Organising our branches

A letter from our May edition.

The role of BPS Branches has recently been under consideration. There is current progress towards the devolution of the Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland Branches to new forms. In the meanwhile the English Branches survive as diverse structures – some progressive, some somnolent.

The goals of the BPS are well detailed, but the structure and associated processes of the BPS in support of these goals are less well defined. As a bureaucratic organisation, the BPS is to a large extent supported by committees; committees being groups of individuals sharing common interests and an understanding of the remit of the committee. However, individual committee members’ goals may differ. Committees mainly influence an organisation’s policy, but do not necessarily promote it, and are often slow to respond to matters of concern related to the committee remit.

Committees are unlikely to constitute a team. In contrast, Branch team members have shared goals, assigned roles, and aim together for the dynamic satisfaction of these goals. Moreover, a Branch team dynamically liaises on a daily basis with psychologists, other professionals, and the general public in order to promote BPS policy within their geographical area; that should be their specific role within the BPS.

Importantly, the nature of team skills is different from that of individual or committee participatory skills; an individual may be highly educated and experienced in their own skill, but that expertise does not necessary morph into team-related skills as needed by Branches – this is not obviously considered by the BPS.

Developing on a model on team properties (namely, the ‘7Cs’ of teamwork as Command, Control, Communication, Co-ordination, Co-operation, Cohesion, Cybernation: Swezey & Salas, 1992), a related article to this letter has been published in the spring 2016 issue of South West Review (available through the BPS Shop at From reasoning based on the ‘7Cs’ model a set of 10 suggestions were offered in the article on how Branches should be improved, in sum that:

1.    The society should carefully delegate control to Branches.
2.    A Branch team should be tasked to act dynamically and directly as the BPS area representative to the general public.
3.    Team training is made available through the BPS and for selected members of the BPS Branches.
4.    The BPS introduces an improved society communication protocol that is trained and effective.
5.    Video conferencing facilities are supplied to Branch Hubs.
6.    A Branch should have a single point of contact at the BPS with relation to Branch matters.
7.    The BPS yearly monies to the Branch should be based on an agreed business plan for that Branch.
8.    The Branch Secretary is a paid post.
9.    The Branch Secretary is provided with access to a dedicated work space with commensurate role equipment.
10.    Branch team members, particularly student volunteers, should be rewarded for good contributions by some form of BPS acknowledgement.

Iain Macleod
Registered Occupational Psychologist
Chair BPS South West of England Branch

Swezey, R.W. & Salas, E. (1992). Teams: Their training and performance. Stamford, CT: Ablex Publishing.

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