|On the Benefits of Bi-Directional Communication|
|Michael D. Hall, PhD, Psi Chi President, James Madison University (VA)|
The Board of Directors recently returned from a very productive mid-winter meeting. For example, good progress was made toward the introduction of new and sustained award opportunities, including possible new partnerships with other professional organizations. Another major topic at the meeting was how to best implement fast and effective communication of information to members, an issue that provides the focus of this column.
Within an organization of our size (close to 600,000 members and growing), it is very common for communication between board members and their constituents to be limited. Personally, when I was a regional Vice-President for Psi Chi, I very rarely heard from faculty advisors and was almost never contacted by student officers or chapter members about their concerns or hopes for the organization. Occasionally, at a chapter meeting or regional conference, I would even overhear general statements or assumptions about the nature of Psi Chi, some of which were false (e.g., that it is "an organization devoted [solely] to serving undergraduates.”) False statements such as that would prompt me to initiate a dialogue to try to set the record straight. The lack of communication with representatives typically results in members on the Board of Directors simply speaking their minds and voting their conscience. While this is still a meaningful and productive process due to the responsible actions of the Board, it is being done without a full appreciation of what chapters in the respective regions would prefer to see happen in either the short- or long-term future of Psi Chi.
For its part, the organization is making every effort to improve the quantity and quality of information received by members. This effort includes paying special attention to the changing means by which people prefer to receive information, as well as to the fiscal demands of different modes of communication. Toward this end, the Board has made a conscious effort to begin sending messages directly to individual members rather than only to chapters and is moving toward general reliance on electronic communication rather than more traditional methods. (This transition is expected to be complete by the summer). In this way, members will be sure to receive the latest news from the organization almost immediately. Members also will have excellent mobile access to the latest society news given the array of existing means for receiving electronic messages while travelling or otherwise being on the go (e.g., laptops, netbooks, iPads, iPods, smartphones, etc.). Electronic publications, including Eye on Psi Chi, also will mean that all of the primary sources of communication with international membership will be preserved and with great cost savings that can be directly put back into student and faculty award programs. Each member should have already received an e-mailed prompt for the HTML version of the Eye in addition to the latest news digest information (If you have not received such information and would like to, please sign in to www.psichi.org/SignIn.aspx, update your contact information, and add yourself to subscriptions).
It is very important to note, however, that communication is a two-way street. The organization also needs to hear more from you to be sure that it is effectively helping Psi Chi to grow in the ways that you would like to see. You may have noticed recent electronic surveys of chapters (e.g., about development of award and grant programs), and other surveys are likely to follow from time to time. The results of these surveys will inform the Board of Directors about the general perspectives of members while they plan for the future. As members, you also need to know that your regional representatives welcome receiving more personal and direct feedback from you that they can bring to me and the rest of the Board. Let your regional Vice-President know what you think when you see him or her at a regional or national meetings, or alternatively, send an e-mail that conveys some thoughts from you and your chapter. The very same welcoming of feedback applies to me as President, and the Central Office Staff as well, so you should not hesitate to contact any of us. Ultimately, such immediacy and transparency in sharing information will allow us to collectively make this great organization even better.
Hall, PhD, is an associate professor at James Madison University. He earned his
PhD in experimental psychology from Binghamton University SUNY. His
psychoacoustic research on speech and music perception has appeared in top-tier
journals. He has chaired conference sessions for APA, WPA, and the Acoustical
Society of America, and has organized international meetings of the Society for
Music Perception and Cognition. While teaching at the University of Nevada, Las
Vegas (UNLV), he received Psi Chi’s Regional Faculty Advisor Award, in addition
to UNLV’s highest teaching distinction. HE currently serves on the Southeastern
Regional Steering Committee, which plans Psi Chi events and student awards at
the meeting of SEPA, and Western Region. Dr. Hall joined the Psi Chi national
council as the Western Regional Vice-President from 2003-05, serving on
Internal and External Affairs committees, as well as on the Diversity Task
Copyright 2011 (Volume 15, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the
International Honor Society in Psychology
Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members
and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs,
awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers,
graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various
fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.
Eye on Psi Chi is published quarterly: