HR, OD Competencies Complement Each Other

By Libby Anderson Apr 24, 2008

Q: HR competencies have drawn a lot of attention as we work to become more strategic. What organizational development (OD) competencies should I be developing, and how do I develop them?

A: Organizational development is receiving more attention as companies engage in the global marketplace, competition increases and organizations see the need to be more proactive about change and overall business outcomes. In addition, this discipline is becoming more closely aligned with HR.

Much research continues to be done in the field of HR competencies. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Human Resource Development study module for the Human Resource Certification Institute’s certification notes a recent study that identifies six specific competencies. Because OD is tied to improving organizational effectiveness, often through planned change intervention and management, all six could apply. The roles associated with these competencies are:

  • Credible Activist: Combinescredibility and activism, often referred to as “HR with an attitude.”
  • Culture and Change Steward: Facilitates culture changesthrough the development of disciplines and implementation of strategy.
  • Talent Manager/Organizational Designer: Practices effective techniques that combine talent management and organizational design.
  • Strategy Architect: Participates and actively supports an overall strategy that maintains an organization’s sustainability.
  • Operational Executor: Understands and executes an organization’s operational strategies to support its business goals and people.
  • Business Ally: Contributes to the success of the organization by understanding the business of the business and planning change as the organization evolves.

In addition, the 2007 SHRM “Research Quarterly” titled Organizational Development: A Strategic HR Tool identifies essential competencies for organizational development professionals. Among the competencies noted are the ability to:

  • Manage the consulting process.
  • Diagnose and analyze.
  • Design and choose appropriate interventions.
  • Facilitate and process consultation.
  • Develop client capability.
  • Evaluate organizational change.

The report specifies key values that represent OD but can translate into needed competencies. These values are respect and inclusion, collaboration, authenticity, self-awareness, empowerment and democracy/social justice.

In summary, the OD competencies that are essential for the practitioner to be most effective relate to understanding and practicing these concepts: business strategy, change management and effective communications/leadership skills.

Libby Anderson M.S., SPHR, is president of EDA Human Resource Services and the Southwest Florida Employer’s Association. She is a member of SHRM's Organizational Development Special Expertise Panel and can be reached at


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