No discussion of managing change would be complete without including organizational development. Organizational development (OD) is not an easily defined single concept. Rather it is a term used to encompass a collection of planned change interventions build on humanistic democratic values that seek to improve organizational effectiveness and employee well being.
The OD paradigm values human and organizational growth, collaborative and participative processes, and a spirit of inquiry. The change agent may be directive in OD; however, there is a strong emphasis on collaboration. The following briefly identifies the underlying values in most OD efforts.
1. Respect for people: Individuals are perceived as being responsible, conscientious and caring. They should be treated with dignity and respect.
2. Trust and support: The effective and healthy organization is characterized by trust, authenticity, openness and a supportive climate.
3. Power equalization: Effective organizations deemphasize hierarchical authority and control.
4. Confrontation problems shouldn’t be swept under the rug. They should be openly confronted.
5. Participation: The more that people who will be affected by a change are involved in the decisions surrounding that change, the more they will be committed in implementing those decisions.
What are some of the OD techniques or interventions for bringing about change?
Sensitivity Training: It can go by a variety of names – sensitivity training, laboratory training, encounter groups, or T-groups (training groups) but all refer to a method of changing behavior through unstructured group interaction. Members are brought together in a free and open environment in which participants discuss themselves and their interactive processes, loosely directed by a professional behavioral scientist. The group is process oriented which means that individuals learn through observing and participating rather than being told. The professional creates the opportunity for participants to express their ideas, beliefs, and attitudes and does not accept in fact, overtly rejects any leadership role.
The objectives of the T-groups are to provide the subjects with increased awareness of their own behavior and how others perceive them, greater sensitivity to the behavior of others, and increased understandings of group processes. Specific results sought to include increased ability to emphasize with others improved listening skills, greater openness, increased tolerance of individual differences, and improved conflict-resolution skills.
Survey Feedback: one tool for assessing attitudes held by organizational members, identifying discrepancies among member perceptions and solving these differences is the survey feedback approach.
Everyone in an organization can participate in survey feedback, but of key importance is the organizational family – the manager of any given unit and the employees who report directly to him or her. A questionnaire is usually completed by all members in the organization or unit. Organization members may be asked to suggest questions or may be interviewed to determine what issues are relevant. The questionnaire typically asks members for their perceptions and attitudes on a broad range of topics, including decision making practices; communication effectiveness; coordination between units; and satisfaction with the organization job peers and their immediate supervisor.
The data from this questionnaire are tabulated with data pertaining to an individual’s specific ‘family’ and to the entire organizations and then distributed to employees. These data then become the springboard for identifying problems and clarifying issues that may be creating difficulties for people. Particular attention is given to the importance of encouraging discussion and ensuring that discussions focus on issues and ideas and not on attacking individuals.
Finally, group discussion in the survey feedback approach should result in members identifying possible implications of the questionnaire’s findings. Are people listening? Are new ideas being generated? Can decision making, interpersonal relationship, or job assignments be improved? Answer to questions like these, it is hoped, will be in the group agreeing on commitments to various actions that will remedy the problems that are identified.