Implementing a Consultants Philosophies and Strategies

Each consultant develops their own processes to meet their clients' needs. There are a number of strategies you can use to focus on issues that require action. Implementation is key to sustaining your recommendations. This rests highly on the ability of the company you are consulting with to make the necessary, successful organizational changes.

In order for you to facilitate the adoption of specific philosophies and strategies on the factors that require action you will need to assist in creating the vision, motivating change, developing support, and managing and sustaining momentum.

This may require a number of systems-thinking techniques, and a shared vision. This will also require a degree of training.

An implementation plan, monitoring, and tracking mechanisms will help you ensure that the factors that require action have actually been acted on.

Organizational change is the process where organizations transition from their present state, to some form of desired future state, to increase their effectiveness. In order to make an impact on the factors that require action, you must to help employees and business owners find new and improved ways of using resources and capabilities to create value. The targets you should focus on include human resources, functional resources, technological capabilities, and organizational capabilities. In order to implement factors that require action, you assist the organization on the resistance to change at the organizational level, the functional level, the group level, and individual level. Your actions will include diagnosing the organization and its cultural needs, determining the future state, implementing actions, and evaluating these actions.

In the consulting capacity, you help organizations understand how they create value and strategically align the processes that create value. This value is a system of inputs and outputs that are placed into your company's conversion process. It is how you manage these processes that provide you with competitive advantage. This competitive advantage results from the core competencies of your employees. You develop this competitive advantage by leveraging the core competencies into specific short- and long-term goals for the company. These goals are facilitated by managing the environment and exerting control over activities that create value for the organization.

Human resources

The factors that you will help the client organization change include investment in training and development activities, so that employees can perform their jobs better through new skills, changing the organizational norms and values into a culture that motivates a diverse workforce, adopting a promotion and reward system that helps drive the culture of performance improvement, and implementation of recommendations, socializing employees to the organizational changes in culture to impact organizational performance. And finally, to modify the top management team to improve organizational decision making.

Functional resources

The consultant helps each function of the organization develop procedures that allow it to manage the environment it faces. Functional resource management means that you transfer resources where the most value can be created. In this manner, non-utilized functions decrease, while efforts are put into the critical functions to help them grow. Organizations improve their value by changing their culture, structure, and implementing better technology.

Technological capabilities

Consultants encourage the use of technological capabilities and innovation. The ability for a company to develop a constant stream of new products and services helps it attract new customers and develop the organization's core competencies. The consultant's job is to help the organization improve the way goods and services are produced to increase quality and reliability. This is truly the capability of the organization. The inability of an organization to transfer technical capabilities into commercial opportunities stifles the organizational change process.

Organizational capabilities

Consultants assist organizations by designing structures and cultures to harness human and functional resources. This organizational change involves the relationships of employees, and how they interact, to increase their ability to create value. It is necessary for organizations to adapt to change to survive. In order to effectively adapt to the needed changes, a business process re-engineering often must occur. Business process engineering should occur with the product or service in mind, and the customer's desire in the forefront. Business process engineering cuts across the functional boundaries to facilitate delivering goods and services better, at a higher quality and a lower-cost. Restructuring is similar to re-engineering and occurs when managers change tasks and authority relationships in the organizational structure to improve its effectiveness. They move functions from one divisional structure to another, to alter the environment in a manner that appears most effective.

As you assist the organization in determining the desired future state, you assist in determining what changes need to be implemented. In order to implement action, you have to identify impediments to change at the group, team, and individual levels. Once these are identified, you must have someone within the organization who actually is responsible for making the changes and controlling the change process. Companies have the option of employing internal or external change agents. Internal agents are those who work within the organization and are knowledgeable about the issues. External agents are those who are consultants brought in from the outside, and are experts in managing change. You will assist in facilitating the two levels of change. These include:

  • The top-down approach, where changes are implemented by managers at a high level in the organization. This approach often results in restructuring and re-engineering, and is a top-down change where the results are expected to reverberate down through the organizational levels of divisions, functions, and individuals.

  • The bottom-up approach is implemented by employees at lower levels of the organization, and rises to the top, until it can be felt throughout the whole organization. In this type of change implementation, employees are involved in the process and provide their input, lessening resistance to change.

When you have factors that require action, the consultant is also responsible for designing the plan for change, or providing input to company management.

  • This is done by developing criteria to determine whether change is necessary to assist with developing the ideal future state.

  • Developing a plan to reduce resistance and facilitate change

  • Developing a program of quality management to keep the organization's mindset of change management

There are a number of techniques consultants can use to reduce the resistance to change and better facilitate action on implementation of factors that have not been addressed. These include:

  • Education and communication

Education and communication help to reduce resistance by letting employees know what is going to happen. You can use your internal and external change agents to help employees understand how the change will affect them. Communication methods must be explored, including how the messages will be conveyed -- such as email or information screens throughout the facility. Communication helps to foster employees' cooperation and an understanding that implementation factors need to occur.

  • Participation and empowerment

When employees are invited to participate in the change process, they feel a degree of empowerment that also allows them to be involved in the decision making -- and ultimately provides them with greater autonomy. The result of this is improved organizational performance. In this type of environment, workers are encouraged to share their skills and talent to propel the organization. This is a good opportunity to include financial incentives for employees who are producing above and beyond the necessary requirements. By allowing workers to make decisions, it takes some of the responsibility off of middle managers within the organization. This provides an even greater level of organizational efficiency and accountability.

  • Facilitation

Facilitation is when the consultant helps the company to establish new tasks in roles after change takes place. This often becomes confusing after an organizational change, because employees are required to perform new tasks that may be unfamiliar to them, and it has a stressful effect on their operations. The facilitator helps explain process changes, and gives the employees a comfort level with the new work process.

  • Bargaining and negotiation

Bargaining and negotiation are important in overcoming resistance to change, because change often causes conflict. Negotiation helps employees understand how the change will affect other employees in the organization as a whole, and they are able to develop a common perspective on the change, and why it is important.

Team building is a common method used to improve relationships in an organization, because it serves as a practice session for groups to participate together to improve their interactions.

As companies develop their philosophies and strategies to impact factors that require action, they use the tools of strategy and structure. Strategy and structure provide the overall guidelines within an organization to implement changes. If the strategy and structure are implemented, they are used to leverage the organizational learning process, where employees' desire and ability to improve the environment becomes a conscious continual decision. As a learning organization, employees continually raise the level of organizational effectiveness. Quite often, these improvements are developed through innovation. To help improve the chances of implementation and effective cultural change, employees should always be allowed to have a level of innovation and creativity to help build the overall knowledge of the organization.

As a consultant, you will also assist the company in recognizing the implications of managing conflict, politics, and power. In this case, you should realize that politics are a fact of life within organizations. As such, company management needs to help employees develop the skills to understand how this affects organizational decision making. Employees also use their own personal power base to influence decision making, by affecting the political mindset within the organization.

In order to create the most successful environment to impact action on factors that require attention, these actions are used:

Creating the vision

When creating the vision, the management of the company must clearly articulate to the employees what they are trying to accomplish. They must let employees have input into the vision they are trying to achieve. This vision must be realistic, and based on the strategic plan. Employees grow tired of the rhetoric of the "improvement of the month" and must actually feel how this change will make an improvement.

Motivating change

This includes your approach to providing information to the employees about the reality of the change, and how it may be accomplished. Employees need to have the opportunity to have their concerns addressed, and have input and involvement.

Developing support

Consultants and company management are responsible for developing the support needed to move for the changes. Sometimes this is in the form of political support, where power is used to determine where resources and influence will be used within the organization. Individuals with the most power are those who have credibility, expertise, and integrity within the organization. It is important to recognize these needs for support, because power shifts across functional levels of the organization. In order to align the power with the change effort, you will determine those who have the most political clout within the organization, and reach out to them for support and guidance in moving forward with your change efforts.

Managing and sustaining momentum

Sustainment for efforts is the most difficult part of managing change in any organization. Similar to any other improvement effort there must be activities put in place to spread, sustain, and control the improvement effort. A good way to sustain this momentum is to offer employees performance management systems, including setting goals, rewarding good behaviors, and sharing the accomplishment of goals with employees. This also gives you an opportunity to address performance issues, as they occur, in a proactive manner, so that everyone is moving in the right direction to make improvements.

Additional organizational change implications

As an organization changes, managers must determine the need to change functional structure to improve operational activities. They must also determine what type of integration is needed to support functions and improve the team structure. Designing the optimal organizational structure is a challenging task. Management has the daunting task of re-allocating authority and responsibilities. Depending on the complexity of the organization, this may be a difficult challenge. It is important not to overlook this, though, because many companies ignore the inherent problems in the management of their employees and their organizational processes. This often results in waiting too long to deal with problems, or make a proactive response.

Remember that the organizational culture is a shared set of values within the organizational members. How you train employees, and how you treat them, affects the true reflection of how they act. If you expect good results from employees, you must display the actions that you want them to mirror. The organizational culture greatly affects organizational effectiveness, and provides your company with a competitive advantage. In this case, it is your duty to increase the motivation of employees in order to further organizational interest.

Summary Reminders and Takeaways

There are a number of philosophies and strategies you can use to impact actions that require attention. The most difficult part of implementing recommendations from the consultant is to effect the cultural changes needed to make improvements. Second, the difficulty in the cultural change is the need to spread and sustain the improvement going forward.

You will need to assist in creating the vision, motivating change, developing support, and managing and sustaining momentum. This is called organizational change. Organizational change is the process where organization's transition from their present state, to some form of desired future state to increase its effectiveness. The targets of organizational change include human resources, functional resources, technological capabilities, and organizational capabilities.

Human resource factors include operations that help employees perform their jobs better, change the organizational norms, adopt a reward system, improve the culture, and improve socializing. Technological capabilities are those implemented in the organization to help make work processes more efficient. Organizational capabilities use top-down approaches and bottom-up approaches to implement change within the organization.

Additional techniques consultants can use to reduce resistance and facilitate better action on implementation, include education and communication, participation and empowerment, facilitation, and bargaining and negotiation. It is the strategy and structure within the organization to provide the overall guidelines for improvement and changes. Another key component of this is to leverage organizational learning, so employees desire to make improvements and have the ability to continually make them in their work. In a learning organization, employees continually raise the level of organizational effectiveness.