In some countries, an Organizational Development (OD) Consultant is referred to as “Industrial-Organizational Psychologists”. OD consultants are experts who analyze an organizational or corporate environment, after which they will recommend changes to improve employee productivity and morale. Being an OD consultant usually requires a master’s degree as well as strong business experience and professional certifications from OD professional associations.
OD consultants apply principles of Human Resource Management and Industrial Psychology to company problems on personnel, administration, management, sales and marketing. Some of the activities under OD are policy making, employee screening, training and development and organizational analysis. OD consultants are usually not a part of the organization. Instead, they are external parties or independent firms who regularly works with the organization’s management to reorganize the work setting to improve worker productivity.
So how does one become a successful OD consultant?
1. Complete your undergraduate degree program. OD is an area to be studied in courses related to Human Resource Management or Industrial Psychology. You may want to choose electives or classes that focus on OD, although educational statistics say there aren’t a lot of OD courses at the undergraduate level.
2. Complete a Graduate Program. Assuming that you have started working and have accumulated a number of years of solid business or corporate experience, it’s now time for you to enroll yourself in a graduate program with courses that are specific to OD, leading to an Organizational Development degree.
3. Earn certifications. Together with your academic qualifications and solid work experience, it is now time to operate independently as a consultant. For you to operate as a consultant to companies, your abilities should be verified by credible certification bodies or organizations. For example, a most OD consultants have a Six-Sigma certification, which means that the consultant possess high knowledge in this particular business improvement process.
4. Solidify your portfolio. Continue to gain professional experience by offering your services to a variety of companies. Advice them on change management, mergers, succession planning and other OD-related topics. Build a strong team and be a good coach or mentor to your juniors.
As an OD consultant, your work style is very important. You will be working with different groups as you have a dynamic client base. The job requires you to analyze information and use logic to address work-related issues and problems. Your clients must be able to depend on you. Integrity, flexibility and persistence are important characteristics for an OD consultant. More importantly, your stress tolerance must be high and your innate concern for others’ welfare must dominate your work values as a Organizational Development Consultant.