I’m working on a Management exercise and need support.
Explain the OD practitioner’s role in the process of entering the organization and respecting the existing culture while concurrently recommending improvements and enhancements. What steps or measures can the OD consultant take to minimize fear and disruption?
A core competency of the OD professional is to be able to demonstrate respect to the agency that they are working with and for. The International Organization for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (n.d) outlines in their ethical principles that people should always be treated as “ends and never only means,” suggesting that people within organizations should be respected for who they are as people and not just their positions. Further, the OD professional has to be able to balance different opinions, beliefs, attitudes, tolerance levels for change, and diverse cultural backgrounds. At their core, all of these tasks stem from a foundation of respect. While the OD professional may be the expert on techniques and interventions to strengthen the agency, it is the employees that are the experts on culture and they will be the ones informing the OD professional about their unique culture and how it contributes to their successes or failures currently. As the famous quote attributed to Peter Drucker states, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and an OD consultant must fully understand this to be successful. Even the most well-researched and evidence-based techniques will only take an agency so far if the culture is not understood and worked within properly. Ashkanasy and Dorris (2018) write that there are many definitions of culture in the OD literature and has no established meaning, but generally can be thought of as “involving embedded, agreed upon values and beliefs of an organization’s employees” (Ashkanasy & Dorris, 2018, p. 2). Most of the time these nuances of the culture are subtle and covert, not obvious at first to the outside professional. The goal of the OD professional should be to first learn and understand the culture they are entering and not seek to change it without first knowing how it operates. As they take a respectful and humble stance where they seek to learn about the culture from the employees and trust and credibility is built to where improvements and enhancements can be introduced and have more potential to be successful.
Another role of the OD professional as they enter into the organization is to help clients own the change process (Institute of Organization Development, 2015). It is not just about what the OD professional wants to accomplish, but rather how they can collaborate with the employees to design the change process together. The OD consultant should expect some level of fear and skepticism among employees going into the agency. As Rothwell (2015) writes, resistance to change is a normal reaction when people are being asked to change, even if for the better. The attuned professional will know to expect some of this and be better prepared to manage it. Rothwell goes on to say that how the consultant handles the resistance is what makes the difference in the agency being able to successfully navigate the OD process. One step the professional can take is to ensure that all employees involved in the change process can talk about it and give their input (Rothwell, 2015). Conversations about concerns should be facilitated every step of the way. Rothwell (2015) also suggests utilizing individual interventions aimed at increasing the self-awareness of the employees. Exercises such as the Johari Window and Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator promote personality insight and help employees better understand their place in the organization personally and professionally. These exercises can also give the OD professional insights into the company culture. Group exercises would be beneficial to minimize fear and disruption as well (Institute of Organization Development, 2015). Fostering trust amongst colleagues and starting everyone on a level playing field can ease tension. Lastly, the OD professional can utilize organizational culture models that provide a framework to better view the unique culture of the agency. The existing perspectives include culture, subcultures, and culture strength (Ashkanasy & Dorris, 2018). Understanding these perspectives from a theory standpoint can help the professional stay grounded in looking at issues through the lens of culture and not just problem-solving.
Ashkanasy, N. & Dorris, A.B. (2018). Organizational culture and climate. In The SAGE Handbook of Industrial, Work and Organizational Psychology (Eds. Ones, Anderson, Sinangil, Viswesvaran). London, England: SAGE.
Institute of Organization Development. (2015, December 20). Critical OD competencies to help you become a world-class OD interventionist [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://instituteod.com/iod-announces-7th-annual-od-conference-may-2017/
International Organization for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes. (n.d.). Ethical guidelines and professional standards for organization development and group process consultants. https://www.iagp.com/docs/IAGPOrgEthicalguidelines…
Rothwell, W. J. (2015). Organization development fundamentals: Managing strategic change. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.
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