Become an Organizational Development Consultant

Organizational development is an attractive field for businesses that are in search of solutions for operational inefficiencies. If you’ve thought about becoming an organizational development consultant, it is a promising option for someone who wants professional flexibility and doesn’t necessarily want to be tied down to a single organization. Likewise, given that over one-third of organizational development clients have less than 100 employees within the company, consulting services are in high demand, because organizations often don’t have the resources to hire a full-time employee in this capacity. Consultants are given a unique opportunity to glean executive insight by meeting with management teams, in addition to working side-by-side with individual contributors, allowing the advancement toward healthy, resilient, and innovative businesses.   

Below is insight into why you should consider becoming an organizational development consultant.

Demand for organizational development consultants

Businesses need organizational development consultants in order to solve the most complex organizational issues. Categorized within the management analyst field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the organizational development field is expected to expand by 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, resulting in an increase of 115,200 jobs. This is primarily driven by companies’ desire to eliminate costs and increase revenue.  

Today’s workforce climate dictates that companies create efficiencies, make complex tasks simple and easy, and eliminate waste. Organizational development consultants can do all of those things. In this role, you will promote and expand an organization’s leadership team, create communication strategies, and foster a learning culture that consists of innovation and information sharing. All of these traits are exactly what companies look for when there is a need to cut new costs and leverage existing resources.

Organizational development consultants are also leaders for change management. For decades, studies have proved a 60 to 70 percent failure rate for organizational change projects. Organizational development consultants are responsible for helping companies cope with the changes they are recommending, and seeing the process through implementation and beyond.

Organizational development consultant job description, responsibilities, and work environment

What does an organizational development consultant do, exactly? An organizational development consultant works with companies to maximize professional relationships and improve work coordination among individual employees and groups. In large part, the role of organizational development consultant is to observe engagement and interaction between peers, subordinates, and management within a business. Once all the necessary information has been gathered, organizational development consultants take the collected data to gain an understanding of what allows the business to function and what is getting in the way. Organizational development consultants need to know the best way in which an organization learns. It is also essential to learn how a company understands and implements change so that you can establish a cultural climate that will succeed.   

Organizational development consultants meet with managers and executives to identify areas of concern and create a plan for observation and review. Once the necessary information is gathered through active listening, questioning, and observation, organizational developers organize, analyze, and present both quantitative and qualitative data to the client and assist them in interpreting the results.

Depending on the client’s needs, organizational developers may also provide strategies and models for improving organizational effectiveness, paying close attention to the work culture, resources, and structure. Once feedback is received from the client, you will develop a final intervention agreement that best meets the client’s needs. Organizational developers also have the potential to be in charge of implementing these improvements and evaluating the effectiveness of the implementation. Once implementation is fully completed, organizational developers create a self-sufficiency plan for ongoing use.

When you are a consultant in the field of organizational development, you are given the opportunity to provide a specialized skill across multiple disciplines. This gives you the freedom to work on tasks that are meaningful and empowering, without getting caught up doing mundane tasks you will inevitably do as a full-time employee. Being a consultant also consistently gives you the chance to work with new internal stakeholders and expand your network.

Essential organizational development consultant knowledge and skills  

Organizational development consultants are curious by nature and are good at asking questions, stimulating discussion, and providing a safe space for employees to talk about day-to-day activities. While remaining approachable and natural, organizational development consultants should possess leadership-like qualities and have the ability to get staff excited about fixing unpopular issues. In this role, you must be able to effectively motivate and implement change, as well as counsel the client through the process along the way.   

The following outline provides further detail on the organizational development consultant core competencies.

Knowledge:

  • Principles and practices of organizational behavior, including culture, design, interpersonal relationships, leadership, goal setting, external and market-driven pressures, politics, and conflicts;
  • Business functions and operations, including collaboration, problem solving, use of new technology, conceptualizing, and project management;
  • Individual psychology, including learning theory, motivation theory, perception theory, group dynamics, and roles;
  • Communication and decision-making;
  • Leadership; and
  • Research methods and statistics, including basic sampling and experimental design.

Skills:

  • Gather and analyze information;
  • Manage databases;
  • Be process oriented and driven;
  • Have an eye for opportunity; and
  • Be observant and address all unanswered questions.

Abilities:

  • Develop solutions from data collection;
  • Establish rapport and credibility among an organization’s management team and employees;
  • Interact effectively with individuals of diverse backgrounds;
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing;
  • Immerse yourself as part of the company to enhance your ability to understand and empathize;
  • Influence clients toward positive changes; and
  • Coach and lead groups, even through unanticipated challenges.

Another important core competency for organizational development consultants is establishing and maintaining consistent ethical values. Managing and enhancing effective relationships, agreements, deliverables, outcomes, and behaviors is essential. These values will allow you to establish proper conduct when interaction with clients.

Organizational development consultant education and training requirements

Most organizational development consultants have at least a bachelor’s degree, however, Salary.com indicates that 60 percent of organizational development consultants have a master’s degree. More than likely, this is because a master’s degree is a great tool for increasing your knowledge and advancing your career.

The ideal master’s degree program will teach you how to be a problem solver and leader. The program should cover basic business practices and teach you how to navigate through the consulting process, including securing client meetings, providing presentations, and drawing up a reasonable contract that sets everyone up for success. The curriculum must include a heavy emphasis on both qualitative and quantitative evaluation and applied research methods.     

Organizational development consultant salary

According to Salary.com, organizational development consultants earn on average $87,928 per year, with the top 25 percent making above $101,270 and the bottom 25 percent making below $77,429. This field leaves plenty of room for career advancement as well. Below are some common promotional paths within organizational development, including average annual salaries:

Role Annual Salary

Organization development manager

$111,860

Organizational development director

$144,313

Organizational development executive

$199,635

Become an organizational development consultant

If becoming an organizational development consultant sounds appealing to you, obtaining a Master of Science in Evaluation and Applied Research will allow you to gain the necessary knowledge and experience and be performance-ready and able to contribute to any organization as soon as you graduate. Claremont Graduate University offers an Online MSEVAL program that prepares students to meet clients’ program evaluation needs. The program is designed for students who either have a background or interest in evaluation and includes well-rounded curriculum that will enhance participants’ research and analysis skills.   

Learn more about Claremont Graduate University’s Master of Science in Evaluation and Applied Research.

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