What is Organizational Development?
Organizational Development is an interdisciplinary approach to building and improving the performance and effectiveness of a company or organization. It primarily focuses on people and how they are organized, their roles and skills, how they communicate and interact, and the motivations that help them achieve personally and professionally while reflecting the values of their organization.
Organizational Development is grounded in psychology and behavioral sciences which contend that employee behaviors and motivations are influenced by organizational structures and processes. It involves disciplines that include human capital management, organizational design, leadership, employee training and development, change management, performance management, organizational culture and employee relations.
Organizational Development for Startups
For newer organizations like startups, greater organizational development emphasis is placed on strategic considerations, such as who are the critical team members and functions we need to succeed? What skills are needed now and in the future as the organization grows? How does leadership establish and reinforce the strategies, values and vision for the organization that will build an organizational culture that is sustainable as we grow?
Organizational Development and Change Management
For more mature organizations, Organizational Development is more centered around change management. Over time, people’s roles and behaviors may be misaligned to what the organization wants to achieve on several fronts, including purpose, structure, resources, knowledge sharing and leadership. This can lead to dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors that cause inefficiency, mistrust and ineffectiveness.
Organizational Development Consultant
Because Organizational Development involves a complex interaction of different systems like the human body, an organizational development consultant’s methods of inquiry, study, diagnoses and recommendations is similar to an approach a medical or mental health professional would take.
An organizational development consultant will use interviews and questions to take an assessment of the organization, develop a treatment approach or strategy, and then monitor and track the ongoing effectiveness of the intervention.
A human capital professional or consultant will begin with an organizational assessment and will likely investigate the following:
Vision, Purpose and Direction
Do members in the organization share a similar understanding of why the organization exists, what it is trying to accomplish, where it is going and what its priorities are? Or, are people unaware of the organizations’ purpose and direction, view it as irrelevant and cannot see how their role contributes to overall goals?
Is there a clear structure to the organization or planned organization by discipline, industry, geography and products? How are complexities managed when groups insect or overlap, such as in a matrix that has to be managed?
Profit Centers and Cost Centers
Are groups treated as profit centers? How are costs distributed among products, services, divisions for functions such as IT support, Staffing/Human Capital and Accounting? How is performance measured and what happens to underperforming groups?
Leadership, Competencies, Skill Gaps
Do people get the authority, resources and support to do what their teams were organized to do? Do the current people have the requisite skills to do what needs to be done? Can the current employee base scale for growth? How do we fill gaps in skills and competencies? Training and development? Recruiting?
Do people share their wins and losses with each other? Are client contacts, information, tools and resources shared or protected? Do people publicly recognize and honor the achievements and contributions of others?
Group & Team Dynamics, Development
Do people hold each other to high standards and provide compassionate but direct feedback and coaching? Do people genuinely listen to others’ opinions? Do people value each others’ time? Are agreements and commitments held sacred? Do people define themselves as members of a team and act as if their success is enhanced by the team?
Organizational Development Strategy
After assessing the leadership team and the organization including how it solves problems, its communications styles, its skills/roles fit, and leadership/team dynamics, a summary report and recommendations may be formulated to prepare for the future, fix dysfunctions, fill gaps, and help direct change. This may include the following:
Develop a new organizational structure based on current key contributors, critical functions and current staff, including challenges of the current structure be it by discipline, geography, or product/solution.
What are the recruiting, development and succession plans needed to create the new organizational structure, including selection and hiring processes, assessments and coaching.
Identify group leaders and articulate how they are to add value as a group leader to their teams, as well as their roles and responsibilities. New skills development about relationship building, listening, feedback and motivation may be included. Other skills may include building rapport, coaching skills, how to deal differently with different people and helping underperformers.
This would include how to clarify group goals that are clear, specific, shared, measurable and accountable. Interaction among group members would be defined, too, including what do people owe each other in terms of honoring time, agreements and accountability, listening and feedback. Trust building, effective meetings, and resolving interpersonal conflict are part of how teams and people deal with one another.
Strategies and tactics will be created for how junior staff and team members developed, how new people are integrated into teams, including onboarding, what the appropriate group size is and how group results are measured.