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AIM TEAM2/13/20 7:51 AM5 min read

Five Reasons Why Organizations Should Invest in a Business Psychologist

Most companies don’t hesitate to invest in new technologies. There’s an assumption that if you want to keep up with the pack, you need to invest in the latest hardware, the best software, and the top talent to run these machines. But even in an age of automation, no business can thrive on technologies alone. 

People still matter. Some analysts believe that people and people skills matter more now than ever before. As observed in a recent McKinsey & Company post, “As automation and artificial intelligence dramatically change the nature of work, employees must fine-tune the social and emotional abilities machines cannot master.” Of course, like technologies, sometimes even the very best people need support to operate at their very best. This is where business psychologists enter the picture. 

Despite common assumptions, in most cases, business psychologists don’t show up to put out fires. They are often brought into an organization to mitigate a problem before it blows up. However, the most successful leaders don’t even need a problem or pending problem to engage with a business psychologist. The best leaders know that a business psychologist can also help them find efficiencies and optimize their performance even when they already feel like they are at the top of their game. 

While there are many reasons that leaders turn to business psychologists, two reasons stand out. First, it can be challenging to see yourself and get perspective. Simply put, you can’t paint a chair if you’re sitting in it. As trusted advisors, business psychologists help their clients get perspective. They do this by speaking the truth and being candid and fully transparent about what they observe. Second, life can be lonely at the top. In fact, close to half of CEOs report experiencing loneliness, and over 60% say it has an impact on their performance. Business psychologists not only help leaders navigate their often-isolated and high-stakes positions but also are there to call leaders out on things they may be unwilling to face. 

Business psychologists hold great potential to make leaders better, and you don’t need to be in crisis to turn to one for help. But if you’re an executive, how do you persuade your boss to invest in a business psychologist? And, if you’re a CEO, how do you convince your board that a business psychologist is a legitimate and necessary expense? Below, I outline four compelling reasons why organizations should invest in a business psychologist.

Business Psychologists Help the Best Leader Have More Impact 

The number one reason leaders work with business psychologists is to have more impact. In my experience, business psychologists help leaders have more impact–and in the process, drive revenues–on at least four essential levels:

  • Bandwidth Management: In today’s always-on workplace, most people struggle to manage their bandwidth. Failing to manage bandwidth can have grave consequences. Without bandwidth, you’re likely not well-positioned to respond to crises when and if they arise. You may also struggle to set priorities, delegate, and engage in other critical tasks as a leader.
  • Perspective Taking: If you want to get out of the weeds, sometimes you need a helping hand. Business psychologists offer a second set of eyes and are skilled at helping their clients take perspective.
  • Working Smarter, Not Harder: Working smarter, not harder is the best way to reclaim time, energy, and one’s work/life balance. It may be as simple as identifying new systems to streamline one’s work or learning how to delegate to the right people at the right moment
  • Awareness: As a revered leader, people on your team may be reluctant to call you out, even when you fumble. Business psychologists help leaders build awareness. This includes identifying behaviors that are no longer working to support one’s brand or organization. 

Business Psychologists Help Optimize Teams

A recent Microsoft study found that we are on twice as many teams (or working groups) as we were just five years ago. While teams and more ad hoc working groups are a great way to drive innovation, the reality is that these groups don’t always click, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t click. Again, this is a crucial area where business psychologists can help. Business psychologists help teams and working groups with:  

  • Trust and transparency building
  • Navigation of healthy conflict and debate
  • Decision making
  • Alliance building
  • Bandwidth building

Business Psychologists Offer insight on Bench Strength

It can be difficult to have conversations about bench strength. It means stepping back to identify gaps and shortcomings on your team and across your organization. It also means getting a line of sight on opportunities (e.g., identifying high potential candidates working below capacity). As deeply invested outsiders, business psychologists are well-positioned to help leaders identify opportunities to build bench strength and to make the difficult decisions involved in this work (e.g., helping facilitate necessary exits). 

Business Psychologists Are Change Management Experts

Before change management became a catchword, business psychologists were already managing change. Leaders understand their industry, market, and client demands best. Business psychologists complement leaders by providing other types of insights. Specifically, they know how to navigate the changes that are most likely to lead to heightened levels of friction or eroded trust (e.g., mergers).  

Leaders create plans–business psychologists these plans by helping engage key stakeholders. Again, they do this on many levels: 

  • Trust building 
  • Facilitation of conflict
  • Optimization (ensuring the right talent is present to drive change)
  • Assessment (offering perspective on the scalability and sustainability of the change)
  • Priority mapping 
  • Mission building (i.e., helping clients link change to a shared purpose or mandate

Business Psychologists Anticipate Problems Before They Arise 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, business psychologists can help anticipate problems before they even arise. Because business psychologists are trained to help leaders engage in perspective-taking (i.e., stepping back to get a line of sight on what is really going on) and are positioned to ask hard questions, they can force leaders to address things that are just “below the surface” and about to blow. 

To learn more about how a business psychologist can help you and your organization achieve more, contact AIM Leadership for a consultation.