This paper explores why organisation development (OD) is relevant to a company’s performance by exploring its purpose and attributes. Key issues such as OD and Human Resource (HR) relationships, the influence of OD values on the activities of OD practitioners, theories and models surrounding OD processes, techniques for developing leadership and team activities in OD processes, and OD measurement techniques characterise this analysis.
Relationship between OD and HR
People have varying definitions about OD processes. Some say it involves processes that aim to improve an organisation’s performance, while others say it involves effective uses of organisational resources to improve productivity (Mehta 2009). Regardless of the wordings, these definitions are correct because OD involves processes that strive to improve an organisation’s productivity.
It does so by recognising the roles of different external and internal factors on organisational development (Mehta 2009). OD shares a close relationship with HR development because the latter is one aspect of the concept. Stated differently, HR complements OD processes (HR is not a substitute of the latter) (Kandula 2006). Concisely, OD differs from HR because it surpasses human functions to include other aspects of organisational performance, such as organisational structures and systems.
Relationship between OD and Managers/Leaders
OD-management relationships exist within the framework of HR-OD processes, as explained above. OD is part of a change management process that requires leadership at different levels of company operations (Brown 2011). Particularly, leaders play an important role in OD processes across three levels of operation – organisation transformation, management teams, and management development.
Using this framework, leaders and managers influence OD processes through power and cultural changes, dispersed management changes, and continuous development changes. Based on this framework, it is important to point out that OD depends on management focus. The focus needs to start from the top and trickle down to the bottom.
How OD Values Influence the Practices of OD Practitioners
The role of an OD practitioner is to bridge the gap between current and future organisational states, to focus on an organisation’s long-term goal, and to create employee buy-in (to realise an organisation’s vision) (Massarik 1995). These duties help an organisation to realise the need for change. Using a different focus, OD practitioners could help organisations to redesign their strategies by improving employee well-being programs and organisational cultures (to support such redesigns) (Massarik 1995).
Alongside their duties of improving organisation development, OD values guide the practitioners to create opportunities for employees to flourish in the organisation, as human beings, and not as machines. Similarly, the same values guide the practitioners to allow all employees to develop their full potential, and, at the same time, help the organisation to achieve its goals (Massarik 1995). Overall, organisation development practitioners work by understanding that they need to create a productive environment for employees and organisations, which is both fun and challenging.
Theoretical Knowledge and Models Underpinning OD
Different researchers have conceptualised organisational development theories. For example, the field theory of planned change shows that two forces affect organisation change – driving forces and restraining forces. This theory premises on the belief that all organisations strive to maintain a quasi-stationary equilibrium state, which the two forces described above counterbalance. Most of the resistance to change is political, but as McLean (2005) says, organisations can easily overcome them.
Indeed, Kurt Lewin said that an organisation’s impetus to change mainly depends on action research (McLean 2005). He said the research included three processes – unfreezing, changing, and refreezing stages (McLean 2005). The unfreezing state requires an organisation to understand the need to change, while the change stage involves the introduction of new behavioural models to redesign an organisation’s culture. The refreezing stage cements these new organisational processes, thereby reinforcing the organisational development process.
Since organisation development is also a human resource issue, researchers say a psychological contract between employers and employees defines these changes (McLean 2005). Stated differently, this contract defines how employees perceive change. Myer Briggs proposes four dichotomies, which employees use to do so – extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perception (Quenk 2009). Overall, this analysis shows that organisation development has a strong human relation assumption, which highlights the role of teams, leadership, and employee motivation in the process.
Techniques and Processes to Develop Teamwork and Leadership Capabilities
Organisations often have different options for developing teamwork and leadership capabilities in the workplace. For example, they could work harder, smarter, or change the organisation’s culture. By working harder, the organisation could enhance employee discretion effects and improve social dynamics, or create common goals for all team members, to improve productivity.
By working smartly, the organisation could allow teams to manage themselves, apply skills and knowledge to improve employee performance, and allow innovative team working practices to flourish if they want to achieve the same goal. The last option of changing the organisation’s culture involves team inclusion in workplace redesigns, and reduced limitation structures to improve workplace coordination. This strategy is pivotal to improving leadership capabilities.
Measuring the Contribution of OD
Different metrics for measuring organisation developments exist. They include measuring output goals, measuring internal system rates, measuring system resources and adaptations, and measuring organisational culture change (Jain 2005). Depending on an organisation’s resources, a company could use different techniques to measure the above metrics, including survey methods, focus groups, and the likes.
After investigating different aspects of OD, this paper shows that the concept is diverse. However, it has human resource assumptions that underscore the need to involve employees and managers in the process (OD has a strong relationship with HR). At the same time, organisational structures and cultures should support OD processes. This way, it would be easy to minimise change resistance and realise the desired organisational goals.
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