Organizational development (OD) is the process that uses a strategic approach in implementing change within an organization. OD professionals work under a balanced relationship with the management to facilitate change through “assisting clients with achieving clarity and diagnosis, and providing information” (Borkowski & Meese, 2021, p. 386). The professionals’ role is to steer the organization towards change, while guiding the management in the right path. They also ensure the members work together throughout the implementation process.
The role of OD professionals has been gaining attraction over the years due to its value of ensuring organizations understand how to use their capability to implement change. Some scholars such as Ionescu, and Bolcaş (2019) argue that OD is moving in the same direction as HR. This shift, according to Ionescu, and Bolcaş (2019), has informed a more coordinated approach to change. For instance, the professionals play a critical role of drafting appealing visions of the future and participating in collaborative efforts for change. In general, the role of OD professionals remains to work closely with organizational leaders, convince others to support change and lead others towards the new initiative.
OD practitioner performs a wide range of tasks depending on the nature of the organization. However, the practitioner must be in a better position when it comes to recognizing organizational needs, besides acting as an adviser or coach. This means that the individual holding this position must have exceptional interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution and team management. The former requires the practitioner to be able to help employees manage stress by accepting differences. Similarly, the OD practitioner should be able to control their emotions. Doing so will help establish a positive environment, which spurs the creation of an effective organizational atmosphere. The latter requires one to ensure the members work together towards a common goal. For instance, OD practitioner recognizes individual’s strengths and weaknesses and helps them move towards professional growth. Other skills to consider include: delegation and communication (both verbal and non-verbal).
Interventions Used in the OD Process
Companies around the world use OD interventions to achieve set goals and, at the same time, resolve conflicts occurring among employees and groups. Organization development, as a process, requires the management teams to ensure change is applied at all levels of management in order to achieve the desired outcomes (Baughen et al., 2020). Therefore, the interventions that will be used in the OD process include: Intergroup relationships, structural changes, and team building and training. Managers should ensure they select the best interventions that will lead to positive outcomes.
Structural changes and Intergroup Relationships
Structural changes, as an intervention, aims at changing organizational structure to make it more effective-it facilitates smooth flow of authority. Introducing changes in functional responsibility will ensure the focus shifts to matrix organizational structure. Most importantly, the intervention is concerned with ensuring the structural changes reflects the mission, objectives, vision, desires and values of the management. On the other hand, intergroup relationships’ focus is to help address the problems existing in interdependent groups. To achieve this requires the management to ensure the groups’ activities are synchronized to eliminate disruptive competition.
Team building and sensitivity training
This intervention exists to ensure the management get the employees and team members to know what is expected of them and how to work together to achieve the desired outcome. Similarly, team building guides members in drafting common values, vision and roles. Training helps change employee behavior and actions through unstructured team interactions. Here, the focus is to allow the participants to speak openly and interact through interpersonal communication. This type of intervention leads to greater trust, increased tolerance and improved empathy among members.
According to research, there are additional three types of interventions that an organization should consider in the OD process. They include: First, individual, which are interventions that focus on an individual. Second, group, which represents a set of interventions related to a group and lastly, organization that consist of interventions pertaining to organization’s strategy and policy (Singh, & Ramdeo, 2020). Therefore, organizations must ensure they identify the type of OD interventions needed before adopting a plan to address the problem. Additionally, the OD process should be based on the following steps; entering and contracting, diagnosis, designing intervention, managing change and evaluating the interventions.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an approach, which strive to bring positive organizational change and leadership development. According to Jones, and Masika (2021), “AI can be used by individuals, teams, organizations, or at the societal level” (p. 279). The aim is to help members appreciate and support a shared vision by participating in strategic technological innovation. AI can also be defined as an approach to change with its central focus shifting to strengths as opposed to weaknesses. Therefore, AI, as an organizational change approach, supports the idea of identifying the strength and building on it, instead of finding the problem and fixing it. As Jones and Masika (2021) further observed in their study, AI has introduced new methods of change in the OD process, “it is fully affirmative, inquiry-based and improvisational” (p. 281). The author further discussed the three basic principles that should be utilized when applying AI in OD change interventions.
First, constructionist principle holds that individual’s thoughts and beliefs about the world emerge through active interaction and construction. Second, the principle of simultaneity argues that change and inquiry occur simultaneously-they undergo similar stages of development. It also emphasizes the need for people to consider asking positive and powerful questions as they help set direction. Lastly, Anticipatory principle states that the way people think about future shapes how they interpret it. The principle states that organizational growth should be based on employees’ positive images of the future. For instance, the expectations of the future and the desires for growth are influenced by daily conversations.
Appreciative Inquiry can be used to shift the focus of organizational development methods by proposing the need to ask generative questions to impact positive change. For instance, AI encourages managers to generate questions that look what is there to be observed. Similarly, AI provides a new approach to inquiry by motivating managers to consider the negative bias that hinders their ability to focus on good that is rarely noticed in the systems.
Barriers to Change
Organizations around the globe opt to implement change because they belief the decision will spur growth and development. According to Orji (2019), the main aim of implementing change is that it will improve the production environment. While change is important for the staff and organization as a whole, it is not without several barriers. The main reason why such obstacles exist is because the management will be dealing with the unknown and, at the same time, eliminating the known. The paragraphs below discuss some of the common barriers to change.
Lack of Employee Involvement
This is one of the most common barriers to change within the organization. Employees will resist change due to lack of clarity to what is expected (Borkowski & Meese, 2021). The problem is that some organizations do not involve employees in the implementation process, which increases discomfort and uncertainty. This barrier develops out of fear of the unknown and lack of desire or will-power to support a new initiative. The success of a new venture is determined by how deeply the employees are involved in the process. In most cases, lack of clear understanding of what change entails is what creates resistance.
It is imperative for the management to understand that most employees will not automatically embrace change. As explicated by Orji (2019) in their study, managers assume that once they get the message out, they will easily get buy-in. In the end, most of them tend to invest in one-way communication or top-down approach. Employees must be informed on why change is needed, how it will be implemented, and what it intends to achieve.
Unknown Current State
Before assessing the efficacy of any change initiative, managers should have a clear understanding of the current state of business. The team must take some time to assess where the business is and the resources needed to implement change. For instance, the management must address the individual barriers highlighted in the study by Borkowski and Meese (2021). These barriers include fear, which need to be addressed to facilitate a smooth implementation process. Overall, by understanding the current state, the organization will prepare adequately for the new initiative, address individual barriers and ensure employees work in a safe and positive environment.
Baughen, A., Oswick, C., & Oswick, R. (2020). Rethinking ‘Organizational Effectiveness’ as a Core Premise of Organization Development: Beyond Narrow Organizational Interests and Towards Wider Soulful Interventions. Journal of Change Management, 20(4), 333-341. Web.
Borkowski, N., & Meese, K. A. (2021). Organizational behavior, theory, and design in health care. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Ionescu, V. C., & Bolcaş, C. (2019). Leadership and Organizational Development. Revista de Management Comparat International, 20(5), 557-564.
Jones, J., & Masika, R. (2021). Appreciative inquiry as a developmental research approach for higher education pedagogy: Space for the shadow. Higher Education Research & Development, 40(2), 279-292. Web.
Orji, I. J. (2019). Examining barriers to organizational change for sustainability and drivers of sustainable performance in the metal manufacturing industry. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 140, 102-114. Web.
Singh, R., & Ramdeo, S. (2020). Group-Level OD Interventions. In Leading Organizational Development and Change (pp. 67-97). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.