The Eos life~work resource centreConsultant profile: Dai Williams
I am an independent consultant specialising in career, organisation and community psychology issues. For Eos projects I work with other specialists in occupational psychology, human resource management, organisation change and occupational health.
I read Psychology and Sociology at Swansea University graduating in 1970. The Occupational Psychology Masters course at Birkbeck College, London University (77-79) was a major inspiration featuring many new developments in work, organisation and personal development psychology. I became a Chartered Occupational Psychologist in 1989.
From 1971-86 I worked with Shell in the UK and Canada in various Personnel functions including employee and public relations, career planning, personnel systems, job evaluation, job design, international recruitment and staff development. Work and life in Shell Canada (81-83) offered me very different perspectives on employment and personal development from those in the UK. These included far more positive approaches to self-motivated careers and to age, gender and ethnic differences. I returned to Shell International to work as overseas recruitment and education advisor for companies in the Far East, Middle East and Africa (83-86) before voluntary redundancy created the opportunity to set up my own business.
Eos work & career psychology
Eos initially specialised in international graduate recruitment and education programmes for companies in the Far East. Clients included Singapore Airlines, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation and Guardian Pharmacy and several companies in Japan. From 1987-90 I was a member of the AGCAS Overseas Student Working Party working with UK university careers services, co-author of their handbooks on international careers for students and career advisers.
Eos life-career planning and outplacement programmes began in 1987 and became a major priority during the UK Recession, 1990 onwards. Traditional approaches to employment, career guidance and career patterns became obsolete as the UK labour market became more unstable. Eos programmes were developed to help clients cope with severe career crises, stress and change - both in and out of work. Many of the topics covered in Eos Life-Work Themes come from action research into problems faced by my clients. From these I have developed a "toolkit" for career planning and strategies for turning crises into opportunities for career and personal development.
Corporate clients have used Eos programmes to assess training and development opportunities for management and departmental teams, development potential for staff, internal redeployment of staff (inplacement), redundancy programmes (outplacement) and support for staff in career or personal crisis situations. In the last year this has included planning and supporting Chief Executive and Director selection in a major UK trade association. Sectors covered include IT, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, publishing, postal services, a 'not-for profit' membership association and education. plus family businesses and the self-employed.
I have lectured part-time on the occupational psychology and counselling in organisations courses at Surrey University and joined Surrey Training & Enterprise Council's New Directions network when it was launched. Eos is now the longest established independent career consultancy in Surrey.
Eos community, political and peace psychology
Career challenges faced by individuals and employers are often symptoms of wider social and employment issues. My interests in this area are listed in the Community Psychology Index. I convened a national workshop on Psychological Effects of the Recession for the British Psychological Society in 1993 and became a contributor to the UK Forum for Organisational Health. I ran seminars with local support groups for the unemployed through the Recession with a local community network and wrote a handbook for support group leaders and helpers with them.
In September 1997 I began to apply work psychology and organisational change principles to events in UK and international politics. On a hunch I wondered if the transition psychology processes that affect my clients in many organisations and professions could be used to anticipate the potential effects of trauma and change on politicians in the UK Parliament after the 1997 General Election.
After checking this proposition with three leading transition researchers in the UK I wrote a short survival guide for MPs and ex-MPs called After the Honeymoon, featured on BBC TV's Newsnight programme (31 Oct 97). The second edition in Dec 97 was called Parliament in Transition with suggestions for moving 'from crisis to recovery'. This 'landslide syndrome' (Daily Telegraph) appeared to affect members of both the Opposition and the new Government between Oct 97 and Feb 98. The predicted recovery phase took longer than expected but developed rapidly in spring 98.
Through 1998 I continued to monitor periods of crisis and recovery for individual MPs and political leaders. These indicated strong connections between psychological factors (good and bad) and national and international events in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Sudan. I convened a symposium "Waves of Change" about the psychology of change and its societal implications for the BPS Conference in January 1999 with three leading specialists in occupational psychology (see Human responses to change).
During 1999 further events suggested wider psychological issues in conflict and political change especially the conduct and aftermath of the Balkans War, the outlook for the Peace Process in Northern Ireland and the Devolution transition. In January 2000 these were collated in a new analysis of psychological climate in the UK Government from April 98 with forecasts to Sept 2000, in Accidents waiting to happen.
In Autumn 2000 world affairs were shadowed by the new Intifada crisis in Palestine and Israel, deep confusion in the US Presidential election, and a series of disasters in the UK (storms floods and train crashes). If earlier studies were valid these new traumas and changes had the potential to start majot transition cycles for leaders, governments and communities in the Middle East, the USA and the UK.
These potential transition cycles were analysed in February 2001 indicated powerful strategic options for the Governments in Israel, Palestine, the USA and the UK. The implications for "psychological climate" in each government and country - hazards and opportunities - were awesome. They were published in the Power or Peace project, copied to governments in March and reported in the IBPP in April. The forecasts showed best case scenarios and downside risks. Other analysts are welcome to test these forecasts against actual events in the Middle East and USA, and international action (or lack of it) from April onwards culminating in the tragic terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11th 2001.
These propositions have been covered briefly in the UK press and BBC each year since 1997. But they need testing in wider debate with other researchers and political analysts. The full version of the Power or Peace project offers a toolkit for psychological climate forecasting up to a year after major traumas or changes (available on request to analysts and researchers). An update with new scenarios for the aftermath of the traumas in New York and Washington will be posted on this website soon.
Most occupational psychology research and practice focusses on business organisations. However many of the same principles apply to political careers and organisations. In one sense politics is just another employment sector. But in every country politicians determine the economic, social and legal environment that shapes the world of work. The successes and crises of national leaders and governments offer highly visible examples of the hazards and opportunities that face managers and staff in many other organisations.
Encouraging real-time discussion of psychological processes in politics via the media is hazardous. The conclusions are not always what press editors or politicians want to hear. Some media reports have been handled with great integrity. Others have been changed to suit editorial news campaigns. Accidents waiting to happen was reported in The Times on 6 July 2000. The text report was accurate but the headlines and illustration seriously mispresented the imminent recovery forecast for the Government to support the paper's "spin war" campaign against the Prime Minister. Two weeks later the Government published major strategic intiatives for public services indicating that they had recovered from another extended crisis period.
Unfortunately in Sept 2000 the UK Government entered a new series of external crises that have continued for over a year now. These must have had serious effects on stress levels and psychological climate in the Government and hence on its ability to make sound strategic decisions for domestic and international policy. However the issues of fluctuating 'organisational health' and better ways of managing the effects of stress, trauma and change in Governments has yet to be recognised in either academic research or the media. This is unfortunate as chronically stressed and recently traumatised world leaders propose to embark on another cycle of major military conflicts.
New and ongoing projects
2001 has been an exciting year for extending our networks - locally and internationally - via the Internet. The Eos Life-Work website is an exciting opportunity to increase public awareness of psychological hazards and opportunities in everyday life including:
- new approaches to career and personal development for individuals and employers
- important interactions between work and personal life - life-work boundaries
- the need for a new Fair Work Ethic to replace the obsolete Protestant Work Ethic
- psychological aspects of conflict and change in organisations and communities
- psychological aspects of national and international political processes - the Power or Peace project, March 2001.
- the opportunity for closer collaboration between psychologists and other professions on employment issues (see Professional Networking), and community and political issues including peace psychology and psycho-history (see links in the Community Projects Index).
The Internet offers a fast and economical way to promote these issues in the UK and around the world. High quality website links enable us to share a wide range of research and professional experience easily. Future updates will include seminars and networking events promoting best practice, action research and policy reviews in the world of work.
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