Updated September 7, 2023
The OD Process Professional Certification Program offers a comprehensive approach for those entering the field of Organization Development. This program equips individuals with the necessary skills to effectively work with leaders, teams, and individuals by utilizing the OD Process Consulting Model. By understanding the importance of building rapport and trust in client relationships, participants learn how to provide assistance in a way that is both productive and fulfilling.
As an OD Process Professional, it is crucial to be attuned to the emotional state of clients before offering help. The initial stages of any helping relationship are often imbalanced, and it is vital to invest time in building a solid foundation. Failure to do so can result in unsuccessful outcomes due to insufficient relationship-building, unclear expectations, or a lack of agreement.
When clients reach out for help, they may experience discomfort that triggers an emotional response. It is the responsibility of the OD Process Professional to address the tension and anxiety that arise during this relationship-building phase. Clients may exhibit various initial responses, including mistrust, relief, attention-seeking behaviors, resentment and defensiveness, or unrealistic expectations and transference. Being aware of these responses is crucial for establishing a balanced relationship.
Building long-term relationships is key to success when working with clients. The Process Consultant initiates this process by asking questions that allow them to understand the client’s expectations, experience, and needs. By defining roles, identifying preferences, clarifying outcomes, and setting goals, the Process Consultant helps clients achieve success.
It is important to avoid certain pitfalls when taking on the role of a Process Consultant:
1. Avoid assuming the expert role and jumping to conclusions without gathering sufficient data.
2. Avoid taking on the doctor role and prescribing solutions without considering the client’s ability to fix the problem.
3. Avoid rushing into a leadership position and pressuring the client to implement solutions before prioritizing and considering contingencies.
4. Avoid resisting the helping role and relying on the client to take the lead while you act as a pair of hands.
5. Avoid judging the client’s potential for change, as this bias can hinder effective collaboration.
Building a strong helping relationship involves assessing the client, understanding their resistance, managing your own emotional responses, and demonstrating patience, care, and understanding. By showing curiosity and being mindful of your own emotions, biases, and perceptions, you can focus on the client and cultivate a successful relationship.
At the beginning of the helping relationship, gathering information through strategic questioning is essential. There are several considerations to make when collecting this information: Does the client understand the questions being asked? Is the client able to make decisions? What is the client’s real motivation for asking for help? What is the client’s standing and relationship with other members of the organization? Does the client have the knowledge and skills to follow up on the helper’s recommendations? What will it cost the client emotionally, socially, and financially to accept the help?
As a helper, you must choose a role that influences the flow of information. Several roles can be adopted:
1. The expert who provides information and resources.
2. The doctor who diagnoses and prescribes.
3. The OD Process Consultant who empowers the client to solve their own problems through effective questioning, guidance, facilitation, and consultation.
The Process Consultant role emphasizes effective communication by paying attention to behavior, body language, tone of voice, and other cues that provide insights into the client. Building a helping relationship relies on conveying interest and emotional commitment through a humble inquiry approach. Starting with open-ended questions such as “Tell me more,” “When did this start?” or “What did you do?” allows the helper to gather crucial information, build the client’s confidence, and understand the situation better.
There are four types of inquiry:
1. Pure Inquiry: Used to build the client’s confidence and create a safe environment. Examples include “How can I help?” and “What else would help us understand more?”
2. Diagnostic Inquiry: Helps the client think more deeply about the situation and potential consequences. Questions like “How do you feel about that?” and “What are you planning to do next?” encourage introspection.
3. Confrontational Inquiry: Offers the helper’s perspective and suggestions, but should only be used when trust and confidence have been established. Examples include “Here’s how I see it” and “What do you think?”
4. Process-Oriented Inquiry: Shifts the focus to the present moment and the dynamics of the conversation. Questions like “How is our conversation going so far?” and “Are my questions helping you?” encourage reflection and engagement.
Process inquiry goes beyond active listening; it requires an understanding of social and psychological dynamics. Establishing trust is challenging when someone seeks help, especially if the information shared may be detrimental to them. The Process Consultant helps the client identify roles and establish a collaborative agreement on how to work together. As the client develops trust and becomes an active problem solver, asking deeper-level inquiry questions becomes more challenging but essential for progress.
To learn more about the role of the OD Process Consultant and how you can gain certification as an OD Process Professional, please visit our website.
Dr. Nancy Zentis is the Chief Strategist and CEO of Institute of Organization Development (IOD), offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and Professional Development Skills for ongoing learning.
Reference: Edgar H. Schein, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling