The Role of an Organizational Development Specialist

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The Role of an Organizational Development Specialist

In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizational development specialists are extremely sought after because of their role in shaping an organization’s ability to improve operational efficiency through planned change – which is crucial to remaining competitive. Here’s what an organizational development specialist does and how you can become one.

What is an organizational development specialist?
What does an organizational development specialist do?
Organizational development specialist job description
How to become an organizational development specialist
Organizational development specialist salary

What is an organizational development specialist?

An organizational development specialist is often referred to as Head of Talent because they are dedicated to supporting and developing the growth and effectiveness of an organization through its people.

An organizational development specialist is generally considered a mid-to-senior level role and will report to a director or senior manager. They usually have several years of experience in areas such as human resources, organizational development, or business management, as well as a relevant degree in a field such as organizational psychology, organizational development, or industrial psychology.

The responsibilities of an organizational development specialist include conducting organizational assessments, developing and implementing strategies, facilitating change management, supporting leadership development, analyzing data and making recommendations, and collaborating with other departments.

While day-to-day duties may vary depending on the specific needs of a business, organizational development specialists coordinate employee training and development programs, facilitate team-building activities, introduce new technology systems, and work closely with company leaders and stakeholders to align the organization’s goals with its operations.

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What does an organizational development specialist do?

1. Conducting organizational assessments

This includes an organization’s current structure, culture, systems, and processes and involves reviewing data, conducting surveys and interviews with stakeholders, and analyzing results to identify areas for improvement. 

2. Developing and implementing strategies

Based on the results of the assessment, the organizational development specialist is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to improve the organization’s performance, efficiency, and effectiveness. This may involve designing and implementing new policies and procedures, identifying training needs, developing leadership programs, or redesigning the organizational structure. 

3. Facilitating change management

One of the most important roles of an organizational development specialist is to facilitate change management within the organization. This involves communicating the need for change, providing guidance and support to employees and management during the change process, and ensuring that the changes are successfully implemented. 

4. Supporting leadership development

Mentoring, coaching, and training programs will typically be developed and implemented to help employees develop their skills and prepare for future leadership roles.

5. Analyzing data and making recommendations

Organizational development specialists should regularly analyze data, identify trends, and make recommendations for improvement to the organization’s leadership team. They also provide ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the changes already implemented and recommend adjustments as needed. 

6. Collaborating with other departments

Organizational development specialists work collaboratively with other departments within the organization, such as HR, Finance, and Operations to ensure that their initiatives align with the overall mission and goals of the organization.

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Organizational development specialist job description

The organizational development specialist’s role is to support and develop the growth and effectiveness of our organization, working closely with leadership, managers, and employees to identify areas where the organization can improve, and they develop and implement strategies to facilitate that growth.

Roles and responsibilities

The role:

  • Conducting organizational assessments to identify areas where the organization could improve its performance, culture, or structure.
  • Developing and implementing training programs to enhance employee skills and knowledge.
  • Facilitating change management efforts, including communications and training.
  • Designing and implementing performance management programs to ensure that employees are meeting performance standards and goals.
  • Coaching managers and employees on leadership and teamwork.
  • Analyzing data and creating reports to identify trends and opportunities for improvement.
  • Collaborating with other departments to ensure that the organization is aligned with its mission and goals.
  • Promote a culture of continuous improvement within the organization and help it adapt to changes in the market and industry.

Key responsibilities:

  • Assessing the development needs of all operational, business, and functional units, as well as evaluating and overseeing the implementation of organizational development strategies and processes.
  • Leading the design, development and implementation of programs, policies and strategies customized to fulfill organizational development needs and achieve program objectives.
  • Measuring the achievement of established goals. 
  • Supporting individual development planning for executives and emerging leaders. 
  • Offering comprehensive consultation services to employees at all levels around policies, procedures, conflict resolution, problem-solving, compliance, and litigation prevention.
  • Consulting with management on performance, organizational and leadership matters. 
  • Managing performance appraisal and feedback programs and coaching managers on the performance review process and the appropriate feedback, language and documentation they should use.
  • Recommending and implementing policies and procedures based on a thorough knowledge of local employment and benefit laws.
  • Assessing and collaborating with management to address interpersonal and work-related issues, and consulting with supervisors and managers to identify suitable mediation approaches, such as coaching, skills training, or intervention. 
  • Ensuring effective and legally compliant plans to address employee performance issues and to implement performance improvement plans.
  • Collecting and evaluating input from all organizational levels regarding noteworthy accomplishments, areas for advancement, highlights, and concerns.

 Skills and qualifications

Required skills and knowledge:

  • Organizational behavior and development theories
  • Change management
  • Leadership development
  • Employee engagement
  • Project management
  • Project plan development
  • Tracking progress against goals
  • Analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Analyzing data
  • Identifying patterns and trends
  • Making data-driven decisions
  • Effective communication skills
  • Conflict management
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Workshop and meeting facilitation
  • Data analysis tools
  • Regulatory and compliance knowledge
  • Solve practical problems

Required qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as organizational development, organizational psychology, human resources, or a business-related discipline
  • Master’s degree in organizational psychology, organizational development, or business administration preferred.
  • A minimum of 2 years experience as an organizational development specialist in a related industry.
  • Extensive knowledge of skills development and capacity-building strategies.
  • Advanced proficiency in office and business administration software.

How to become an organizational development specialist

Successful organizational development specialists have a combination of education, skills, and experience:

Organizational Development Specialist Qualifications

1. Earn the required qualifications

Most organizational development specialists have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as organizational development, human resources, business administration, psychology, or sociology. If you’re serious about this career, make sure you select a program that provides a strong foundation in organizational behavior, development theories, project management, data analysis, and communication.

2. Gain relevant work experience

To stand out from the crowd and ensure your CV is noticed, look for opportunities to work with a variety of departments or industries to gain a broad perspective on the role. Focus on roles that engage with various teams, require communication and collaboration and involve training and mentoring. This is a role that connects people, teams and departments across organizations, so any experience in managing and supporting multiple teams while aligning projects to organizational goals is a bonus.

3. Pursue professional development

There are many additional certifications that will make you a better organizational development specialist, such as additional development in change management, project management, data analysis, or workshop facilitation. AIHR offers a Certificate Program in People Analytics, aimed at developing a comprehensive analytics skillset, as well as an Organizational Development Certificate Program to help you effectively apply OD techniques in your work. 

4. Consider a graduate education

Although not always required, a master’s degree in organizational development, human resources, or a related field may provide a competitive advantage for more senior-level positions, particularly positions that report directly to directors or senior leadership teams. 

5. Focus on your key skills

Successful organizational development specialists display a combination of technical and soft skills. These include having extensive knowledge of skills development and capacity-building strategies, advanced proficiency in office and business administration software, excellent leadership and collaboration skills, and superb analytical and time-management skills.

Organizational development specialist salary

Salaries for an organizational development specialist will vary depending on the location of the position and the years of experience you bring with you.

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According to Payscale, the average annual base salary for a compensation analyst in the U.S. is $66,109, while Glassdoor states the average is slightly higher at US$71,7256.

Key takeaway

Understanding the organizational development specialist role, what skills, competencies, and qualifications you need and the value you will give an organization through your responsibilities will prepare you for future interviews and ensure you gain the experience and roles you want.

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