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Consulting Skills and Leading Change Program

How you can develop effective internal change agents for your organization.

The Need

HR Professionals and/or Line Managers

Forward thinking Human Resource departments have changed the way they think about value added HR work. Research has repeatedly identified two sets of skills characterizing effective HR professionals. One set deals with their effectiveness as consultants and agents of change. The second overlapping skill set deals with their ability to help line managers improve the effectiveness of the line organization. This latter set is typically labeled organizational development skills. In the past, HR has focused on developing the administrative HR functions, such as benefits, compensation and recruiting. The consulting and organizational development skills needed in current HR jobs, on the other hand, are foreign to many and require a good deal of effort to acquire.

In addition, it has become commonly recognized that future line managers also need to be effective change agents. They cannot do this without learning how to lead teams that effectively act as internal consulting teams to senior management in their organization. These future leaders need to understand the key issues relative to:

  • Organizational development
  • Team effectiveness
  • Leadership
  • Facilitation of teams
  • Change dynamics
  • Internal consulting

Program Goal

To develop a cadre of Human Resource professionals and line manager, who can effectively support the organizational improvement efforts required to move your Enterprise towards its vision of the future.

How is this program different?

The main differences between this and other programs on the market are:

  1. A strong belief that people learn these competencies in real change applications on the job. Therefore, action learning and coaching on the job are significant components of this program. Because the program is spread out over two years, you don't have to make up artificial projects for learning purposes; real projects can be found that fit into the program's schedule.
  2. A strong belief that these are serious and complex issues, which cannot be learned in two or three days, no matter how good the workshop. In addition, we believe that no one author has all the answers on these complex issues, which we learn more and more about daily. Therefore, this program uses the best books, articles, audio tapes, films, etc. to help the participants learn. Summaries and job aids are made available at no cost on computer disk to participants for easy future reference; we are not in the business of selling paper.
  3. Because of the focus on real problems and of how we structure the overall program, the attendees will become a positive force for change within the organization, as well as, a support group for each other. In every organization we have done this, the positive impacts on the team of participants has been one of the noted benefits of the program.

Key Objectives

Participants will

  • Develop a full understanding of their role in organizational improvement, accept that role, and develop confidence in carrying it out.
  • Be able to
    1. develop an effective contract with line management for work to be done,
    2. understand their role in helping make the organizational intervention successful,
    3. develop the specific skill and knowledge needed on typical organizational improvement projects, and
    4. monitor the progress of their consulting work.
  • Be able to independently identify, develop and implement smaller scale organizational improve-ment projects. They will be able to work as an effective partner with outside consultants on large-scale, complex organizational improvement projects.
  • Develop an individualized self-development program to accomplish the above objectives with the help of the instructors, classmates and the sponsor.
  • Be engaged in at least one organizational improvement project at all times during the development program. This will provide the action learning needed to apply new skills and knowledge and provide a return on the development investment to the sponsoring organization.

Key Elements of an Effective Program

The following is based on our experience in successfully implementing this program over a five year period. We consider these to be the key elements of a successful change effort aimed at developing consulting change leadership and OD skills in program participants:

  • The effort itself must be seen as a significant organizational improvement or change effort. As such, it must be supported by the top HR person and General Manager of the enterprise; this has worked well at the division level. The top HR person should participate in the program; both the top HR manager and GM need to "walk the talk."
  • A key supporting element for HR is moving from a functional structure to a generalist concept. The key here is getting HR participants to identify much more with the needs and the success of the Business Unit and much less with the needs of their functional discipline.
  • Participants' roles and responsibilities need to be redefined, clearly outlining their consulting and OD role and its relative importance to their overall job.
  • Reward systems (i.e., appraisals and promotions, etc.) must be linked to acquiring the new competencies and successfully applying them in the enterprise.
  • This effort must be understood to take time and needs to be accomplished over a minimum of two years for each participant.
  • Seminars and readings must be combined with action learning in order for new skills to be acquired. All participants should be required to develop their own organizational development projects. Participants should be expected to progress from relative simple OD projects to moder- ately complex OD projects by the end of the program. Participants will need on-going coaching from a seasoned OD professional to help them be effective in their new role. In this effort some participants will quickly emerge as more effective and knowledgeable; they should be used to coach those who acquire the skills more slowly.
  • The planned seminars should be tailored to address real world OD issues the enterprise is currently facing. For example, a business unit may be trying to revitalize the workforce after a downsizing; such an issue should be addressed in the next workshop in the series.

Benefits of this Program

The main benefits to your organization, depending on whether you involve line managers or not are:

  1. Significantly increased capacity of the HR department to partner effectively with the business units in order to improve organizational effectiveness.
  2. Development of future line executives who understand what an effective organization is and how to handle the associated changes.
  3. Reduction in the costs of outside consultants.
  4. More effective utilization of outside consultants, when you do use them.
  5. Development of the HR department as a team.
  6. Increase in HR morale as professionals see you making a significant investment in their future.

Format

The typical format for this program is six two-day sessions spread out over two years. This allows sufficient time between sessions for action learning and coaching, as well as, engaging in assigned learning activities. Workshops should be held off site, away from the day-to-day distractions of the business.

The workshops are highly interactive, with very little lecture material. Most cognitive material is presented in readings and audio books as pre-work, which is integrated into the workshop activities.

Examples of Materials Used

Books

    Flawless Consulting - Block
    Discontinuous Change - Nadler, Shaw, Walton
    The Lessons of Experience - McCall, Lombardo, Morrison
Audio Tapes
    Built to Last - Collins, Porras
    Fifth Discipline - Senge
    Leading Change - Kotter

Other Materials

    The Service Profit Chain - video - Heskett, et.al.
    The Wisdom of Teams - video Smith, Katzenbach
    Twelve O'clock High - leadership movie

Partnering with Internal OD or HR staff

Partnering is encouraged and welcomed. We feel this often makes for a more effective program. A good internal change agent will help reinforce the messages of the program continuously and will provide effective and timely coaching. Such a person can either be a co-leader role in the workshops or a coach after the workshops, or both. Such a partnering arrangement gives the internal staff a platform to build its own credibility and influence.

Costs

The fixed cost for each two-day workshop for groups of 15 or less includes: one instructor, instructor preparation, and a moderate amount of tailoring of the program and materials to the client organization. Such tailoring would include changing the flow of the workshop, substituting more applicable cases or materials, and some editing of materials to meet client needs. Any tailoring not covered will be discussed with the client before work is begun. For groups larger than 15 a second instructor may be needed at an additional cost.

Coaching between workshops is done by phone or in person, depending largely on the desires of the client and design of the program. This can be done on a fixed fee basis or a daily or hourly rate.


Copyright © 2008 Richard M. DiGeorgio & Associates. All Rights Reserved.

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