R., & Robinson, G.  (2008a).  Practitioner Needs Survey: Final survey report.   Bowling Green, OH: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Silzer, R., Collins, L., Porr, B., Nagy, M., & Morris M.  (2019).  Professional practice committees are working for you.  The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 57(2). https://0-www-siop-org.library.alliant.edu/Research-Publications/Items-of-Interest/ArtMID/19366/ArticleID/3164/Professional-Practice-Committees-Are-Working-for-You

Silzer, R. F., Erickson, A. R., Robinson, G., & Cober, R. T. (2008b). Practitioner professional development. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 46(2), 39–56.

Silzer, R. & Hakel, M.  (2018).  Proposal for Advanced Professional Development.  Submitted to and approved by the SIOP Executive Board, September, 2018.

Silzer, R. F., & Parson, C. (2014). SIOP work­shops: Thirty years of professional develop­ment for SIOP members. The Industrial-Orga­nizational Psychologist, 52(2), 37–46.

SIOP. (2018). Participant Evaluations of Pre-conference Individual Leadership Assessment Course, Modules 1 and 2. Society for Industrial- Organizational Psychology, Bowling Green, Ohio. Compiled by Sirota, Inc.

Solberg, E. & Porr, B.  (2019), What do practitioners want? Practitioner Survey results revealed! The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 57(2). https://0-www-siop-org.library.alliant.edu/Research-Publications/Items-of-Interest/ArticleID/3179/ArtMID/19366


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