Though important, the organizational development practice (OD) has not been well defined in scholarly work and practice. Consequently, it is difficult to define the roles of the practitioners and consultants in this field (Brown & Harvey, 2015). In particular, OD goes beyond the traditional boundaries of coordination and facilitation of departmental functions.
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Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the area is increasingly becoming important in modern organizational and public management. It requires effective, knowledgeable and dedicated OD professionals and consultants (Brown & Harvey, 2015). Therefore, the point of interest is to address the question “what are the roles and styles of an OD practitioner/consultant?”
Scholarly literature has used different types of descriptions for the practitioner, including advisor, coach, designer, facilitator, consultant, partner, diagnostician, expert, process specialist and a number of others (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015). It is worth noting that these roles can be practiced as an external consultant or within the human resource department or section (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).
Regardless of the description used, the reality is that the roles of an OD practitioner are varied and its primary aim is to help clients improve the effectiveness of developing their organizations. In addition, the practice is humanistic in nature, which makes the roles and practice relational based (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).
One of the main roles of the OD practitioner in the modern context is to aid organizational leaders to foster effective organizational alignment (Brown & Harvey, 2015). In this case, they act to help an organization become responsive to the environment in which it operates. The OD practitioner or consultant must be part of the team that aligns the original culture as well as capabilities to the company’s strategic interests (Brown & Harvey, 2015).
In facilitating organizational alignment, the OD practitioner must work closely with experts involved in strategic planning. This process involves formulating an OD plan that acts as part of the organization’s strategic plan. In simple terms, the plan developed by the OD practitioner has the intentional change efforts that the organization requires to successfully and effectively executive its strategy (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).
Secondly, the OD practitioner plays significant roles in helping an organization detect and understand any gap that hinders successful growth, development and performance (Brown & Harvey, 2015). The practitioner must strive to obtain adequate information relating to the organization’s history, culture, performance, relations and other aspects (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).
Using this information, the practitioner is able to help the organization realize and understand gaps, problems and disparities that hinder the achievement of its strategic objectives. For instance, the OD can use this information to determine the causes and origins of low employee motivation and engagement or negative perception of the work and organization (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).
To play this role, the practitioner must facilitate sessions. Employee surveys, organizational assessment and other means of gathering information are used in OD practice to obtain as much information as possible in order to develop a comprehensive plan for facilitating change (Brown & Harvey, 2015).
It is also important to note that the OD practitioner helps in facilitating behavioral change in an organization. They are the major players in supporting and facilitating change management (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015). The work requires implementing strategies for the organization, the managers and their employees to change their perceptions and behavior in carrying their tasks in order to achieve their goals and objectives (Brown & Harvey, 2015).
Brown, D. R., & Harvey, D. (2015). An experiential approach to organization development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Cheung-Judge, M., & Holbeche, L. (2015). Organization Development: A Practitioner’s Guide for OD and HR. New York: Kogan Page.