It’s Time for a Change: Becoming the Best OD Process Professional You Can Be!
By Susan Gervasi
“The times, they are a changing.” As we look at the workforce of previous decades, many people selected a career and worked steadily in that same role until retirement. That is no longer the case. It is a different world and the workforce has different views. Today’s workforce has grown up with rapid change, is more technologically savvy, has a new set of priorities, and greater career expectations. There is no longer longevity and loyalty to organizations. Workforces today want to continuously morph themselves and seek change and advancement.
HR and business professionals are expanding their competencies and skills just as those in other fields. We are seeing new opportunities to help organizations grow and successfully achieve their visions and goals. The field of Organization Development (OD) is coming into its own. In fact, the value of OD is escalating in the eyes of our business partners. Therefore, a greater interest in OD careers has surfaced.
These are truly exciting times for OD Process Professionals. We are becoming valued business partners, who collaborate and serve as facilitators and guides in assisting businesses to develop healthy, high performing, self-renewing organizations. That is a tremendous responsibility! Our selfless dedication to our businesses is both challenging and fun as we build our place in the organization as trusted collaborators. OD Process Consulting is seen as a superior style of consulting.
We are seen as helpers, change leaders, trusted advisors, process improvers, and performance improvers. However, we need to earn our seat at the table and then keep it. This new role requires us to continuously improve our own capabilities and skills so we can add value and support critical business initiatives and operational effectiveness.
In order to reinvent ourselves and make the change from business professional to OD Process Professional, we need to apply new skill sets. We need to be able to demonstrate the following skills:
- Communicate and Influence our Business Partners
Our communications skills with our business partners must be effective so we can influence our clients to get their buy-in and support for all interventions. We must be able to present information clearly and succinctly. Through the use of our questioning and listening skills, we continue to build the relationship with our clients and encourage their participation and collaboration. It is important to get our business partners to open-up and share their challenges, desired accomplishments, experiences, opportunities, frustrations, and visions.
- Coach Others and Facilitate Events
As coaches, we provide our clients with targeted help and focus on the developmental side of acquiring knowledge and skills to help employees effectively perform on the job. We help our partners improve communications, transfer learning, solve problems, overcome conflicts, provide feedback and evaluate results. Using formal coaching steps enable us to best leverage organizational capabilities and strengths. At the same time, we promote growth and increased employee engagement.
As Process Professionals, we often take the role of facilitators at meetings and critical business events. We employ the use of process tools such as Reflection, Dialog, Problem Solving, Giving Feedback, and Seeking Consensus. Our facilitation tool box enables us to support many organizational interventions and allows us to smoothly guide our businesses to successful conclusions. We keep activities moving and focused and demonstrate a solid understanding of the business. Using facilitation tools promotes our value and credibility with the organization.
- Engage with the Client and Contract for Success
It does not matter whether we are internal or external OD consultants, the first order of business is for us to conduct entry discussions with our clients. This competence lays the foundation for the relationship and for our future success. Entry discussions enable us to understand the overall needs of the client, define roles and responsibilities, and assess the organization’s readiness for change. In doing so, we must build rapport, establish our credibility to lead, set the ground rules, define mutual expectations, and create a scope of work. This enables us to create contracts with our client to ensure the needs of both parties are met.
- Assess the True Needs of the Organization
We collect data to develop a clear picture of what is causing and perpetuating organizational problems. In addition, through data collection and analysis, we are able to define the current situation, the desired situation, and the gaps that will inhibit the business’ ability to successfully achieve their vision and strategic goals. As OD Process Professionals, we use skills to encourage collaboration with the client in this needs assessment and analysis process. It is critical to differentiate between want, need, and “nice to have”. This will serve as the foundation for all future interventions.
- Provide Feedback on Organizational Needs
Through feedback, we transfer the ownership of taking action to the client. We focus on sharing our findings as they relate to organizational strengths and weaknesses. Through formal feedback reports and sessions, clients are able to verbalize their reactions to the data and make solid decisions about intervention priorities.
- Create Action Plans and Keep the Project Moving Ahead
As OD Process Profesionals, we plan and implement action plans, identify appropriate interventions, lead follow up meetings, and secure buy-in and commitment from our clients. We use the tool of SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so we can create the best possible interventions for the organization. Our OD skills enable us to plan, do, check, and act. We serve as the trusted advisors as we facilitate the development of action plans that support the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic goals.
- Overcome Resistance to Change
OD Process Professionals are change agents. However, change is not always smooth. There are many forms of resistance from our business partners. Partially, this is due to fear and the desire to avoid the unknown. As process consultants, we must learn how to effectively deal with resistance and handle conflict situations. We help to improve communications, promote development, and foster greater involvement and participation. Our knowledge of change management models enables us to apply techniques to overcome resistance and assist the client through change. In the end, we assist the client as they move through exploration and achieve commitment. We handle conflict and challenging situations. We use tools such as the 5 Whys, Fist of Five, Force Field Analysis, and Giving Feedback.
- Transfer Learning/Knowledge and Measure Success
The last skill for OD Process Professionals to utilize is the ability to transfer knowledge and prepare the client for on-going sustainability of the key initiatives. We must prepare the client for separation and ensure the right tools, processes, and skills have been provided. In preparing for the end of the project, it is critical to determine the outcomes and measure the impact of the interventions. The practice of emotional intelligence techniques helps us: 1) maintain control, 2) perceive the situation accurately, 3) read others, and 4) communicate with flexibility. Planning and communications are the keys to success.
If you are excited and energized to make the change to an OD Process Professional role, but are hesitant due to lack of knowledge and experience, invest in your future, make the time and get educated! The Institute of Organization Development offers the OD Process Professional Certification Program (ODPC) to teach you the principles of OD Process Consulting, so you can become fully equipped to build the helping relationship with your clients. You will learn how to influence senior leaders, create contract agreements, and demonstrate facilitation skills. You will enhance your coaching skills, team building techniques, conflict resolution skills, and project management techniques.
You can make the change and take on new challenges to make a difference in your organization. Take the first step, you will never look back!
Susan Gervasi is the Lead Consultant and Faculty member at the Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and Professional Development Workshops for ongoing learning. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about our certification programs and professional development courses, visit our website www.instituteod.com.