The primary goal of Organizational Development is to improve organisation effectiveness; therefore, the primary role of an Organizational Development Professional is to establish helping relationships within the organisation, with and between individuals and groups, to achieve that objective. The way that goal is acted out depends on the nature of the task at hand.
It may involve the Organizational development professionals playing a diverse variety of roles: –
- Being the sounding board to the top people, guiding a change team, designing or redesigning an organisation or business process,
- Being a partner to the key decision-makers on a transformation project,
- facilitating a work team, acting as a process consultant to a critical work group,
- providing methodological leadership to the change programme,
- being an extra pair of hands during an overloaded period,
- carrying out regular health checks for each strategic cycle, and so on.
Since Organizational Development roles can be diverse, the purpose and the outcome we aim for is consistent: to bring greater health and effectiveness to the organisation, especially in times of change. In addition, let’s briefly look at the three elements that make Organizational Development consultants different in the world of consulting:
- the centrality of relationship-building
- expertise in human dynamics and the various OD intervention processes.
- the development process of OD professionals.
Organization development professionals aim to improve an organization or work-group’s handling of internal processes in dealing with situations such as change, decision making, leadership style, harmful conflict, building trust, teamwork, and communication. They determine how an organization operates and make recommendations for improvement. Organizational development professionals are typically hired to support organizations that are not working up to their potential and in danger of failing. They make strategic changes to bring businesses back to profitability and strong liquidity.
Organizational Development professionals empower organizations and their staff, the very people who know the work best, to think creatively about new ways of working and getting results. They are committed to improving the performance and effective operation of the organization and simultaneously, to the development and empowerment of its employees. Organizational development professionals act as valued partners of organizations, providing them valuable skills towards future personal and organizational growth and by building morale which reduces employee turnover and rehiring costs.
Expertise in human dynamics
Organizational development’s primary goal is to help an organisation become healthier and more effective, especially during change. The key custodians of the organisation’s health are not the internal or external HR or Organizational Development specialist; they are the organisation’s leaders and managers. Therefore, an Organizational Development professional must be committed to encouraging ownership and the growth of organisation capability among the primary practitioners of OD, that is, leaders. By taking that stance, our main approach is not one of offering expert opinion, but rather, our commitment is to design processes to facilitate an organisation’s ability to help itself through the skilful engagement of its main leaders. Our goal is to help an organisation to secure from its own internal members the acceptance, energy, commitment and competence to make things work.
As Organizational Development professionals we cannot rely on just a formal role, rank or power to influence; instead, we must earn the right to help by focusing on increasing our interpersonal influence to make things happen, which in turn makes managing the relationship arena an area of key focus. Managing relationships and using one’s self to shift mindsets and behaviour requires a committed and in-depth understanding of how the human system works. We need to draw on our knowledge and understanding of various Organizational Development theories – psychodynamic, psychoanalytical, system, group dynamics, action research and change – we also need to have a heightened level of self- awareness and understanding to put ourselves into a good place to be of use to our clients.
The self as instrument
Unlike the expert technical consultant, it is not just our thinking skills (head) that will enable us to do the job; we must bring our head, heart and all our being to make real-time intervention effective. Even if we start off thinking that all we need is a bit of technique and knowledge, our experience will soon tell us that much more is required. We will discover that we cannot take our clients to places to which we ourselves have not travelled. In other words, it is not concepting or techniques that will give us the competence to do our job – even though they are important for our credibility. It is the ability to stay acutely aware of our own inner process’s moment by moment, our ability to get in touch with the complexity of what’s prowling beneath the waterline of human dynamics, that will stand us in good stead in this work.
Therefore, the development of Organizational Development professionals is not just about academic study but about spending more and more development time getting to know this one instrument we own and learning to do more fine-tuning of that instrument through the integration of both our learning and experience. It is not mere theoretical knowledge that helps one become a thorough Organizational Development Professional, but it is rather the understanding of human dynamics and knowing how to channelize the emotions, feelings and goals of various individuals into a single- focused direction.
Bringing about change at an Organizational level has a huge impact on the work-processes, working methods, working cycles and most importantly the change in the efficiency of the employees once the intervention takes place. A person monitoring the entire change process has to be of high calibre and technical ability. An Organizational development professional has to be learned enough to keep track of progress using various indicator and shall also have the tact of getting along with the employees of the organisation to better identify the deficiencies existing in the control mechanisms of the organisation. More and more interactions in the professional environment provides great help to Organizational Development Professionals to polish their skills to excel and compete in their field.