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When we talk about organizational development, we're really talking about reshaping our companies and unleashing the potential of your leaders and your employees. Exceptional and intentional organizational development initiatives can become your most sustainable competitive advantage. But how do you go about designing an organization like that, and what organizational development trends are ahead that can help you create the future your company deserves?
Executive coaching is not executive training. Coaching is different because a training program shares information and advice that the "student" learns and applies while executing job responsibilities. Leadership training is critical because it ensures people have the right information and develop the right skills. Executive coaching takes the learning journey to the next level and a more personal level.
Coaching is a self-development process. It is one of the organizational development trends – focusing on executive capabilities and abilities to manage a corporate transformation and organizational change in an operating environment full of changing challenges. Coaching challenges executives on a personal level to encourage introspection of self as a leader to leverage leadership strengths and improve weaknesses to better oversee the organization's transformation.
Another way of saying it is that executive coaching is developmental and business-focused and used to reinvent and not just reinforce the executive's leadership capabilities. The executive goes through a personal transformation process. This process strives to help executives develop competencies and capabilities that are more relevant to the current business environment, which is constantly changing and regularly experiencing new threats and risks while also experiencing changing workforce demographics driving employee needs. Executive coaching is designed to help the executive:
Innovations in executive coaching are increasing the effectiveness of the development process to lead organizations faced with constant volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VULCA). They include evidence-based coaching practices that utilize technologies. Today's best practices are based on science, including positive psychology, neuroscience (brain-based), and self-determination. They combine in-person coaching sessions and electronic or coaching platforms.
Some of the innovations enabled by technology include:
The executive development process supports executive success throughout the organizational development process. This process includes data collection and analysis feedback, designing interventions, leading and managing change, and evaluating change.
One of the important organizational development trends in executive coaching is that it is no longer recognized as being just for current executives. Coaching can also be embedded in the leadership development of high-potential employees who can assume executive-level leadership roles in the future.
Organizations are advised to develop employee voice to retain talent, strengthen inclusion, generate innovations, avoid unionization, and more. An important organizational development trend is to make improving employee engagement a primary focus by utilizing tools like employee surveys and assessments and developing and initiating employee engagement initiatives. There are many ways organizational development processes lead to employees gaining an empowering voice that improves organizational performance, adaptability, and innovations.
Leaders learn to:
One of the many challenges leaders face today is leading employees through change, a constant today, or a crisis that triggers permanent change. It's easy for employee engagement efforts to weaken when leadership is trying to cope with managing change to maintain the organization's competitive position when increasing employee engagement is what is needed. It may even require reinventing the employee engagement approach and moving from transformational to revolutionary as digital employee engagement becomes a top communication and information approach.
Intentional organizational development always focuses on the human side of the organization because it's people who make or break an organization. During organizational development, your leaders utilize a variety of strategies and tools for the planning and assessment of plan implementation and progress but always with a focus on people, including helping teams overcome impasses and helping staff overcome resistance to organizational change.
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Organizations across industries are looking ahead and finding the future has arrived. Changes predicted over the last decade are here but complicated by unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet it could be said the pandemic didn't really change the future as much as it accelerated its arrival.
For example, the utilization of technology and a remote or hybrid workforce has long been predicted to change how organizations work and communicate. When the pandemic arrived, remote work via better use of tech platforms became more than accepted. It became expected by younger generations of the workforce. Everything is changing – work, speed of competition, supply chains, customer expectations, workforce demographics, technology, and leadership needs.
Most companies continue to lead based on old rules of management, which are based on control, siloed decision-making, and uniformity. Instead, leaders need to adopt new management principles that also drive new leadership styles. These new principles include diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); connection through digital communication; increased collaboration; flatter organizations; work automation which frees employees to do a higher level of work or displaces workers; demographic shifts in the workplace, driving new work and career development opportunities.
As Deloitte says, skills are valuable, but capabilities are enduring. Capabilities transcend specific skills and "underlie the ability to learn, apply, and effectively adapt them." Effective leadership in transforming organizations embraces, nurtures, and cultivates human capabilities throughout the workforce. Their "people will have the mindset and disposition toward rapid learning that is required to thrive in an environment of constant disruption." Capabilities include imagination, empathy, resilience, teaming, social and emotional intelligence, critical thinking, adaptive thinking, and emotional intelligence.
Organizational development is often about modernizing leadership styles, making leadership development essential to organizational development. Change is no longer a single event with a beginning and end. Continuous organizational development is a process in which goals are shaped without an end destination but through continuous learning – at the leadership and employee levels. This requires leadership development that focuses on inspiring, involving, and motivating people and creating working conditions in which people can succeed by doing their best work and because they can fully participate in the organization's success. Leaders develop skills in strategizing, employee engagement, and more with a focus on continuously maximizing organizational effectiveness or competitiveness. The "continuous" makes the current operating environment different from the past.
The important difference between a change initiative and organizational development is that in the latter, leaders develop the ability to continually assess how the organization is functioning and can identify and respond with course adjustments as necessary. There is no end to the process that fits the VUCA environment that businesses operate in today.
For leaders to succeed in organizational development processes, they need to embrace innovations in team building. Remember the important leadership capabilities included imagination, creativity, and social intelligence? Organizational development trends include presenting opportunities for employees to also enjoy their team interactions by adding a personal aspect. This is very different from the old "all work-no play" perspective of traditional leadership. Following are a few ideas.
These are just a few ideas, but the trend toward offering these opportunities reflects the importance of giving employees avenues to do something together besides work, especially during an organizational transformation which can be quite stressful. New generations of workers refuse to feel like the proverbial cog in the wheel.
As you have probably realized at this point, there is no single strategy for developing and implementing successful organizational development processes. The organizational development trends include adapting the development process to the organization rather than relying on traditional or standard approaches.
Each organization has a unique transformation need, each organization's leaders are at a different stage of development, and each workforce has specific needs. One of the most important roles of the organizational development consultant is to help management get a "fix" on what it will take to reframe the organization, which is no small feat. Most business leaders are too close to their organizations to be able to step back and take an unbiased view of organizational status.
The organizational development consultant is a partner and collaborator who brings expertise across industries and provides expert advice in specific areas targeted for transformation. If it's the entire organization undergoing assessment and development, a team of consultants can include experts from different business functions and areas, including Human Resources, frontline management, coaches, leadership and employee training specialists, and more.
Contact us for help with leadership development, employee engagement, labor relations, executive coaching, and organizational development.
Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.