Blog

Ten Ways an OD Process Consultant Acts as a Helper
Organization Development refers to the process of helping organizations implement change by involving the client system in data collection with senior leader buy-in and involvement at the top and ownership of the problem.

Often an OD consultant is hired because of the consultant’s expertise and background.  The client meets with the consultant to share problems and get expert advice or prescription on how to solve a particular problem.  However, the role of the OD process consultant is different than most management consultants. Their role as helper is different than most consultant roles who tell the client what to do.  OD process consultants help the client understand their problems and identify a process for implementing change

Give below are ten ways an OD process consultants acts as a helper. OD process consultants:

1.Help clients broaden their perspective about their problem

Clients may what help but really want attention, reassurance, or something entirely different than what they are asking. Avoid the trap of agreeing to quickly to solutions. Ask questions to uncover their true motivations and rationale.  Interview others in the organization to analyze the past, present situation to gain a wider perception.

2.Help clients narrow down on the real concern

Sometimes the client fears working with a consultant and will find ways to criticize you, make you feel unqualified.  Avoid giving premature suggestions or advice as the client may not agree with you.  Instead, ask probing questions to encourage the client to share information about the past and the current situation, and what success looks like in the future. In these situations, it’s important to uncover what’s really happening in order to be truly helpful. If the client expresses concerns, directly ask them what they disagree about.

3.Help clients enter the working relationship as a partner

As an OD professional, you work on identifying a client’s emotional queues (needs and emotional state) in order to have better conversations for building trust and learning more about the real problem.  By doing so, you also help the client identify how to work with you as a partner.

4.Guide clients on the tools and methods they can use to solve their own problems
Avoid assuming the client has the skills and understands how to follow through on identifying and solving the problem. Instead of judging them negatively as incompetent, help them learn how solve problems their own by collecting and analyze their own data and prioritize actions that are needed to solve the problem.

5.Help by focusing on consensus building

Be aware of your own emotional behaviors and be prepared to handle difficult client situations. Use conflict resolutions techniques to resolve differences. Work to achieve consensus agreement.

6.Help by providing value-added inputs

Being asked to help is very empowering and motivating. Take responsibility for giving the client what they need and delivering something of value.  Be prepared for disappointment when the client needs less than you are capable of providing.

7.Help by using contracting upfront to save hassle down the road

When accepting a client engagement, identify whether the client has correctly diagnosed the problem, determine if the client agrees to the data collection process, identify if the change will be supported by leaders and others in the organization, identify who will resist the change.

8.Help by providing a range of services to the client

Clients need help in engaging others to support and commit to the change, diagnosing and analyzing the root cause of the problem, identifying a process to identify and prioritize solutions, implementing and sustaining change and measuring outcomes. OD Process Consultants often provide coaching, facilitation, leadership, and training as well as project management.

9.Enable the client to become self-sufficient for the long-term

Involve the clients in solving their own problems and share your tools and processes so they will learn how to solve future problems. It is very important that you help the client reduce dependency on consultants by learning how to solve their own problems.

10.Show the client how to build and maintain relationships through inquiry

OD process consultants build and maintain the helping relationship by demonstrating inquiry skills through careful observation, listening, and asking appropriate questions such as: Tell me more. What brings you here? Can you give me some examples? When did this happen last? How do you feel about that? Why do you think this is happening? What have you tried so far? What does success look like?

These ten points provide you with insight and guidelines into the role of the OD Process Consultant when developing a helping relationship with the client during the entry phase of the action research model.  If you would like to learn more about becoming certified as an OD Process Professional please contact us at info@instituteod.com.

Author:

Nancy L. Zentis, Ph.D.

References:

Edgar H. Schein, Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help. 20ll. Berrett_Koehler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, CA 94104-2916.