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What Does an Organizational Development Consultant Do?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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An organizational development consultant works with executive level management to develop and implement constructive improvements. Consultants can either take a systemic or individualistic approach. They may work on improving the organization's culture and strategic processes or with an individual employee's performance and job duties. An organizational development consultant examines the way things are currently being done and makes recommendations based upon desired outcomes.

Most organizational development consultants begin by observing and gathering data about how a company's culture currently operates. They may interview several key employees and decision makers during this stage. An organizational development consultant is looking for gaps between what the company says it is trying to accomplish and what it is actually doing. For example, a company may state that it has an open door communication policy, but its local leaders may be instilling feelings of intimidation through strict corrective action policies that counteract an atmosphere of trust.

Organizational development consulting can also examine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization in terms of its marketplace performance. Consultants could look into how a company responds to its competitors and what it can do to be a more effective market player. An organizational development consultant will work closely with a company's leadership team to determine how the company can present itself more favorably. Most often, the new presentation will come about after several changes in internal processes are made.

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The goal of any organizational development consultant is to transition a company from one point to another. For example, an organization may be concerned about its high turnover rate amongst its sales representatives, but not know why it is occurring. Employees may be reluctant to provide candid feedback to the employer when exiting the company. Some companies do not have proper feedback tools in place to gather this type of information, or the culture could be stifling enough to discourage honesty.

In this case, the goal of an organizational development consulting agency would be to attempt to isolate employees from the influence of that culture. Some employees may be more forthcoming with feedback when talking to someone who doesn't have the power to disrupt their source of livelihood. Consultants are often specialists in designing survey questions that reveal the type of information that organizations would find helpful. The problem may have multiple causes that are symptoms of a deeply rooted organizational culture problem.

At times, these consultants also work with individual employees or with those in certain job descriptions. As a company changes in size and operational scope, certain employees may need to be re-trained to view their roles from different perspectives. Others might need to be coached to improve their performance in areas that the company does not have the expertise to refine. It is the responsibility of the consultant to help employees shift their manner of thinking in order to improve or modify performance results.

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