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Organizational Development in OB: Characteristics, Values, Objectives, Goals, Prerequisites, Process, Interventions

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Concept of Organizational Development (OD) in Organizational Behavior (OB)

"Organizational development can be defined as a set of social science techniques designed to plan and implement change in work setting for purposes of enhancing the personal development of individuals and improving the effectiveness of organizational functioning." OD is the concept regarding strategies approaches for managing planned change in organization. This enables the long term effort of organization to improve its vision, empowerment, learning and problem-solving processes.

OD improves conducive climate for implementing change through ensuring well-being of employees. This helps to improve the organizational performance and effectiveness. In OD concept, changes are intentional i.e. in the wish of management and support of employees. This is a method of facilitating change in organization with solving human and social related problems.

Also read: Change in OB: Process, Planned and Unplanned, Magnitude, Forces, Resistance, Approaches to Managing

Characteristics of Organizational Development (OD) in OB

1. Planned

Organizational development is planned and intentional development activities to manage change. Management ensures the well being of employees with change. The outputs of the change activities are predetermined and action plans are prepared accordingly.

2. Long term

OD is the continuous and long term effort as its aims cannot be attained at short run. Long term horizons are set first, employees as well as managers are convinced and then action plans are prepared and implemented. It may take years to attain the change goals.

3. System wide

OD is initiated throughout the organization. It covers all the systems and sub-system so that its positive effects spread throughout the organizational uniformly. Change in only one area cannot change the organization in total.

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4. Top management led

Under this concept, change is initiated from top level. Top level managers lead the OD movement.

5. Visioning process

OD is a visioning process. It involves of creating vision of the desired future of the organization.

6. Empowerment process

OD does not become possible without the participation of employees in this process. They need to use their competencies in change process. For this, employees are made autonomous in decision making. They are empowered through involving in decision making and recognizing their right decisions in change process.

7. Learning process

OD requires a learning organization. Employees need to learn new knowledge, skills and procedure. They have to change attitudes and accept continuous improvement in knowledge. OD enables employees to accept change with acquiring new knowledge. Organization should invest in human resource development.

8. Problem solving process

OD is problem solving process as it is initiated problem related to status quo. To break the technology hindering the process, to change system constraining the productivity and productivity, OD is designed.

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9. Collaborative culture

OD maintains collaborative culture as the change is not possible through the effort of individual employee, manager or unit or department. OD is the essence of cooperative culture in which each member of organization pays effort for common objective. With motivated employees for change, each member realizes the team member which enjoys the benefit of membership. This promotes the performance-oriented work culture.

10. Team work

OD encourages employees working in teams. To create new idea, skills, procedure and techniques, joint effort in team plays vital role as building blocks of organization.

11. Consultant facilitator

Accepting change is quite easy in the organization but managing change is more complex and important. Thus, to manage change, organization can get consultant facility from outside experts. They facilitate planning, executing and managing change.

12. Behavioral interventions

OD aims to intervene the behavior of employees as well as top management against resistivity to change. They become positive and ever ready for accepting any type of change in responsibility-authority structure, technology, way of doing things, etc. OD makes people working for new.

13. Action research

OD are initiated to solve problems. To identify problems, action research are required to conduct. Thus, action research is the back bone in OD interventions.

14. Focus

OD focus on human and social relationships. It becomes successful only when harmonious relationship in the organization.

Organizational Development (OD) Values in OB

Organizational change aims for overall change in organization. It is implemented with collaborative effort of top management and employees from each department and units. OD is based on certain morale or principles or verdicts. Verdicts or convictions about 'what is desirable and what is not' in organizational development which provide guidelines for OD implementation. Humanistic democratic values are underlying values of OD. Following are important values in OD:

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1. Respect for people

OD creates harmonious human relations in the organization so that there will be mutual respect and honor. This helps to feel dignity and self-respect. Individual perceive themselves as responsible, conscientious and caring. This improves team work.

2. Trust and Support

OD creates mutual trust, openness and supportive environment in the organization so that each individual gets and provides suggestion in need. They will support to each other to attain goals of change. People are encouraged for optimistic values.

3. Power equalization

Effective OD emphasizes in power sharing for employee empowerment. Employees are made autonomous for making decisions regarding change. Vertical hierarchy is flattened to decentralized decision making. Concepts like control and coercion are least emphasized instead of these, democratic values are practiced in organization. This helps to equalize the power.

4. Confrontation

Problems are openly and willingly confronted i.e. faced in the organization. Action researches are conducted to identify problem in real sense. Problems are openly accepted but not skip or overlooked.

5. Participation

OD becomes possible with collaborative approach. Team efforts are encouraged to implement change. For this, each member of the organization is encouraged to contribute at utmost level. They are supposed to be participated in each decision making and implementation process.

6. Spirit of inquiry

Spirit of inquiry is encouraged to each employee so that employees will be more serious and sincere for identification of problems and solving them.

Also read: Team in OB: Nature, Types, Building Effective, Processes

7. Employee well-being

OD is based on good human relations. It always thinks for overall well being of employees. Spiritual, cognitive and physical upgrading is planned along with planning for change.

Objectives and Goals of Organizational Development (OD) in OB

Business organizations are facing increasing competition along with globalization. Change is essential to improve the competitive advantages. For long term change culture is possible through OD. Thus, objectives and goals of OD are determined by needs of change in the organization. Following are common objectives and objectives of OD:

1. Organizational effectiveness

To attain organizational effectiveness through effective use of organizational resource is primary goal of OD. OD seeks to improve the organizational effectiveness through power equalization, autonomy at work, maintaining supportive climate and increased productivity. It aims to satisfy employees for accepting change.

2. Employee well-being

Employees are key factors in attaining success in organizational development movement. They first have to accept changes that are going to implement in the organization. Thus, employees need to be satisfied. For employees satisfaction, OD aims to improve and ensure their well-being. Employee well-being can be ensured through individual development of employees, interpersonal competencies, change-based reward system and improved quality work life.

3. Conflict management

Conflict can be converted into organizational benefits as it can be used to improve productivity. But, the level of conflict should be within management control. Thus, conflicts should be identified, used for organizational productivity and should be solved if it becomes counterproductive. Conflicts are normally created because of change initiations in the organization. Thus, OD aims to manage the conflict through open confrontation strategy.

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4. Collaboration

Change in organization is possible with the positive effort of each employee but is not possible through single effort. Organizational development, thus aims to increase collaboration among the employees so that they wish to work in teams. OD aims to create learning environment in organization so that each team member shares learnt ideas and gains new ideas from others. So, to develop collaborative culture in the organization is another important aim of OD.

5. Environmental adaptation

It is well known that each organization need to face political, legal, socio-cultural, economic, technological, and global environment. Change is necessary to adapt and overcome the influences of such forces. OD aims to overcome the negative effects of such environmental forces and adopt in new business area.

6. System wide change

OD aims to initiate change throughout all the systems of organization. It makes each component of organization equally competent so that they can work for organizational.

Prerequisites to Organizational Development (OD) in OB

1. Top management's commitment

OD is possible only when there is strong commitment from top level management for change. During OD, there can be change in different areas like techniques, machinery, responsibility-authority relationships, etc. In such changes, top level management must be ready either in changing responsibility-authority relationship or in investment for new technology. Thus, OD requires top management's commitment as one of the requirement to make it success.

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2. Strong and influential managers

Managers plan for change and initiate change to improve quality of goods and services. To make OD successful, some strong and influential manager are required so that they commit for change, change the attitude of other managers, supervisors and employees for accepting change. Such managers are the change agents.

3. Capable external consultants

External consultants are external change agents. They facilitate to internal change agents by means of training and consultant advice. Such consultants help to identify the area for change, diagnose real problems, nature of problem, and probable solution. Competency of such consultants determines the extent of success of OD in the organization.

4. Successful past experience

If the organization has experienced similar changes at past too and such events were successful, this increases the chance of being the current OD processes successful. Experienced organizations have maintained technology, techniques, skills and knowledge from previous experience which will be beneficial.

5. Built in reward system

Reward system should be unbiased. Managers should aware for providing equitable rewards. Better performer should automatically get the rewards. Rewards and compensation should be automatically fixed. Thus, to increase the cohesiveness between managers and employees, OD aims to develop the reward system.

6. Internalization of OD efforts

Internalization involves the process of realizing and accepting the change processes i.e. concern regarding renewal, re-education and training, constant assessment of the organizational health and corporate excellence. These concerns should be considered the vital processes in making OD success.

Organizational Development (OD) Process in OB

OD is a complex process which involves in solving the actual problem in organization. It is long term process. It consists of different steps as these steps often overlap.

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1. Diagnosis

Basic objective of OD is to initiate change to solve problem in the organization. It is essential to identify the area of problem i.e. change essential. Thus, OD begins with diagnosis of problems. The performance gap i.e. difference between desired state of performance and actual state of performance is the problem. Top level management itself or in recommendation of quality circle can find the problem. External OD experts can also be consulted for diagnosis.

2. Data collection

After diagnosis of problem, data i.e. information regarding problems is collected. Performance gap i.e. problems are clearly identified and defined. Data can be collected by interview, observation and questionnaire. Such information help to clarify problems and make the change acceptable to all personalities in the organization.

3. Feedback and confrontation

On the basis of information collected, feedback should be given to employees. They will realize the actual problem and need of change. External consultant does not give solution to the problem directly. This is the duty of employees to identify the solution. Confrontation is dealing with the data in a constructive way. In this stage, OD team members review the information, sort out the problem, and sort out the disagreement and set priorities for change. 

4. Action planning

Action plans are the course of action i.e. directives for change actions. Clear guidelines are developed for dealing with the problems. External exports suggest alternative solution for problem. As far as possible, employees of concern department or units are encouraged to identify the action plan. Determined alternatives are evaluated for their consequences. Preparation of action plan is the starting point for implementation of change. This motivates employees to implement the change. 

5. Interventions

Implementation of action plan starts of breaking existing condition to adapt change which is termed as intervention. It can be individual interventions as well as process interventions. 

Individual interventions are initiating change from employees. Change agents motivate the employees to accept change. They assist to improve ability of employees to meet the minimum required level of competencies. Individual intervention can be done through counseling, sensitivity training and survey feedback.

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Process interventions, on the other hand, are initiating change in interaction processes. For this, teams are formed to improve the effectiveness. Process consultation and inter-group development are some approaches to initiate change. Attitudes, perception and stereotypes are changed through process intervention. 

Appropriate interventions should be selected on the basis of nature and degree of problem. Interventions should be adequate to solve the diagnosed problem. 

6. Evaluation

In this stage, effectiveness of OD efforts is evaluated to estimate impact of change in organizational effectiveness. On the basis of evaluation, any further recommendations if any, are provided for further action planning and interventions. Continuous feedback on OD interventions make the OD process a continuous process in the organization. Normally evaluation is done through employees. External consultants assist for evaluation of OD process. 

Organizational Development (OD) Interventions in OB

OD interventions are the techniques or approaches of OD. There can be large number of OD interventions but change agents can choose the type of intervention on the basis of purpose of intervention. Interventions should penetrate organizational culture of resisting change. Types of interventions cannot be mutually exclusive as they overlap too many extents. Following different interventions can be used in practice:

1. Individual intervention

In most the cases, organizational problems are rooted by means of personal shortcomings or inadequacies in skills, knowledge or motivation to change. In such situation, OD interventions are required to design at individual level so that ability and motivation of such individual can be improved. There can be different forms of individual interventions as follows:

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a. Counseling and Coaching

Some of the employees may be unaware regarding change. They may have low confidence on their ability and skills. Some of them may not identify or realize the low level of performance and hence cannot identify alternative method of doing work. In such situation, they require counseling and coaching. In counseling and coaching, consultant prepare, guide, facilitate, cheer and direct to employees. 

  • They inspire and stimulate self-awareness and develop new behavior patterns on the job.
  • They assist in learning the alternative methods for performing. 
  • Provide support and direction to such employees to adapt change effectively. 

b. Sensitivity training (T-Group)

Change becomes complex and almost impossible because of interpersonal conflict or ego. Such condition hinders the organizational change as well. Thus, it is required to intervene the behavior of individual towards others. Sensitivity training or T-Group is the training to employees which aims to change behavior through unstructured group interaction. It helps to build harmonious relationship with involvement of such persons in training. This helps to improve communication, develop leadership skills, increase in belongingness, reduction in individual gap, increased tolerance of individual differences through extending listening capacity, etc. Each member becomes aware towards own behavior regarding how this affects to others and they perceive on the behavior. This training helps to integrate individual objective and organization's objectives. Sensitivity training is conducted in the following way:

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  • Members are brought together in open and free environment in which they can discuss and interact freely. 
  • Professional behavioral scientists i.e. facilitators loosely direct the discussion. 
  • Intervention is carried by facilitators to help to move the group forward. 
  • Outcomes of such discussion or training session help each member to understand other's behavior and strengths. This helps each member to perceive the importance of other members and aware of their own perception. 

c. Survey method

Individual differences or discrepancies can be obtained through the use of questionnaires. In survey method, questionnaires are prepared to measure the individual differences. Work units or departments or whole organization can be taken as the sample unit to collect information regarding differences in individual. Survey follows following steps:
  • Interview, observation or questionnaire is used to collect information regarding the discrepancies. Perception, attitude and behavior are identified after analyzing the data. 
  • Meeting is conducted to provide feedback on the basis of data collected. Information are discussed in groups for diagnosing the problems. Participants in meeting develop remedies to solve the problems. 
  • Interventions are taken by initiating training and development activities to solve major problems. 

2. Group interventions

Group interventions are the actions designed to improve the interaction process or working relationships between individual members, among members of work groups or teams, or between groups or departments in the organization. This is done at group level. Group interaction can be follows:

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a. Team building

Team building is an attempt to assist the work group for making skillful for accomplishing job responsibility. Teams are encouraged to learn how to identify, diagnose and solve the problems in self initiation. 
Members are encouraged to:
  • set goals and priorities, 
  • analyze the performance of team
  • examine the norms, decision making process and communication process
  • examine the interpersonal relationship in the group
Thus, team building intervention is adapted when the interaction among members in group is critical for group effectiveness. 

There are few necessary conditions to make the teams more effective. Management should be careful in following basic requirements while intervening through team building:
  • There should be task interdependence among the members. If task of members are not interdependent, team building intervention does not work. 
  • Goal clarity is important. Each member should be clear in team goals. 
  • Group members should be agreed and motivated for team objectives. 
  • The group should be capable of handling some reasonable percentage of problems. They should be able to initiate some corrective actions. 

b. Process Consultation

In this type of intervention, consultant from outside the organization assist client i.e. needy person or unit in the organization. They assist in perceiving, understanding and acting upon process events within the organization. Consultation plays a role of guide or coach with advice in communication, patters, decision making and leadership style. Consultants can be more useful in setting methods of cooperation and conflict resolution. Process consultation intervention can be appropriate in solving interpersonal inter group conflicts. But it does not stress in participation of persons in process consultation because of which the process may be less effective. 

c. Inter-group development

In organization different groups need to form which should be interdependent to task accomplishment. But, many organizations fail to create significant results from group because of gap in perception, attitude and stereotypes of groups have of each other. Thus, intervention is required to overcome such problems and create harmonious relations, mutual trust and attitude of mutual interdependence. Inter-group development tries to minimize the dysfunctional conflict between the groups. For this, problem solving approach is followed which involves following steps:
  • Separate meeting of each group are organized in which member prepare the list of their perception towards self, towards other group, their belief towards other are prepared. 
  • Groups exchange their lists to identify similarities and dissimilarities. Differences are focused. 
  • Groups analyze the nature and causes of differences. 
  • Groups develop most feasible solution to improve their relations. 
This approach tries to solve the misunderstanding by creating trust, goodwill and openness. Inter-group development intervention is suitable to solve the problems created by overlapping of responsibility and authority. 

3. Organization intervention

Organizational interventions are made at organizational level covering whole organization. Following different types of organizational interventions are used:

a. Organizational restructuring

Organizational restructuring is done by changing or altering the responsibility-authority relationship. This helps in intervening coordination mechanism, communication channel, decision making approach and system, job redesigning, etc. In this type of intervention, work hours are made flexible and reward systems are changed. 

b. Task and technological changes

In this intervention, either task or technology or both are changed. Task can be redesigned with restructuring or rearranging the responsibilities. Technology is the means to change input into output. This is the modification in ways of doing things. New equipment, tools or techniques are used to intervene the transformation process. Information Technology (IT) is widely used in jobs and jobs are redesigned according to the nature of technology. Technology has greatly affected the jobs. 

c. Goal setting (MBO)

Peter Drucker in 1954 AD first time advocated that each business activity need to be directed to achieve the organizational goals. For this, goals should be set in involvement of employees. This means, if employees are involved in setting goals of whole business, they feel ownership in goals and their commitment level gets improved. Commitment of employees leads to the performance. This approach of setting goals of whole business or organization in involvement of employees is commonly termed as 'Management by Objectives (MBO)'. MBO consists of following steps:
  • Educating employees who are to be involved in goal setting process. 
  • Employees and managers meet regularly and formally and agree upon smart, measurable, accessible, realistic and time bound objectives (SMART).
  • Progress towards the chosen objectives is reviewed after some internal feedback is provided to employees. 
  • An overall evaluation is made to assess the current progress for the next cycle of objective setting and planning. 

d. Quality of Work Life (QWL)

This intervention is made with creating favorable working environment in the organization. QWL helps to ensure the well being of employees at job and economic health of organization. QWL includes the following components:
  • Safe and healthy work environment. 
  • Proper physical settings in the work place, including space and layout. 
  • Development of human potential and capabilities. 
  • Equitable rewards. 
  • Social relevance and integration. 


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