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Organizational Development: Interventions and

Empowerment.

Jun 11th, 2009 by Scott Hebert

There are many ways to affect change within an organization. Organizational development is a
change management process in which the employees of an organization are responsible for
implementing the change. Organizational development uses processes called interventions to
facilitate change. There are four types of interventions: human process, technostructural, human
resource management, and strategic. The first of these, human process, is the most common.
This type of intervention focuses on improving human interactions. Team building exercises are a
form of human process intervention that attempts to build team cohesiveness by engagement in
activities that are not related to the work environment. Technostructural interventions focus on
changing the organization by changing its structure. For example, changing the organization from
a relatively tall hierarchy to a flat hierarchy is a structural change. Human resource management
intervention focuses on changing human resource practices such as performance appraisal or
goal setting processes. Finally, strategic interventions address organization-wide issues by
aligning the organization’s strategy, culture, and environment (Dessler, 2008).

Organizational development relies on organization employees to research, design, and


implement the changes necessary to reach the organization’s strategic goals. Giving this
responsibility to employees, rather than implementing changes from the top, is a form of
empowerment. Empowerment is the act of giving employees the authority to make decisions and
the responsibility for the results. By moving decision-making closer to production, organizations
benefit from a deeper pool of production experience. Trident Tools benefited from this
empowerment process when empowered employees redesigned the materials-ordering process
and cut the order lead-time from 16 to 7 weeks. Similarly, employees in the design department
changed processes so that design time decreased from 5 years to 16 months (George & Jones,
2008).

Employee empowerment in the change management process serves two purposes. First, by
involving employees in the decision-making process, they take ownership of the organizational
changes. Participation at this level helps break down resistance to change (George & Jones,
2008). Additionally, empowerment in the form of self-managed work teams ensures that new
policies and procedures are adhered to more stringently. Research has shown that responsibility
to a team is a far more efficient motivator than the watchful eye of a supervisor (Clegg,
Kornberger, & Pitsis, 2008). Reducing resistance to change and facilitating quicker adoption of
new policies improve the chances of a successful organizational change.

References

Clegg, S., Kornberger, M., & Pitsis, T. (2008). Managing and organizations: An introduction to
theory and practice (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.

Dessler, G. (2008). Human resource management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

George, J. M., & Jones G. R. (2008). Understanding and managing organizational behavior (5th
ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Tags: human resources