Listen on Apple Podcasts
Yellow lego style character headphones

110: What Does a Business Psychologist Actually Do? Featuring Dr Hayley Lewis and Paula Brockwell

This week we’re finally asking the question that many of you, at this point, might be afraid to ask

Like this?

Join 112,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!


Welcome back to Truth, Lies and Work! The award-winning psychology podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.

This week, we’re addressing the elephant in the room and finally asking the question that many of you, at this point, might be afraid to ask:

What is a business psychologist anyway?

Key Talking Points:

  • What is a business psychologist and how is it different from other types of psychologists?
  • What do these workplace psychologists do?
  • How do I pick a credible expert?
  • What should I expect working with a business psychologist?
  • Case Study: A brief case study of a culture change, and an example of how not to do it, brought to you, perhaps ironically, by the British Psychological Society.

Guest Information:

To help us answer these questions and more, we’re thrilled to welcome Dr Hayley Lewis and Paula Brockwell to the show.

Dr. Hayley Lewis:

Dr. Hayley Lewis is a chartered Occupational Psychologist and coaching psychologist who specialises in leadership development. She is also famous for her sketch notes, simplifying complex psychological concepts one doodle at a time! Find out more and connect with Hayley here:

Paula Brockwell:

Paula Brockwell is a chartered Occupational Psychologist and expert in organisational culture and employee experience. She offers invaluable insights into impactful culture changes and addressing root causes of workplace issues. Find out more and connect with Paul here:


All the links mentioned in the show.

Connect with your hosts

Related Episodes

Loved this episode? Here are some more you might like:

πŸ’¬ Want a chat about your workplace culture?

πŸ“£ Got feedback/questions/guest suggestions? Email

πŸ‘ Like this kinda stuff? Click here to subscribe…

The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

Like this?

Join 112,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!


Leanne Elliott: Welcome to Truth, Lies and Work, the award winning psychology podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I am a business psychologist.

Al Elliott: There’s a reason why Leanne that, she’s, uh, she’s not had an episode. My name is Al. I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott: We are here to help you simplify the science of work.

Al Elliott: We’re also here to help you simplify something else, which is exactly what Leanne alluded to a second ago. So welcome to the Thursday episode where we have these in depth interviews. We’ve got a couple of great guests for you today. If you’ve not checked out our Tuesday episode, then we have, it’s just a bit more like a magazine show.

So we have the news roundup and then we have a surprise segment in the middle and then the world, world famous weekly world place. I need to learn. I need to change the fricking

Leanne Elliott: name. We have the workplace

Al Elliott: surgery where I put your questions to Leanne and she answers them.

Leanne Elliott: Yes, so welcome to Thursday’s episode.

Al Elliott: Today, we are calling out the elephant in the room. We are finally asking the question that at this point, you might be afraid to ask what is a business psychologist?

Leanne Elliott: Yes, you have heard me introduce myself as a business psychologist. Now, I’m For exactly 110 times. Um, and there’s only one episode actually back from 2022 that explains what a business psychologist is.

And that is my origin story. Um, episode 17, if you’re interested, uh, you probably heard it called other stuff too, looking around online or in the workplace, maybe you’ve heard of an organizational psychologist, an occupational psychologist or a work psychologist, and then you’re probably wondering, isn’t it all just HR?

Well, today we are answering all of those questions for you.

Al Elliott: Yes, we’ll be asking what is a business psychologist and how is it different from other flavors of psychologist? We’re gonna be asking what do these workplace psychologists actually do? Thirdly, how do I pick a credible expert? And fourthly, what should I expect when I’m working with a business psychologist?

Since we’ve launched our Tuesday episode, we’ve answered a lot of questions related to choosing a career or navigating a career transition. So we’ll also touch on how to become a psychologist.

Leanne Elliott: Yep. And finally, we’ll walk you through a brief case study of culture change and an example of how not to do it brought to you perhaps ironically by the British Psychological Society, but more on that beef later.

We have two awesome guests joining us today to help us answer all of these questions and probably a couple more. First, let’s meet Dr. Hayley Lewis. Hayley is a charted coaching psychologist and HCPC registered occupational psychologist. See, we’re throwing terms at you already. They will be explained.

Hayley is also program director for the MRes Professional Practice in Occupational Psychology at Birkbeck University in the UK and is a lecturer at City University of London. She’s also a renowned sketchnote doodler and proud pracademic. She is committed to making psychology accessible. Let’s meet Hayley.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: I’m Hayley. Thanks for having me on the podcast. Um, I am an. Well, I like to say I’ve got dual citizenship at the British Psychological Society. So I’m a, an occupational psychologist and a coaching psychologist. I’ve been in the field 25 years. Um, but during that time I haven’t always been in psychology roles.

I, I’ve spent time in leadership and management roles in the public sector. I think probably now at this point, I’m most famous for my sketch notes. Um, yeah, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t drop me a line about them or ask me about them or request a copy of a certain sketchnote. Um, yeah. Uh, and when I go to conferences or when I’m teaching students, they’ll go, Oh, you’re the one who does the sketchnotes.

So yeah, that’s probably what I’m now most famous for as a psychologist.

Al Elliott: Our second guest is Paula Brockwell. Paula is a chartered occupational psychologist, culture strategist and coach. She was lead psychologist at Robertson Cooper. That is, we’ve had Sir Kerry Cooper on the pod. He is the grandfather, the OG.

And in 2018, she founded the Employee Experience Project, where she pioneers an evidence based approach to upskilling and supporting strategic HR leaders to deliver impactful cultural change. Let’s go meet Paula.

Paula Brockwell: Yeah, well, I’m Paula Brockwell. Um, what do I do? Um, I help people have great experiences at work.

But really with a focus on supporting businesses to, to really succeed by creating environments where people can bring the best they can to work. It’s an awesome job. Um, and what am I famous for? Well, it depends what circles really, um, around Sheffield’s Way. I’m known for my specialism for helping ladies over 70s get either start running for the first time or get back into it after a long break.

So that’s probably a story for another time, but yeah, that’s one of my favorite things to do.

Al Elliott: We will be coming back to Paula later in the episode as she shares a case study for culture change. But for now, let’s start at the beginning. We asked Haley, what is a business psychologist and how is it different to an occupational psychologist or an organizational psychologist or a work psychologist?

Dr. Hayley Lewis: They’re not different. They’re, they’re all part of the same family. So occupational psychology is about the science, uh, of the workplace. So understanding kind of what makes individuals, teams, and whole organizations tick. There are five. kind of core areas of occupational psychology. So, and anybody training as an occupational psychologist will need to demonstrate their proficiency across all five areas.

So, uh, we’re taught about psychological assessment at work. So that covers everything around personality testing, assessment centers, selection, wellbeing at work. Uh, which is, which is really kind of gained traction over the last, uh, few years. Certainly well being at work wasn’t a core requirement when I trained back in 1999.

Um, but that’s about kind of health and wellbeing in the workplace, mental health, kind of wellbeing, resilience. There’s leadership, engagement and motivation, which is my day to day work. So everything from. How we support leaders at an individual level, how we design, deliver and evaluate the effectiveness of leadership development interventions, how we motivate people so they can do their best work and kind of be their best selves.

Um, there’s learning, training and development. Um. Which is the fourth area, uh, which does exactly what it says on the tin. And then there’s work design, organizational development and change. So, um, that can be everything from redesigning processes and systems all the way up to kind of Big, whole scale, um, whole system, culture change, um, or supporting organizations with mergers and acquisitions.

So it’s such a rich and diverse, uh, profession.

Al Elliott: So business psychologists, organizational psychologists, occupational psychologists, work psychologists, they all work in the same field and across those five core areas, including recruitment, training, and organizational development. So how is this different from HR?


Dr. Hayley Lewis: think to date, what’s differentiated us is as occupational psychologists, kind of the backbone of what we do is about evidence based practice. So designing things with a really good evidence base, looking across. The different range of evidence, everything from scientific studies through to kind of what stakeholders are saying through to what expert professionals are saying to what the context is saying.

Um, but in recent years, we’ve seen more and more come online to support HR professionals to be more evidence based. So what differentiated us, I think we’ve now got in common, I think, HR for a long time. Um, I think. In terms of traditional HR, there’s still that focus on, um, employee relations, um, kind of protecting the organization and protecting employees rights.

So engagement with unions, uh, making sure there are good policies and processes in place, um, the, the kind of the mechanics around, um, employee rights, everything from kind of grievances and disciplinaries and, and, and kind of, and then the mechanics around change, such as, you know, if there’s a two P transfer and all that stuff, that, that stuff, typically occupational psychologists won’t get involved in, we might work alongside and in partnership with HR.

Uh, so if I think about work that I’ve done with, with HR colleagues, they would be working on the, the kind of, the, the kind of the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions and the contractual arrangements that need to be changed for staff and the terms and conditions. And then my role was around the kind of psychological support that can be put in place for staff may be affected by a merger or acquisition.

And we’re kind of two halves of the same coin. Um, If you like

Leanne Elliott: in the UK, there are two main organizations that represent psychologists and assess levels of practice. They are the British psychological society or the BPS and the association for business psychology or the ABP. This leads us to our first.

Tip, if you are looking for an expert, check if they have membership to these organizations and be sure you understand what their level of membership means. Because pretty much anyone can be an associate member of an organization or an association. Whereas other levels require proof of knowledge and or experience.

So for example, under the ABP, I’ve achieved the certified business psychologist status. The BPS represents all psychology, not just my field. So here’s more from Haley on how this. And how it can help to protect you when you’re choosing an expert. At

Dr. Hayley Lewis: its heart, the society is responsible for ensuring the high quality of the profession.

and through that the high quality of education of psychologists. That’s it in a nutshell. It doesn’t say it should be responsible for delivering that education, but it is responsible for ensuring various programs around the UK operate at the required standards and kind of overseeing that. And then alongside that, you know, supporting professional development of psychologists.

Al Elliott: Now, this is important because again, it gives us another clue as to how to pick a credible expert. In the UK people in the field of business psychology or organizational psychology have three levels of training they can progress through to have their practice recognized by this BPS. Remember that’s the British Psychological Society.

First is an undergraduate degree in psychology. The second is a master’s degree in organizational psychology. And finally, it’s a chartership within the BPS. We’re going to come back to chartership shortly.

Leanne Elliott: It’s also a sense that these courses, these undergrad postdoc courses are BPS accredited, which means they’ve met.

Rigorous criteria. It’s a hallmark of quality. And that leads us to tip number two, check where your experts studied and if that course was accredited by the BPS. That is a list of accredited courses on the BPS website. If you want to see if your expert completed an accredited course. Of course, a big caveat here, the BPS also recognizes other routes.

Um, for example, if you did a history degree, you can complete a postgraduate conversion course, and then go on to complete an accredited master’s program. And so on. There’s lots of different variations. We’re trying to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible here. BPS website or get in touch and we’ll help you explore your options.

Al Elliott: Okay, let’s just recap what we know so far. Business psychologists, organizational psychologists, and work psychologists are interchangeable titles to describe a profession that applies psychology or behavioral science to the workplace. All are going to be likely to work within five core areas, as mentioned, which are, just to remind you, psychological assessment and work, including recruitment, learning, training, and development, Wellbeing, organizational development and change, and finally the fifth one, leadership, motivation, and engagement.

Leanne Elliott: Yep. Geography may also make a difference in terms of what people choose to be called. So in the U S industrial and organizational psychologist tends to be the dominant title, uh, just for example, and of course how different countries regulate the field will influence the titles that are used here is Haley to explain how this works in the UK.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: I think the reason why we get people referring to themselves as work psychologists or organizational psychologists is because of the rules and regulations. So legally you can only call yourself an occupational psychologist if you are chartered and registered with the health. and care professions council.

So it’s a legally protected title. And so if I’m not chartered, if I’m not registered, the way I get around that is by calling myself a work psychologist or an organisational psychologist, because there are no legal ramifications.

Leanne Elliott: Now this is a key difference. In the UK, Becoming an occupational psychologist requires you to achieve chartered status with the British Psychological Society.

The use of chartership is legally restricted, so much like a chartered accountant or a chartered engineer. To become chartered, you need to undertake what the BPS calls Stage 2 training, which is a practice based, doctoral level qualification. Basically proving that as a psychologist, your practice, your project work with clients is at a doctorate level.

Once you’ve achieved this qualification, you’re then eligible to become a registered psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council or the HCPC. And when you have both, you’re legally allowed to use the title of occupational psychologist. So in really simple terms, if a practitioner is calling themselves an occupational psychologist, they have demonstrated their competence at the highest level in all five core areas of workplace psychology, which leads us to tip three.

If you’re looking for the best of the best, choose an occupational psychologist. If you’re saying to

Al Elliott: yourself, hang on a minute, I didn’t know any of this and don’t worry, you’re not alone because I didn’t know this until I met Leanne. I were thought that if someone was a psychologist, or called themselves a psychologist, they were legit.

That’s not always the case. Anyone, qualified or not, can call themselves a psychologist, and some do. Hayley explained that this is a critical issue, and one that many psychologists are trying to address.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: I think we’ve protected the wrong bit of the title. So in Australia, for example, Australia and New Zealand, they’re really strict.

They’ve protected the term psychologist. You cannot call yourself a psychologist unless you’ve met the kind of the the the The education and skills requirements. For me, it always comes back to who are we protecting and why? And for me, we should be protecting the public. We should be helping the public make a really informed decision about who they are hiring, who they are paying for and what credentials they have.

Now, look, I’m not saying just because somebody’s an HCPC registered. than a charter psychologist, that they’re better. We know that there can be some quite dodgy practices out there, but I think particularly if somebody’s an HCPC registered psychologist, there is recourse for a member of the public to take action, to make a complaint, and to be protected to some degree.

You may also have

Leanne Elliott: noticed that some psychologists at work Also doctors like Dr. Haley. How does this work? Well, in really basic terms, being a registered psychologist with the HCPC refers to a standard in applied psychology or psychological practice. Getting a doctorate is research based. Burke Beck is one of the only universities in the UK that offers what is called a professional doctorate, a course that enables students to become a doctor, a chartered, and an HCPC registered psychologist all in one bumper course.

Here’s Haley to explain more

Dr. Hayley Lewis: so the EM a is the first part of the professional doctorate. So to, to get on the EMREs, um, you need to have already done your undergrad and you need to have done your MSC in a BPS accredited. occupational psychology or equivalent program. So the MRes is the equivalent of the the BPS Stage 2 qualification.

I did the BPS where you’re kind of on your own, you have your supervisor, but it can be quite, it can feel quite lonely. Whereas the MRes program, the reasons that People say they choose to do that one is because they want the community. They want that kind of wraparound, uh, support, but it is really the community and the network that, that maybe you don’t get.

Um, and so, uh, the MRes is two years, uh, our, our trainees are producing six practice log books. They do an assessed presentation. And, um, and they can either end there and at the end of that they are HTPC registered psychologists, which is the legal regulatory, and I think sometimes the more important bit, or they can apply.

To part two, which is where you do your doctoral thesis. And at the end of part two, you are, if you pass your Viva. So you produce a 55, 000 word thesis. You do two big empirical studies. You do a Viva where you’re put through your paces for often two to three hours by two professors. Um, And you defend your doctoral thesis, uh, and if you pass that, then you are conferred the title of doctor and you get your chartered psychologist status.

So it’s a four to five year journey, uh, and the MRes is the first part of that.

Al Elliott: Okay, Leah, at this point, I think we should ask the important question. You call yourself a certified business psychologist. Why?

Leanne Elliott: Well, a few reasons. One, people know what it means, or they think they know what it means. And it’s also kind of just a nice little intro to the podcast, isn’t it?

Business psychologist, business owner, and people get it. Second, when, when I graduated, I was working in industry and coaching and management roles. Um, so chartership wasn’t required, um, or even necessary in terms of qualification. When I went self employed, I thought it was a good opportunity to consolidate my experience, um, and prove to the world and myself, I’m being honest, um, that I was operating at a doctorate level at the level of an occupational psychologist.

Um, and I am. Chartership takes a long time. Um, typically case study projects are 6 to 12 months in length and you need to undertake research as part of that. Um, I started in 2020 and I’ve just completed this month. Um, I was hoping actually to introduce myself in the episode as an occupational psychologist.

Um, but the paperwork is taking a little while and as we’ve heard for legal reasons, I’m not able to do that. And we have a content calendar to adhere to Al. Um, so there you go. Very soon I will be introducing myself as an occupational psychologist, Or a charter psychologist or a registered psychologist or none of them.

Um, I’m thinking that marketing, I might prefer simply business psychologist.

Al Elliott: Maybe

Leanne Elliott: there is another important reason. Of course. Um, it means that my clients can be reassured that I’m operating at the highest level and I’m regulated, which means they’re protective. If I mess up, there are professional and potentially legal consequences.

And as an individual, it means that my career may also be future proofed. Here’s Hayley to explain a bit more.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: We know the regulatory landscape is ever evolving. And I think that I think we’re going to see some big changes in the next 10 years, particularly. in coaching. Cause this is something I get asked a lot.

So, so I run my business, but also I have a part time academic role, uh, running the first part of the professional doctorate at Birkbeck. And whenever, whenever people reach out to talk about coming onto the doctorate and the investment, the time, the money, the energy, they kind of asked me what the benefits are.

And I always talk about your, you’re protecting yourself. And your professional identity in the long term in the light of potential regulatory changes. So, um, I think it’s going to become increasingly difficult to tout your services as a coach. If you don’t certain regulation, you don’t have certain qualifications behind you.

I think it’s going to become increasingly difficult to tout your services. In the field of occupational organizational work, business, whatever you want to call it, uh, psychology. If you don’t, HCPC registration, for example, if you’re not a chartered member of the BPS.

Al Elliott: Now we know what an occupational psychologist is and how to pick a credible expert.

Let’s explore for a second what it’s like to work with them. I want to start by understanding why and when you might need to engage an occupational psychologist.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: I think a good occupational psychologist who is always working on their continuing professional development, um, will bring a depth of understanding of scientific slash research approaches, uh, to projects and work, but also a really good, understanding of psychological concepts that can be helpful for clients in a way potentially that other professionals are less likely to have.

So I’ll give you an example. So I was asked to give a keynote talk for a public sector organization on change. Um, and there’s lots of change experts out there. My take on it was around the psychology of change. And I, I shared Some tools and techniques that I’ve learned as a psychologist and I use and apply, uh, which are underpinned by, um, cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.

Things that maybe other change practitioners are maybe less likely to draw upon. Um, And that actually led to some other work. So somebody attended that, that talk and then got in touch because their organization is being disbanded. It’s a major change. The organization is an arm’s length organization in the public sector.

Um, it’s having a big psychological impact on the staff and the chief executive of this organization that’s closing actually wanted change support. Thanks. for their staff, uh, from a psychologist because she really liked some of the deep techniques that I shared.

Al Elliott: Hayley also explained that occupational psychologists are obsessed with solving the root cause of the problem.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: Yeah. Again, I think it’s that rigor, that rigorous approach, evidence and research. So, and knowing how to design. really good diagnostics. I think, I think that’s one of the things that differentiates us. I think about, and you might, you’ll have heard of them, no doubt. Um, so you’ve got Dr. Rachel Lewis and Dr.

Joanna Yarker of Affinity Health have been doing a groundbreaking work around mental health, physical health, well being, burnout in the workplace. Uh, their library of resources on their website is phenomenal and it’s underpinned by exceptional research based approaches to supporting organizations. So their research supports organizations in dealing with the root causes, not the symptoms.

And I think all too often I will see maybe practitioners who are not in our field respond to a client’s request that deals with the symptom. I’ll give you an example. Um, during the pandemic, not a week went by when, uh, particularly in the second to third year, not a week went by when I didn’t have an organization reach out and say, could you run some resilience training for our staff?

Or could you run some. Uh, wellbeing training. And my question always to the organization is why, what’s, what’s the needs analysis? Can I see the needs analysis that sits behind this? I also, I also ask them what else is going on in the organization, uh, that is supporting a healthy workplace culture?

Because nine times out of ten, there wasn’t any of that. And actually it was all being put at the door of individuals. The reason you’re stressed is you, you just can’t cope. And so we’re going to put you through sheep dip resilience training or sheep dip, well being training. And actually it fails to deal with the fact it’s not the individual.

It’s because jobs have been cut, but the work hasn’t gone anywhere. And now you’ve got a person doing the role of two or three people. No human can do that. And so. I think as psychologists, yes, we can support the individual, but we also do work to find out what else is going on in the system, uh, and to really pin down what the root causes are, and then we can create interventions that get to the heart of that and help with that.

Leanne Elliott: This is probably the most important thing to focus on when you’re choosing an expert. Choose somebody who asks lots of questions first. They do some exploration, investigation, and then offer you a solution. As psychologists, our practices are driven by ethics and we won’t offer you a solution unless we’re confident it will have an impact and do no harm.

We too at Oblong have turned our clients if we think we’re not convinced by their intentions.

Al Elliott: This leads us nicely into our case study with uh, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Paula Brockwell. I interviewed Paula a few weeks ago and we covered everything from arsehole bosses to major change programs.

I want to join the interview when I’m asking Paula about her experience with organizations that address the symptoms rather than the root cause. So I saw something on, I think you post on linked in recently about, um, a manager who was kicking off because he or she, I don’t think identified, um, had implemented a mindfulness app, bought it for everyone and then was still was still hadn’t seen any kind of results from it.

Why are you working harder? Why aren’t you getting better? Have I got that story right? Tell us the story behind it. To

Paula Brockwell: be honest, it’s a bit more of a poke at the, a lot of my time in boardrooms, whenever I worked at Robertson Cooper, where, um, you know, the, the kind of, it’s a lot, it’s a lot in the culture world, whether it’s wellbeing or not, where people ask you to come in and do culture work.

You look at the whole system and you say, look, this is what’s broken. And they go, yeah, but look, I bought this bandage and I’ve put it over. And why is that not having the effect? You know, why is that person still bleeding out? Cause I put, I put a Superman spider over that gaping wound that, um, that that broken fence gave them and I make them walk past that fence every day and they scratch themselves every day, but they’re still moaning that, and I gave them a whole Spider Man sticker, you know, I think it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s.

It’s that is endemic, I think, in the, in the culture change space, whether that’s wellbeing based, whether it’s kind of more, the more broader space that I work in now. Um, and I’ve been really, honestly, I think the work that I’ve been doing over the last, um, six years in the employee experience project has been a little bit, well, sleep deprivation fuel because I had a couple of kids during that time, but like rage fueled, honestly, acting out my, I’m not playing this game anymore.

I’m not coming home and thinking. Have I helped there or have I just enabled this broken system to badge those people up, you know, bandage them up and send them back out again. So our approach is, um, I only work with clients now where we’re saying, let’s step back, look at the whole ecosystem, know what your ideal culture is and where you’re trying to go and make sure that’s positively referenced.

And then let’s step back and look at the whole ecosystem. And that doesn’t mean we unpick the whole business at once, but let’s start making meaningful change to the true bits of the, the, the true drivers of culture, rather than just. Buy in mindfulness apps, which, you know, might help, might help some people some of the time, but it’s not going to solve a chronic culture of over engagement and overwhelm.

You know, it’s never going to solve that problem. So yeah, you’ve got, you kind of, you probably picked up on my, um, my Sarky comments that I do via gnomes on LinkedIn in the hope that it makes me seem like I’m less grumpy about the whole thing.

Al Elliott: Nothing wrong with being grumpy. You just said that the it’s not necessarily the drivers of culture.

So. What are the drivers of culture? Give me an example of how I know I’m got to get these drivers of culture in place.

Paula Brockwell: So we dashboard them. I honestly, I, I think that one of the things that I learned through my, um, years of culture consultancy was that most of us as consultants have got really used to having a really kind of inherent understanding of those in the back of our heads.

And we go through and we see the data, but we create these reliant relationships with organizations where we’re like, let’s run it through the black box and here’s the four or five things that you need to do. And so I decided. That I was going to get whatever that black box was out of my own head, um, and did a thematic analysis across, I think it was 52 in the end, 52 different cultural inquiries that I’d done over the course of my career, looking at, well, what are the things that we most report most action on?

And where’s the D what’s the data telling us? And I built a dashboard off that, which identifies four areas, really four pillars that you can work with. And they’ve all got subcategories in there, but one of them’s leadership tone. So. What, how are your leaders showing up? What examples are they showing, but also what choices are they making around strategic planning, resourcing, et cetera, that absolutely influences how it feels in our business and what the rules of engagement are.

A piece around management capability and, um, and kind of, um, action. So what does that look like? Um, and how, I guess, how’s the shadow of the leader playing out in those managers and what capability do they have and what, what microclimate are they creating within their own particular areas? I think there’s a massive bit then about colleagues, which is, comes down to, um, a lot of it’s about their narrative about of organization.

So what’s the stories that they tell themselves, what’s important to them, how much connection do they have to the organization, um, et cetera. And then the other thing. The final pillar for us is really around systems and processes. So how you have the actions, views, um, behaviors of those other three groups really started to embed themselves into the organization.

Because one of the things I really notice. Is that businesses will do a lot of, they often really focus on the manager. If we just tree in this out of them without thinking about, well, what are the leaders actually telling them to do and rewarding them on and making it possible for them to do. But one of the things we really don’t pay attention to is, but what systems and processes are they caught in?

So we’re telling them to take more personal responsibility. As an example, that’s a big bug bear with a lot of organizations that I work with that they just never step up and do anything. Um, but if we’ve given them a delegated authority line that they can only sign off 500 quid budget, because we’ve got an over controlling leadership team that decided that 10 years ago and kind of forgot about it, then we’re never going to drive that personal responsibility because from, you know, give them as much training as we want and show them as many values that have got something about personal responsibility and forging ahead and bravery in there.

If the leadership team is, is actively suppressing them, maybe unconsciously, but actively suppressing them with their behavior and the systems and processes are forcing them to double check everything and sign it off 47 times. You’re never going to activate that group into personal responsibility. So that’s my view around really how you take that more systemic approach to looking at those micro behaviors that either you want to eradicate or you want to encourage and say, and we’ll, let’s look across the whole system and say, where is it helping or hindering?

Those behaviors from happening and then starting to re engineer all of that, that, you know, making small shifts in all of that ecosystem. So it adds up to something that makes it really natural for people to take personal responsibility rather than fighting against it. So it’s, you know, I don’t work with organizations that just want to put a mindfulness nap in or mindfulness.

App in try that. Um, or, um, just one of you come and do a team day because everybody’s a bit miserable. I think, I guess it’s the psychology training in me. I see that there is cause and effect. We, we make decisions, we give behavioral cues, we create opportunities, and that makes the behavior of our colleagues.

Pretty much like a one plus one equals two. So if we want a different number out of the end of the equation, we’ve got to change the numbers going into that equation to make that happen. Um, it’s not something, you know, people don’t just come to work to be rubbish. There is typically something in the environment that is encouraging those behaviors and making them functional.

Al Elliott: I love that people don’t come to work to be rubbish. I love that. So you’re a chartered occupational psych, psychologist, fancy letters after your name, all kinds of bits and pieces. But what about those people who potentially can’t afford to bring someone like you in or want to just test the water before they actually invest in someone like that?

Are there some simple, let’s keep it simple. So someone who doesn’t understand necessarily all the fancy words that, that psychologists know, what are some of the simple things they can do to either make a quick improvement so they can prove there’s, there’s a way that they can invest in it or just do something if they can’t, haven’t got the money.

Paula Brockwell: I think the first step is always going to be what, how do we want it to be around here from a leadership point of view? What is it that we need to get from people? And then have a conversation with your staff about how you get that really listen and do some quick wins with them. So it depends on your, if I’m honest, it depends on your starting point.

My default is always, as soon as. possible, activate your whole business around being the change that they seek. But it really depends on the history of listening, trust and, and a kind of colleagues feeling like they can be safe enough and they’ve got the permission to do something different. So if you’re already in that place, that you’re just a bit stuck, you know, you’re, you live in a country.

Generally got that sense of listening and trust and kind of safety, but things have just got a bit stuck. I’d be saying, set your standards. This is how we want people to behave around here. This is how we want it to be around here. And this is how we want people to feel. I think that’s an important part of it as well.

The emotional piece. So. Do that little bit of thinking and work in line with your strategy and where you’re going. And then really quickly get out with colleagues and say, how do we do this? What do we do? And listen to people, give them the space to do some of those things. If it’s within their gift, ask them to do it and praise them and support them and remove the blockers for them to do it.

But if it’s a bigger business problem, listen and fix it and fix it really light and show people that you’re fixing it in a light way, and I think in doing that, you build trust that something can be different and you’re encouraging people to do things differently and it’ll start to move things forward.

So at all points, you’ve just got to build that sense of momentum and agency with people and get them going. But there’s no point in just doing some stuff. It’s got to make sense, which is why I say start with that. This is how we want it to be around here to achieve this in our strategy, because then that makes sense to people.

It’s not just like, Oh, more pizzas. Okay. Let’s, let’s see what we can do around that.

Al Elliott: Use the phrase that I really liked, fix it loud. Um, now can you. I think I understand what it means, but can you explain what that means, why it’s important? And if you have an example of someone who’s fixed it loud, that’d be phenomenal.

Paula Brockwell: Yeah, absolutely. So fix it live for me is, is a by, well, a few things really, really consciously accepting and acknowledging that there has been a challenge and a pressure point that’s impacted colleagues there. So you’re showing people that you hear them and you understand their experience. And then, um, As you do whatever the re engineering or the fixing is, you are telling people what you’re doing, but also the impact that it’s having.

So I’m not saying do this in a survey. You said we did way. Um, I’m saying do this in a, you said, look what we’re up to. And we’re asking you to get involved in, look at the impact that it’s had. Look at the next stage. So really talking to people about the flow through and the impact so that you’re building that sense of they are listening, they are helping, they are doing the difficult things that are going to make a difference.

And so it’s really about that. That narrative and story the whole way through to, to really make things make sense. And I’m not just stopping at the bit of, well, we’re going to do it. We’ve heard it and I were planning to do it, but this is how we followed through on the plan. And this is the impact that it had, I think is massively important.

I’m doing that as lightly as possible. Um, and I suppose an example to give you an organization that I worked with probably about 18 months ago, massively kind of. Bureaucratic, all of their systems had become really caught and multifaceted. And, um, just people ended up going round in circles and they didn’t know who owned what.

And they had a real issue with their purchasing process. So that’s the, you know, I make the joke about the 500 quid sign off, but they had that issue of literally, you know, a business of about 1800 people. And the highest budget line sign off was 50. Um, 500 quid and the rest went to the exec. Like they probably, they must’ve just been signing, um, purchasing receipts for, you know, 92 percent of their time.

I don’t know, anyway. So what they did was they had to look at that process, the delegated authority process around budgeting. They very visibly raised that level around, um, kind of what level of budget people could sign off on. But also they looked at the process for onboarding suppliers and managing suppliers and massively reduced the cost.

to the amount of admin harassment. That’s what, that’s how the business experienced it and barriers that people had to fear. So this was a day to day pain point for the rest of the business, where the risk management of the system had got in control of something that really was blocking people’s ability to just focus on their day job and get things done.

And they just pulled it apart and fixed it in a, um, it was a bite and eat week. Period. We planned it as a six week sprint, but it took about eight weeks in the end to really get it right. But it really made a difference. And people saw visibly, okay, we’re willing to tackle the really tough things and we’re willing to, um, we’re willing to let go of things that have been really painful for a long time to make sure that we can move forward.

And it built a huge amount of goodwill and trust and just an everyday reminder to people that every time. They touched that system, which people did a lot, um, given what the business did, that, um, every time they touched that system, it was suddenly easier. And it gave them a daily reminder that actually the business was serious about this change.

So it’s, you know, it’s not just about how you do it. It’s about picking some of the visible stuff that is continual pinpoints, because then you’re giving people that continual bump of emotion and reminder of trust that you’re actually doing something differently. That’s best practice change management.

Leanne Elliott: We can also learn a lot from how not to. After I spoke to Dr. Haley, the BPS announced a significant change in how occupational psychologists will be trained and supported in the UK. This was an unexpected change, and it really did send shockwaves through the office. Occupational psychology community as program director at Beck Haley isn’t privy to the changes made by the BPS, but she does have skin in the game.

Not only is an occupational psychologist herself, but as an educator, so I reached out to Haley after this announcement and picked up another conversation.

Al Elliott: Right? You might be listening and thinking this next bit doesn’t affect me, and I’ve heard enough, and you could well be right. If all you wanted to know was the difference between HR, business, occupational, organizational, psychologist, then you can stop listening and you can go and have a cup of tea.

However, if you are going to recruit an expert, then it’s likely you’re going to result in having to implement some change. So this final segment is going to be a great masterclass on getting it wrong.

Leanne Elliott: Yes, for those in the psychology world, this is what the kids call a hot take. For everyone else, this is how not to manage change.

Let’s join the conversation where I’m asking Hayley to talk us through the BPS’s decision. There has been a significant change in the British Psychological Society, the organisation that holds the standard for occupational psychologists and training in the UK. For anyone who isn’t aware, can you maybe take us through what the changes is, the timeline of events?

Dr. Hayley Lewis: I’m as on the outside as, as you are, and as, as many of the listeners are, but What, what we do know, and the BPS did put a formal announcement out last week, eventually. The proposal is to scrap the independent stage two qualifications in three divisions. So the Division of Occupational Psychology, the Division of Counseling Psychology, and the Division of Education Psychology, Scotland.

Um, I think it’s fair to say that’s, that feels like it’s come out of nowhere. Um, I think it sent a massive shockwave because it wasn’t expected. Um, I think, I think at the heart of this is just the, the, the, the kind of the seemingly poor approach to managing change and communicating to people and with people during change, uh, has, has made this, much more a bitter taste and unsettling and upsetting and anger inducing than it, than it needs, it needs to have been.

Um, so there’s all sorts of things going on, but that’s at the heart of it. The proposal is to scrap the independent stage two across three divisions. I

Leanne Elliott: mean, so with that in mind, like you say, the Stage 2 has changed so many times over the last, the last, even the last few years, but certainly the last 15 years.

Why the fuss, if all the BPS is saying we’re just going to change it, why is there this outrage? And as you said, you know, the chief assessor of, of the Stage 2 with the BPS, Gayle, she said, you know, our, in our LinkedIn post, something along, you know, our, our profession is under threat. If it’s just a change in, in program, why the.

Dr. Hayley Lewis: When change is led badly, when change is communicated poorly, when there’s a lack of consultation, meaningful consultation and engagement. This is the normal reaction. People will fill that void with rumor, with anxiety, and it’s almost like people will then feed each other. So I think, I think that plays a part to some degree.

Um, I think that the notion that the field of occupational psychology is under threat. I don’t think the field’s going to go away. But I think the threat that I see is what I talked about earlier, which is closing the door to people who won’t otherwise be able to access the profession and becoming qualified because there’s, there’s too few routes in there too expensive.

They’re too unwieldy. And so there’s something about the choices that people make and how we help people make those choices. Um, Because again, I suppose it calls into, we put importance on, on the terminology charter psychologist. I know I do. Um, I almost killed myself trying to get it. Uh, because of the additional hurdles I had to jump a long time ago.

Um, but what does it mean to the public? Does it mean anything to the public? Does it mean anything to our clients? It was interesting, I was having a chat with another rock psych this morning and we were saying actually, when it comes to our, we call ourselves a psychologist, we don’t use registered or charter because it didn’t mean anything to the average person, so, so that’s going through my mind and lots of people’s minds as well.

Leanne Elliott: Am I right in thinking that even the, the division of occupational psychology, the committee wasn’t informed of the change before it was announced?

Dr. Hayley Lewis: Based on what I have seen come out from the DOP chair, yes, that seems to be the case. That seems to be the case. And so that, that for me gets to the heart of all that’s wrong is the lack of timely communication, but more fundamental than that, the seeming lack of respect.

And recognition of the importance of regular, meaningful, timely engagement and communication. Because it’s not just about broadcasting stuff, it’s about meaningful engagement, whether that’s consultation or whatever, with members. And so, When you’re making big decisions, big change decisions, that feels like a big bit of information to have missing.

And I’m not saying there isn’t information that was explored. Again, it feels like based on the messaging that’s come out subsequently. From the BPS itself, but also the divisional chairs, uh, qualifications leads. It feels like it’s a purely financial driven decision, but even that being said, even when finance is at its heart, I still think the right ethical thing to do is to consult.

You know, when I worked in local government, I was responsible for some major changes that affected residents and some of the most vulnerable service users. You know, we had 350, 000 residents. You’d never dream, even when we had to make cuts, you would never dream of implementing that until you have engaged with the public to get their views, um, to get their views on how this should be implemented.

You know, um, so why, why do we think we can do that here?

Leanne Elliott: It is important to know that the BPS operates as a charity and has a management team that are responsible for its operation. The management team largely has a corporate background, so not necessarily, and probably not psychologists. The influence of psychologists comes through the board of trustees, um, and other boards and committees.

It appears as though this change was a management decision with little consultation with the people it would actually impact. And I think this is the key lesson here. If you want change to be effective, you need to bring employees into that change process. From a start through consultation. If you are currently on the stage two qualification, it’s also important to know that the changes won’t impact you.

You will be able to complete your chartership. Of course. It’s a very neat conversation, so we’ve only published the parts that are relevant to this episode. But if you would like to hear the full conversation with Haley about the changes within the BPS get in touch and I’ll be happy to share that with you.

Al Elliott: So if you want to find out where you’re at with your culture, then Paula has a free EX index report. The link is in the show notes. Oh, and did we mention that she’s worked with brands like John Lewis and Farrow and Ball? So you can, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. The link’s there. The website is theexindex.

com. Theexproject. com. There’s also a free culture change and makers community called spark, which you should definitely check out at theexproject. com forward slash spark.

Leanne Elliott: Yes. And if you want to learn more about Dr. Haley and specifically her sketchner, she mentioned at the top there, she is famous for them and she really is.

I think she’s got 30, 000 followers about now on, on LinkedIn. They are phenomenal. Basically taking very complicated, um, psychological theories, principles, and distilling them into, into a doodle. Um, it’s, it’s so good. And she’s got more than 250 of them now. So do go check them out. You’ll find them, find them on her website, halo psychology.

com. And of course on her LinkedIn and socials, we will leave links to those in the show notes.

Al Elliott: Thank you to both our guests, incredible guests. And thank you for listening. If you’ve got any feedback, you know what to do, go on LinkedIn, search for Truth, Lies and Work. Is there anything else to add, Leanne?

Leanne Elliott: I don’t think so.

We’re back in next Tuesday with another episode of This Week in Work. Um, until then, let us know your thoughts, feedback, sign up for the newsletter. We’ll leave a link to that in the show notes too. Um, and get in touch. Who do you want to see in the show? What should we be talking about? All that stuff.

Al Elliott: Superb. See you next week. Bye bye.

Yes, we’re going to be asking, why did I ask King? My name is Al. I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott: There’s a fly, Al.

Al Elliott: There is. So introduce yourself. So we’ve got Leanne, we’ve got Al and then we’ve got

Leanne Elliott: Felix the fly. How, where did you come from? Let’s meet Haley. Who’s in my face? Poor

Al Elliott: love.

Leanne Elliott: I know, put that in the outtakes, that’s quite funny.

I will

Al Elliott: do. So, let’s just re crap, recap.

Leanne Elliott: Re crap.

Al Elliott: If you’re saying to yourself, I didn’t know any of this, then don’t worry, I didn’t know this at all until I met

Leanne Elliott: You sound like a car then. I know.

Like this?

Join 112,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!


πŸ’¬ Want a chat about your workplace culture?

πŸ“£ Got feedback/questions/guest suggestions? Email

πŸ‘ Like this kinda stuff? Click here to subscribe…