Developing Your Career in the Field of Organization Development

developing a career in organization development through institute of od


Developing Your Career in the Field of Organization Development

This article talks about how OD professionals can develop their careers in OD and what they need to know about the profession.

If you are seeking a career in the field of organization development, you must be   self-motivated, communication savvy, and a visionary. OD professionals have an intense desire to help senior leaders lead change, improve organizational effectiveness, and create a healthy work environment. Other desirable key traits  are must be highly ethical, motivated, inspiring, and dedicated.

OD professionals who desire to take their careers to the next level will benefit from upgrading their skills, experience, and education. Most organizations and senior leaders need OD professionals who can help them manage change and solve critical business challenges and problems.

The OD function usually reports to the VP of Human Resources. However, in some organizations this function reports directly to the Senior Leadership Team. OD professionals act as business partners and help senior leaders deal with issues that impact business strategy and metrics as well as impending change. Some of the areas in which OD can support senior leaders are mergers and acquisitions, changes in business strategy, vision and mission, culture change, leadership development, organization structure and strategy, organization redesign, team development, conflict, and individual development.

The role of the OD Professional is to help senior leaders analyze the organizational culture and recommend changes to help solve problems, improve performance, and enhance organization effectiveness. OD practitioners must develop the expertise and skills to support the senior leadership team and provide them with the process, tools, and skills they need to effectively implement change.

Degrees or Education Needed
When entering into the field of OD, companies typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, or prefer a master’s degree with some business experience in Human Resources, Training and Development, Coaching, Consulting, Project Management.

If you are looking for entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and psychology, human resource management, information technology, organization development and programs that emphasize training and development, industrial psychology will provide you with the foundational knowledge you will need to work as a Organization Development, Professional, or entry level Specialist. For those looking for a specific role such as OD Consultant, or OD Manager, a master’s degree in Organization Development, Leadership and Organization Development, or Human Resource Management will put you ahead of your competitors and make your resume stand apart from the rest.

Earning an industry certification is not required but according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some employers prefer or require job candidates to have certificates or certifications in their field. Many earn graduate degrees in organization development and add to their credentials by registering for an Organization Development Certification Program. To grow in the field of OD and gain a solid reputation verified by industry credentials may benefit you in your career. Currently, online programs and classroom programs offer certifications to support your career growth in the field.

Also, you may want to obtain advanced training or certificates in survey analysis, organization behavior change, assessments such as culture surveys, 360 feedback, personality assessments such as the DISC, Myer’s Briggs, Hogan, Firo-B, and tools such as Emotional Intelligence, Ned Hermann Whole Brain Thinking, Team Assessment, Strategic Planning, Influence Skills, Crucial Conversations, Coaching Skills, etc.

Skills Needed
An organization development professional must have a broad range of skills and vast understanding of the company’s business culture, strategy, structure, systems, and talent management requirements to support all key functions of the organization.

Key skills required include critical-thinking, systems thinking, decision-making, interpersonal communication, active listening, managerial and public speaking, attention to detail, knowledge of business practice, behavior science, ability to influence others, group facilitation, emotional intelligence, self-direction, team playing, strategic thinking and a persuasive speaking and writing, project management, needs analysis, data collection, statistical analysis, research skills, social media, and computer software.

Many of your current skills can be transferred to the field of OD. These include skills such as facilitation, quality management and statistical tools, process improvement, training design, change management, systems thinking skills, consulting, coaching, formal presentations, leading teams, conflict resolution, job analysis, job redesign, competency models, etc.

Career Path
When you apply for a position as an OD professional your role may vary depending on the size of the organization
Some large corporations have large OD departments designed with the sole purpose of working with senior leaders as business partners within the organization, while a smaller organizations may only need one or two individuals who must be highly competent in OD to support the needs of the organization to help leaders solve problems and plan and design effective interventions.

Be sure to read some of the career profiles of our thought leaders (see upcoming issue) to learn how others got started and grew in the profession.

Job Options
The field of Organization Development offers many potential career options.

These include:

Organization Development Specialist
Organizational development professionals use behavioral science technology to identify company goals, systems and strategies to maximize efficiency in the workplace. They also specialize in ‘change management’ by helping their business partners with a variety of interventions involving individuals and teams.

Organization Development Consultant
The Senior Organizational Development (OD) Consultant supports various OD functions to support employee engagement, retention, change management and other initiatives to facilitate professional development and continuous learning initiatives. Supports all departments and department heads with the resources to develop the staff and management team.

Organization Development Manager
The Organization Development Manager supports senior leaders with activities such as change management, organizational capability, talent management, and performance management. The OD Development Manager facilitates working sessions and planning meetings in support of organizational development activities. The Manager works closely with SVP of HR and Sr. Director of HR to develop communication plans and strategy and rolls-out company- wide communication programs. The Manager ensures that all communication is in line with the company philosophy and is up-to-date.

Organization Development Director
The Organizational Development Director acts as organizational development liaison and advisor to the organization’s leadership and facilitates the organization’s initiatives across the enterprise. The Director supports senior leaders to help them with critical business challenges which include planning, developing, and implementing effective solutions to achieve strategic business goals and operational objectives. The Director also assists senior leaders by helping them implement large-scale transitions, such as mergers and reorganizations, culture change, organization systems change.

Organization Development VP
The Vice President, Organization Development (OD) provides leadership, processes, tools, and resources to support the implementation of high-value initiatives. He/she will drive talent management and leadership development strategies, as well as, implement stools/processes required to support succession planning, talent assessment, performance management, competency identification, professional development, and coaching. The VP will lead OD in areas such as: job design, organizational structure, work-force planning, and culture change/transition planning.

The VP’s primary responsibility is to develop the organization from a performance and culture perspective by implementing and overseeing programs that increase efficiencies, strengthen employee knowledge and abilities, improve leadership, and maintain the overall vitality of the organization.

Job Market
According to, the field of OD is a doing good as a result of the improving economic conditions and the demand for OD Consultants is growing. At present, there are 102,700 people employed in this area with a projected growth of 13 percent by 2022. These are estimated figures which probably do not take into account how many more are employed in this field because typically OD consultants are included in a general HR groups.

The pay ranges between $30.00 – $200.00/ hour for certain organizations depending on whether the position is part-time, or as a consultant, at the practitioner level salaries can range from $45,000 – $60,000, to as high as $150,000 – $180,000 and above per year for Managers to VP Level. Freelance consultants have the potential to make much more and those who are well-known and have a reputation for success, demand much higher rates.

We hope this information will be useful for you. If you would like to learn more about Organization Development and how it can help you jump-start your career, call us at 954-341-2522 or email us at

About the author:
Nancy Zentis is a leading professional in the field of OD, with more than 30 years’ experience as a consulting working with multinational organizations. She is the founder and CEO of Institute of OD, providing OD Certification Programs. She can be reached at 954-341-2522.

Additional information
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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Strategies

DE&I consulting services focus on helping organizations foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Consultants assess the organization's current DE&I initiatives, develop DE&I strategies and policies, conduct training on unconscious bias and cultural competence, establish employee resource groups, and guide leaders in creating inclusive leadership practices. They work with organizations to attract and retain diverse talent, create inclusive hiring processes, and implement programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels. DE&I consultants aim to create an environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and have equal opportunities for growth.

Organizational Development Consulting

Organizational development (OD) consulting services focus on helping leaders lead change initiatives to improving organizational effectiveness and results. Consultants work closely with leaders to assess the organization's current state, identify areas for improvement, create action plans and design interventions, and implement changes to enhance employee engagement, teamwork, leadership development, and organizational culture. They facilitate strategic planning, conduct organizational assessments, and implement initiatives such as talent management, succession planning, performance management, and employee training and development programs. OD consultants aim to align people, processes, and systems to drive sustainable organizational growth and change.

Mentoring Program

Mentoring Programs involve establishing formal or informal relationships between experienced employees (mentors) and less experienced employees (mentees) within an organization. Consultants assist organizations in designing and implementing mentoring programs that facilitate knowledge transfer, skill development, and career growth. They establish mentoring guidelines, match mentors and mentees based on specific criteria, provide training and resources for mentors, and monitor the progress of the mentoring relationships. Mentoring programs aim to enhance employee development, engagement, and retention by leveraging the expertise and wisdom of experienced professionals.

Performance Management

Performance Management involves establishing systems and processes to monitor, assess, and improve employee performance. Consultants work with organizations to design and implement performance management frameworks that align with organizational goals and values. This includes setting clear performance expectations, defining key performance indicators (KPIs), establishing regular feedback and coaching mechanisms, conducting performance evaluations, and linking performance outcomes to rewards and recognition. Performance management systems aim to drive individual and team performance, align employee efforts with organizational objectives, and support employee development.

Job Redesign/Analysis

Job Redesign/Analysis is the process of reevaluating and modifying job roles and responsibilities to optimize efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction. Consultants analyze existing job descriptions, tasks, and workflows to identify opportunities for improvement. They may conduct job analyses to determine essential skills, competencies, and qualifications required for each role. Based on these findings, consultants provide recommendations for job redesign, such as clarifying roles and responsibilities, redistributing tasks, and implementing automation or technology solutions to streamline processes and enhance job satisfaction.

Executive Coaching, Competency Development, 360° Feedback

Executive Coaching, Competency Development, and 360 Feedback are individual-focused strategies that aim to enhance leadership and professional effectiveness. Consultants provide executive coaching services to senior leaders, offering personalized guidance, support, and feedback to help leaders develop their strengths, address developmental areas, and enhance their leadership capabilities. Competency development involves identifying and developing specific skills and competencies required for success in particular roles or functions. 360-degree feedback involves collecting feedback from multiple sources, including peers, subordinates, and superiors, to provide a comprehensive assessment of an individual's strengths and areas for improvement.

Culture Strategies

Culture Strategies focus on shaping and transforming the organizational culture to create a positive and productive work environment. Consultants assist organizations in assessing their current culture, identifying areas for improvement, and developing strategies to align the culture with the desired values, behaviors, and goals. This may involve initiatives such as defining core values, establishing cultural norms, enhancing communication and collaboration practices, promoting diversity and inclusion, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation.

Talent Management Strategies

Talent Management Strategies involve designing and implementing initiatives to attract, develop, engage, and retain top talent within an organization. Consultants work with organizations to develop comprehensive talent management strategies that encompass recruitment and selection processes, onboarding programs, performance management systems, career development frameworks, succession planning, and employee retention strategies. The goal is to ensure the organization has the right people in the right roles, with opportunities for growth and development that align with their skills and aspirations.

Career Planning/High Potentials

Career Planning/High Potentials initiatives involve designing strategies and programs to support employees in planning and advancing their careers within the organization. Consultants work with organizations to establish career development frameworks, provide guidance on career paths and progression opportunities, and assist in identifying and nurturing high-potential employees. They may offer career counseling, development planning, and training programs to enhance employees' skills, competencies, and knowledge needed for career growth. Career planning initiatives aim to engage and retain talented individuals by providing them with a clear path for advancement and professional development.

Change Management

Change management consulting services support organizations in managing and implementing significant organizational changes. Consultants help identify change management strategies and plans, assess the impact of change, and design effective communication and training programs to support employee adoption and buy-in. They work with leaders and teams to overcome resistance, address cultural and behavioral challenges, and foster a positive change culture. Change management consultants provide guidance throughout the change process, ensuring a smooth transition and successful adoption of new processes, systems, or structures.

Organization Change (OCM) Strategy

Organization Change Management (OCM) Strategy refers to the planned approach or roadmap that an organization follows to implement and manage changes within its structure, processes, technologies, or culture. OCM strategies involve identifying the need for change, setting goals, creating a plan, and executing and evaluating the change process. Organization Change Consulting involves developing and implementing effective strategies to manage and navigate organizational change. The consultant focuses on helping organizations transition smoothly from their current state to a desired future state, considering various factors such as technology advancements, market shifts, mergers and acquisitions, or internal restructuring. Consultants specializing in OCM work closely with organizational leaders to identify OCM processes and help implement a consistent approach to change management, and train internal consultants to lead change management projects and provide support throughout the change process. Consultants may develop assessments, develop communication and training programs, and provide guidance on change implementation to ensure successful organizational transitions. OCM design typically includes steps such as stakeholder analysis, communication and training plans, risk assessment, and monitoring progress to ensure a smooth transition and successful adoption of the changes.

Human Resources Strategies

Human resources (HR) consulting services assist organizations in optimizing their HR practices and processes. Consultants work with HR departments to enhance talent acquisition and retention strategies, develop compensation and benefits programs, design performance management systems, implement employee engagement initiatives, and ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations. They may also provide guidance on organizational restructuring, workforce planning, employee relations, and HR technology implementation. HR consultants help organizations align their HR practices with business objectives and create a positive and productive work environment.

Team Development Strategies

Team Development Strategies focus on improving the effectiveness and performance of teams within an organization. Consultants work with teams to enhance communication, collaboration, and decision-making processes. They facilitate team-building activities, provide training on effective teamwork and conflict resolution, and help establish clear roles and responsibilities. Team development strategies may also involve conducting assessments to identify team dynamics and strengths, and designing interventions to improve team cohesion, trust, and productivity.

Employee Engagement Strategies

Employee Engagement Strategies aim to create a work environment where employees feel motivated, committed, and connected to the organization. Consultants assist organizations in measuring employee engagement levels, identifying factors that influence engagement, and developing strategies to enhance it. These strategies may include initiatives such as fostering a positive work culture, improving communication and recognition practices, providing opportunities for growth and development, promoting work-life balance, and empowering employees to contribute their ideas and opinions. The goal is to create a work environment that fosters high employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity.

Leadership Development Strategies

Leadership Development Strategies focus on cultivating effective leaders within an organization. Consultants work with organizations to assess leadership capabilities, identify leadership gaps, and design leadership development programs that enhance leadership skills, competencies, and behaviors. These strategies may include executive education, coaching and mentoring programs, leadership training workshops, and succession planning initiatives. The aim is to build a strong leadership pipeline and foster a culture of leadership excellence throughout the organization.

Organization Design/Redesign

Organization Design or Redesign refers to the process of structuring an organization to align its structure, roles, processes, and systems with its strategic objectives. It involves reviewing and potentially revising elements such as reporting lines, departmental structure, job roles and responsibilities, decision-making processes, and overall organizational hierarchy to optimize efficiency, coordination, and effectiveness within the organization, ensuring that it is well-positioned to achieve its goals. Organization Systems Design or Redesign consulting focuses on designing or restructuring the systems and processes within an organization to optimize efficiency, effectiveness, and overall performance. This service involves analyzing existing organizational systems, such as workflows, communication channels, decision-making processes, and information management systems, to identify areas for improvement. Consultants work closely with organizational leaders to redesign these systems, incorporating best practices, automation, and streamlining processes to enhance productivity and achieve organizational goals. They may also provide recommendations on implementing new technologies or software to support the redesigned systems and ensure successful integration within the organization.

Organization Culture Change/Transformation

Organization Culture Change or Transformation involves deliberately altering the beliefs, values, behaviors, and norms that define the culture of an organization. Organization Culture Change consulting involves assisting organizations in transforming their existing culture or establishing a new desired culture within the organization. The organizational culture encompasses shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms that shape the way people work and interact within an organization. Culture change consultants help organizations identify their current culture, define the desired culture, and create strategies to bridge the gap between the two. They may conduct cultural assessments, facilitate workshops and training programs, develop communication strategies, and provide guidance to leaders and employees on how to align their behaviors and practices with the desired culture. This change is typically aimed at aligning the organizational culture with the company's vision, mission, and strategic objectives. Culture change initiatives often require a shift in leadership style, employee engagement, communication practices, and organizational practices to create a new cultural environment that supports desired outcomes such as increased collaboration, innovation, or adaptability.

Systems Design

Systems Design refers to the process of creating or modifying the systems and processes within an organization to optimize efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness. It involves analyzing the existing systems, identifying areas for improvement, and designing new systems or reconfiguring existing ones to meet organizational goals. Systems design may include aspects such as technology infrastructure, software applications, data management, workflow processes, and automation to enhance operational performance and streamline organizational activities.

Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning is the process of defining an organization's direction, setting goals, and formulating action plans to achieve those goals. It involves assessing the organization's current state, identifying opportunities and challenges, and developing strategies to effectively allocate resources and achieve the desired outcomes. Strategic planning typically includes analyzing the external environment, conducting internal assessments, setting objectives, formulating strategies, and establishing a framework for monitoring and adapting to changes in the business landscape. Strategy consulting services focus on assisting organizations in formulating and implementing strategic plans to achieve their long-term objectives. Strategy consultants also help organizations align their vision, mission, values, processes, and organizational structure with the strategic goals.

Succession Planning

Succession Planning is the process of identifying and developing internal talent to fill key leadership positions within an organization when they become vacant. Consultants work with organizations to create succession planning strategies that align with the organization's long-term goals. They assess the current talent pool, identify high-potential employees, and design development programs to groom them for future leadership roles. Succession planning may involve creating development plans, providing leadership training, and implementing strategies to ensure a smooth transition when key positions need to be filled.