Effective Human Resource Management and Psychology

Image Credit: http://www.franklin.edu/blog/masters-in-human-resource-management-should-i-do-it/
The world of commerce is a dynamic and engaging field.  It encompasses the fields of management, marketing, finance, information technology, operations/production and more.  It is important to note that in any organization, be it profit or not-for-profit, people are at its core.  These people could be the organization’s employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, just to name a few.  Since business organizations need people, this also poses the realization that in running a business, there is always the need for effective human resource management.

Image Credit: http://education.kilroy.net/fields-of-study/business/human-resource-management
One of the activities involved in human resource management is selecting the best candidates from a pool of applicants.  Human resource management also involves wages and salaries administration, labor relations, employee training and development, and many others.  Normally, companies would post advertisements of job vacancies in newspapers and in their websites. In the field of human resource management, organizations will be in need of employees who are ideally a good fit to the business.  Taking into consideration their educational attainment, background, and experience, applicants or ideal candidates offer their valuable time and skills in helping the organization achieve its vision and mission in exchange for just and equitable compensation package.   Now, how do you find the people who would best fit your organization?  This is where a sufficient knowledge of psychology will come in handy.

In some companies, it has become a standard practice to administer a battery of exams to applicants to gauge their skills, particularly in language and mathematics.  Psychologists term this as cognitive skills.  After which, the applicants are then given personality tests.  One classic example of which is the 16PF which stands for 16 Personality Factors.  This test will reveal the personality types of an organization’s applicants.  Thus, human resource managers will be able to identify which applicant is best suited to which job.  For example, marketing professionals who are engaged in direct selling will be most likely to be extroverted than data analysts.  Stereotypical as it may sound, extroverted individuals are energized when they are surrounded by people while introverted individuals tend to be more effective and more energized when they are not surrounded by a lot of people.  Another test called the MBTI or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is another test that basically serves the same purpose.  In human resource management, career counselling is another field that requires sufficient and functional knowledge of psychology.  In high-stress or high-pressure jobs, it is important to safeguard the mental and emotional well-being of one’s employees.  In such occupations, employees may manifest various issues such as anxiety and depression.  Given the nature of their high stress occupation, having employees suffer from such issues is potentially detrimental to the company’s productivity and organizational culture.  This may result to absenteeism, frequent and habitual tardiness, and low self-esteem.  Thus, it is also important to help employees cope with the stress and demands of the job by allowing to decompress and look after themselves.   Again, sufficient knowledge of psychology to help one’s employees and workers is of great importance.

Having people at the heart of one’s business is a complicated and daunting responsibility.  Organizations are composed of people and the economy is run by individuals coming from different backgrounds.  So what is the common thread that will help organizations, societies and managers achieve their goals?  It is a good understanding of one’s people.  And such can not be achieved without learning and digesting psychology.

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This is an invited post by Dr Frederick Halcon, an established researcher and academic from the Philippines. Below is his bio-data:
Dr. Frederick A. Halcon is a Contractual Lecturer at Far Eastern University Manila.  He was the former Dean of the School of Business of iACADEMY in Makati City, Philippines.  He was also a Lecturer of the Raffles College of Higher Education in Singapore and has taught at Assumption College, St. Scholastica's College, De La Salle University, and Adamson University in the Philippines.  His research interests include social responsibility, business education, operations research, and environmental economics.  He specializes in the case study as a research method.  In his spare time, he loves listening to music, watching movies and travelling all over Southeast Asia.
See his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jfahalcon7.  He is contactable via jfahalcon7@yahoo.com.

Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 2)

Psychology is one of the rapid growing fields in South East Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.  There has been a significant increase in Psychology students and mental health professionals in the related fields of psychology.  ASEAN Psychologists also started to work together to form ASEAN region of Psychology community, providing support for each other.  One of the most significant happenings is reflected by the biennial ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) Congress held in the respective countries, where different psychologists from different Asian countries come together for this great event.  With these collaborations happening in South East Asia, we hope that they can bring more and more insights or useful information for our readers to have a better understanding towards this fast developing field, especially for those who wish to pursue their studies or careers in Psychology.

Once again, MY Psychology collaborated with SG Psych Stuff for another opportunity for co-writing, to share with you some of our insights into the Psychology field, brought to you by Tim and JY, guest writers from MY Psych, and SG Psych Stud from SG Psych Stuff.
Click here to read Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 1):

Adapted from https://www.unicaf.org
Q4:  What is the common career paths of Psychology graduates in your country?

JY [MY Psych]:
Human resource, consultants, counselors, therapists, trainers, life coaches, teachers and educators in general. those who are interested in research often end up in market research.

SG Psych Stud:
This is very hard to say, as different people might take different career paths.
From: http://sgpsychstuff.blogspot.sg/2015/10/career-planning-psychcareer.html
Your Career =  Your Psychological Knowledge and Skills + Your Speciality
The conclusion on types of jobs from a previous 2011 post was "It also depends on your level of skills and knowledge which you have gained through your degrees, and your past work experience."  It is typical and reasonable that recent graduates have a general psychology degree, and lack of psychological-related work experience.  However, everyone is different, equipped with different skills!
We need to know and understand our own knowledge, skills, abilities, and strengths such that we can use that to our benefit towards getting our ideal jobs.  Hence other than the general psychological knowledge that you obtain from the degree, I would advise that you obtain or have another specialty (which is based on your current interest, skills or abilities).

Adapted from http://images.wisegeek.com
Q5:  Can I become a Psychologist after completing my Psychology degree?

JY [MY Psych]:
Short answer is yes; long answer is no.  As of now there are no associations regulating the use of the title "Psychologist" in Malaysia, creating quite a lot of questionable practices from the field.  But when it comes to international presence, it is assumed that one does not claim the title of psychologist until one finishes a Masters or a doctorate degree.  The counseling field is regulated by a board however.

Adapted from http://tcs-cdn.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com
SG Psych Stud: 
With the Allied Health Professionals Act enforced in 2011, it will be enforced that all clinical psychologists may have to be registered, with one of the main criteria of being registered with the Singapore Register of Psychologists.  This would mean that all clinical psychologists would need a postgraduate qualification as well as at least 1000 supervised practicum hours.

With the National Psychology Competency Framework announced during the recent SPS AGM 2016, there will definitely be a national framework that regulates the competency standards of practicing psychologists.

With all these in place on a national level, a undergraduate degree will definitely not be enough for you to become a psychologist, though some companies will take Honours students as “Associate Psychologists”.

Adapted from http://www.startdoingit.com
Q6:  What are the challenges of the Psychology field in your country?

SG Psych Stud:
I think ultimately it is the prestige and recognition of the profession in the country. This has been brought up before in this 2011 post.

There is a high level of interest from students in recent years, due to the positive psychology movement, high humanistic interest to understand oneself, and the mysterious factor of the work of a psychologist.  However, there is not enough public knowledge of what we really do as psychologists.  The general mindset is still of the work related to mental illnesses, but that is not the case for all psychologists.

There is also currently no accreditation of psychology programs in Singapore. Read: http://sgpsychstuff.blogspot.sg/2014/07/what-we-need-now-SGpsychtraining.html

With no accreditation council in Singapore, it is very difficult to verify whether the programs are of high quality and standardised and whether they will suffice for students to move up to the next levels of education and training.
With proper accreditation of programs and a national registration of psychologists, this will definitely improve the clarity of training pathways for current budding psychologists and push the profession to a high level of recognition and prestige among other professions.

Adapted from http://i.huffpost.com
Tim [My Psych]:
I think one challenge would be that the general public still has not fully opened up to psychology.  The various achievements and milestones made in the field of psychology are still quite confined within the context of academia and universities, which is ironic considering that the findings of most psychological research are supposed to benefit the general populace, not just students of psychology.  I believe that this calls for a push to spread awareness and to enlighten the public on what is going on in the field of psychology, and to explain to them why it is so important.

On a related note, there still seems to be a prevalent perception that psychologists dabble exclusively in dealing with mental illnesses, which of course is a significant facet of psychology, but not its sole purpose.  The mandate of psychology is to understand all aspects of the human condition, and to find ways of improving our lives in those various aspects.  It would perhaps be beneficial if people begin to realize that the study of psychology permeates different fields, from social studies to cyberpsychology, from cognition to media psychology.  In other words, the role of psychology is relevant across a whole spectrum of fields, not just in mental health.  If this idea is properly conveyed to the general populace, that perhaps may open up more avenues to psychologists to better serve people.

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Authors information:
Tan Jia Yue, codenamed JY:  A s̶e̶l̶f̶-̶p̶r̶o̶c̶l̶a̶i̶m̶e̶d time traveler from a dystopian future who settled down in the present hoping to change its course.  Suffering from time-machine lag, he struggles to blend in with peasants of the present and manages to find his way into HELP University’s BPsych programme while picking up a taste for mellow music, video games, anime, inappropriate attempts at jokes, and tea.  Having d̶e̶l̶u̶s̶i̶o̶n̶s visions of humanity’s bleak future, he believes the key to a better future lies in the education of the sciences, psychology, humanism, and cat videos.  Follow his personal ramblings at A Certain Astral Project;ion.

Timothy Liew:  A trueborn kid at heart with a penchant for lame jokes of every kind, Tim enjoys lazy afternoons with coffee in one hand and a good fantasy book in the other.  Having hailed from an imaginary world, he believes in mankind’s inherent duality, and has thus embarked on a quest to uncover the hidden truths of the human mind, armed with the regalia of psychology, philosophy and uncommon sense.  Has a soft spot for plushies and baby animals.

SG Psych Stud [SG Psych Stuff]:  My role in the Singapore psychological arena is to be a critical observer and reporter of what is happening in our small psychology world here.  With a passion for psychology, I am purely writing this blog for students, so my target audience would be current and prospective students of psychology.  This is all in the hope to improve psychology in Singapore and assist students in their journeys in psychology.  If you are interested in psychology and/or wish to pursue a career in psychology, i.e. to be a psychologist or any other related career, in Singapore and surrounding countries in Southeast Asia, and like my blog, please 'Like' and 'Follow' SG Psych Stuff Facebook page (fb.com/sgpsychstuff). Thanks!

Insight into Psychology in Malaysia and Singapore: MY Psychology + SG Psych Stuff (Part 1)

Image Credit: http://onlinecareertips.com/2014/01/the-ritz-carlton-way-starts-with-exceptional-communication/
Psychology is one of the rapid growing fields in South East Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.  There has been a significant increase in Psychology students and mental health professionals in the related fields of psychology.  ASEAN Psychologists also started to work together to form ASEAN region of Psychology community, providing support for each other.  One of the most significant happenings is reflected by the biennial ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) Congress held in the respective countries, where different psychologists from different Asian countries come together for this great event.  With these collaborations happening in South East Asia, we hope that they can bring more and more insights or useful information for our readers to have a better understanding towards this fast developing field, especially for those who wish to pursue their studies or careers in Psychology.

Once again, MY Psychology collaborated with SG Psych Stuff for another opportunity for co-writing, to share with you some of our insights into the Psychology field, brought to you by Tim and JY, guest writers from MY Psych, and SG Psych Stud from SG Psych Stuff.


Adapted from https://i.ytimg.com
Q1:  What are some common misconceptions by students about Psychology degrees in your country?

JY [MY Psych]:  
Studying Psychology doesn’t require mathematical knowledge, is all about reading body language and mind reading, alongside with knowing a lot on abnormal behaviours.  There is also those who are completely ignorant about research and thinks that Google, Wikipedia and sensationalist websites are good sources.

SG Psych Stud:  
There are students who would enter the programs with these common misconceptions:
  • Studying psychology is interesting.
  • Psychology is not a science, so students will study less of theories or mathematics related modules.
  • After studying psychology, students will be able to read or understand people’s mind (or behaviour).
  • Studying psychology will help you achieve self-understanding of your own personalities
  • You will be able to counsel people after a degree, or even become a counsellor or psychologist.
Retrieved from http://www.waldorf.edu/
 Q2:  Could you briefly describe the essence of the Psychology degree in your country?  What is the main focus of the course?

JY [MY Psych]:  
I cannot speak for every university.  In HELP University, there is a lot of emphasis on research methods after students have built a solid foundation on the introductory psychology knowledge.  Students are left to our own initiatives to develop their own interests even though it won’t be specified by the degree.  Research topics included experimental models, statistical tests, mixed method designs, etc.  With that being said, it seems like child psychology is a growing trendy of study in Malaysia, considering we have more lecturers interested in child and developmental psychology than other fields.

Tim [MY Psych]:  
Like JY has mentioned, the psychology course in HELP University puts a heavy emphasis on nurturing our knowledge and skills in research methods.  Starting even from the second semester of our freshman year, students are required to conduct literature reviews, propose a study, collect data and run simple statistical analyses.  Gradually, students learnt to conduct different types of studies as they receive training in differing kinds of research such as quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods designs.  The reason for conducting so many studies even before the final thesis is because the teaching staff hope that students are able to carry out research that can not only expand their understanding of human beings, but also improve people’s lives.

SG Psych Stud: 
This really depends on the universities and their respective programs.
Refer to the list of undergraduate degrees in Singapore including private programs:

For the private programs:  The Australian programs may tend to be more towards clinical psychology.  The UK programs may tend to be more general psychology.  The US programs tend to be more towards the liberal arts.  Do note that for the Australian and UK Honours programs, an Honours thesis may be required in the last year.

For the local programs:  The NUS, NTU, and UniSIM are more similar to the Australian programs, while SMU and Yale-NUS are more similar to the US programs.  Please refer to the reflection stories of the undergraduate students under 2) Life as an undergraduate student.

Retrieved from http://www.worcester.ac.uk
Q3:  What are the knowledges and skills that a Psychology graduate can learn from a degree?  Some people might think that we can become a real counsellor after completing a degree.

JY [MY Psych]:  
I think critical thinking is the greatest asset we have.  Knowing how our behaviour and cognition works doesn’t change a person as much as most think, but this understanding of behaviour and cognition makes us consider carefully before making our minds and acting in a more scientific manner since we are aware on the cognitive processes involved.
For some of us, it even develops empathy and patience as we practice counselling skills and qualitative research, making us more aware of each other’s different perspectives.  For me, I think I get to reflect more about philosophical issues, e.g. world views, etc.

Tim [MY Psych]:  
The psychology course at HELP University puts emphasis on expanding our exposure to the different theories and trains of thoughts that surround a particular phenomenon.  Lecturers often like to introduce a host of different theories and have students discuss the distinctions between those theories and how the weaknesses of one are compensated by the other.  This encourages us to make critical and thoughtful comparisons between theories, as well as reminding us that it is often the case that no one theory can completely explain a phenomenon on its own.

To complement our theoretical knowledge, the lecturers often champion the importance of practicality, and the assignments they give us often have a practical element in them.  For example, for our Human Factors class, we are required to analyse and devise ways of improving the usability of a product or service, such as the interface of a website or gadget.  For classes such as our Social Psychology or Learning Disability class, the assignment entails the application of theories in creating interventions for minority populations or students with disabilities.  The interventions don’t just stay on paper though; the lecturers would often encourage implementing the intervention in real life, which students are usually quite enthusiastic about.  I think this underscores the fact that learning psychology doesn’t stop at understanding human thoughts and behaviours, it often embodies the philosophy of finding innovative ways of helping people lead better lives.

SG Psych Stud: 
I have just written about this in a recent postIn summary, there are two main things a student can gain from a psychology degree:
  1. Gaining a new perspective
  2. Gaining better communication skills
Gaining a new perspective:
Studying the different modules in a psychology program allows a person to develop more rational and critical thinking.  This changes in thinking allows him/her to take up different perspectives and hypotheses when discussing different topics and/or issues.  With this psychology training, one may tend to look at the world and life a bit differently.

Gaining better communication skills:
This skills are mostly developed in the counselling modules.  Benefits of these skills include better engagement with others, higher chances of convincing others, having better clarity in the communication, and developing stronger rapport and relationships with others.

At the undergraduate level, information that you learnt from the books and lectures may seem to be unrelated; however when you reach the postgraduate level, more in-depth knowledge and skills would be taught such that all these may intermingle to develop you into a better therapist.


Image Credit: http://www.istockphoto.com/vector/cartoon-scientist-with-thought-bubble-professor-teacher-gm165812763-19518726?st=88db679
To be continued....Stay tuned for Part 2!!!!

SGPsychStud: Time to Check your New Year's Resolution!!!

Image Credit: http://www.igeeksblog.com/best-new-year-resolution-apps-for-iphone-ipad/
Have you been sticking to your new year's resolution that you have set earlier this year or late last year?  A quarter of this year (January to March) has gone, so you should have at least done some things this year!  Have you done anything yet??  I have previously wrote in 2014 about the SMARTER strategy of setting up the resolution  and some tips to keep to your new year's resolution.

Have you been keeping to it / them??
It's time to check them!!!

Image Credit: http://www.top10base.com/best-tips-achieving-new-year-resolutions-list/
If you have achieved what you have planned, good for you!!!  However, is it time to evaluate and review it to make it more challenging??
This post is targeted to help those who have not achieved or have been progressively working towards their goals and/or New Year's resolutions.

If you have yet to start your plan or yet to achieve what you have planned for this quarter, you may want to investigate why that is the case.
Why are you hesitating towards your goal that you have initially planned? 
Using the Transtheoretical model from Motivational Interviewing, you need to first understand which stage of change you are currently at.

 THE STAGES OF CHANGE  Sample of tasks to complete 
  •  Pre-contemplation (not interested)
  • Acknowledge problem
  • Evaluate self-regulation of feelings, thoughts, behavior
  • Contemplation (considering pros and cons of change)
  • Conduct risk-reward analysis
  • Decide to act
  • Preparation (beginning to increase self-regulation)
  • Set goals and priorities
  • Develop change-plan
  • Action (modifying problem behavior)
  • Implement plan and revise as needed
  • Behavior change for 6 months
  • Maintenance (sustaining accomplishments)
  • Consolidate change into lifestyle
Table from: http://www.centerforebp.case.edu/stories/stages-of-change-co-creator-carlo-diclemente-discusses-practical-applications-of-his-transtheoretical-model-for-health-wellness-and-recovery

The next steps that you should also consider are the your:
  • Decisional Balance
    • This is the balance between the pros and cons in making that decision towards the goal or New Year's resolution.  
    • Does the pros overweight the cons enough such that you are determined to do it?  Or does the the cons overweight the pros such that you are still hesitant on starting on your goal?  
  • Self-efficacy
    • Do you have the ability to take action?  
    • Having self-efficacy or the ability and resources to reach your goal will help in your self-initiation and responsibility towards making that change.
  • Envisioning change
    • Have you envisioned the change and state you would be if you achieve that goal or resolution?
    • Envisioning change produces forward thinking of possible changes that you could have if you achieve that goal and creates motivation and commitment towards your goal.
  • Involvement of significant others 
    • Have you told anyone or involved them in your goal or New Year's resolution?
    • If others are told of your change, you may develop a sense of commitment to that change that you have proposed.  So go tell someone today!
Try out to understand which stage of change you are in and try to do these abovementioned steps!
You will achieve your New Year's resolution!! 

SGPsychStud: Two Reasons Why Everyone Should Study Psychology


Image Credit: http://www.istockphoto.com/vector/cartoon-scientist-with-thought-bubble-professor-teacher-gm165812763-19518726?st=88db679
"What?!! Everyone should study Psychology? Why?"
You might be thinking the above questions right?  Yes.  Everyone should study Psychology, or at least a few modules related to counselling.

In the last 10 years, there has been a large increase in the number of people studying psychology or being interested in psychology.  This may be due to an increased number of people who have achieved the first two levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (as below) and seeking the other top 3 levels.  This phenomenon could be due to an increase in their socioeconomic status, hence allowing them to achieve the first two levels easily.


However, why should everyone study psychology?  Here are the reasons:
  1. Gaining a new perspective
  2. Gaining better communication skills
Image credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ZDD48bLLsFc/maxresdefault.jpg
In arguments and conflicts, the root cause in miscommunication.  This has already been discussed in detail in this November 2015 post.  However, miscommunication can be greatly reduced if (a) everyone understands the other person's point of view or perspective and (b) have better communication skills.

Gaining a new perspective
As mentioned before in a previous 2011 post, studying the different modules in a psychology program allows a person to develop more rational and critical thinking.  This changes in thinking allows him/her to take up different perspectives and hypotheses when discussing different topics and/or issues.  With this psychology training, one may tend to look at the world and life a bit differently.

Gaining better communication skills
How do we gain better communication skills?  This skills are mostly developed in the counselling modules.  Benefits of these skills include better engagement with others, higher chances of convincing others, having better clarity in the communication, and developing stronger rapport and relationships with others.
As non-verbal communication accounts for 93% of our communication with others, it is important that we note our non-verbal communication during our dialogues.  The skills include active  and reflecting listening, as well as displaying empathic responses.

To learn more about active and reflecting, please visit: http://www.angelfire.com/nc/psalm91/skills.html
Recommended books:
Egan, G. (2013). The skilled helper: A problem-management and opportunity-development approach to helping (10th edn.). California, USA: Brooks/Cole
Ivey, A. E., Ivey M. B., & Zalaquett, C. P. (2013). Intentional interviewing and counseling: Facilitating client development in a multicultural society (8th edn.). California, USA: Brooks/Cole