Describe the Process Consultation

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  • Topic: Motivation, Management, Organizational structure
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Describe the process consultation. Discuss when it should be used and how it applies to organization development. Process consultation (PC) is a general framework for carrying out helping relationships. It is oriented to helping managers, employees, and groups assess and improve processes, such as communication, interpersonal relations, decision making and task performance. Schein argues that effective consultants and managers should be good helpers, aiding others in getting things done and in achieving the goals they have set. Thus, PC is more a philosophy than a set of techniques aimed at performing this helping relationship. The philosophy ensures that those who are receiving the help own their problems, gain the skills and expertise to diagnose them, and solve them themselves. Thus, it is an approach to helping people and groups help themselves. Schein defines process consultation as “the creation of a relationship that permits the client to perceive, understand, and act on the process events that occur in (her/his) internal and external environment in order to improve the situation as defined by the client.” The process consultant does not offer expert help in the form of solutions to problems, as in the doctor-patient model. Rather, the process consultant works to develop relationships, observes groups and people in action, helps them diagnose the way they are carrying out tasks, and helps them learn how to be more effective. In the OD literature, team building is not clearly differentiated from process consultation. This confusion exists because most team building includes process consultation—helping the group diagnose and understand its own internal processes. However, process consultation is a more general approach to helping relationships than is team building. Team building focuses explicitly on helping groups perform

tasks and solve problems more effectively. Process consultation, on the other hand, is concerned with establishing effective helping relationships in organizations. It is seen as key to effective management and consultation and can be applied to any helping relationship, from subordinate development to interpersonal relationships to group development. Thus, team building consists of process consultation plus other, more task-oriented interventions (Cummings & Worley, 2009, p. 253). Describe the key success requirements for a microcosm group intervention. A microcosm group consists of a small number of individuals who reflect the issue being addressed. For example, a microcosm group composed of members representing a spectrum of ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and races can be created to address diversity issues in the organization. This group, assisted by OD practitioners, can create programs and processes targeted at specific problems. In addition to addressing diversity problems, microcosm groups have been used to carry out organization diagnoses, solve communications problems, integrate two cultures, smooth the transition to a new structure, and address dysfunctional political processes. Microcosm groups work through “parallel processes,” which are the unconscious changes that take place in individuals when two or more groups interact. After groups interact, members often find that their characteristic patterns of roles and interactions change to reflect the roles and dynamics of the group with whom they were relating. Put simply, groups seem to “infect” and become “infected” by the other groups. The following example given by Alderfer helps to clarify how parallel processes work. An organizational diagnosis team had assigned its members to each of five departments in a small manufacturing company. Members of the team had interviewed each department head and several department members, and had observed department meetings. The team was preparing to observe their first meeting of department heads and was trying to anticipate the group’s behavior. At first they seemed to have no ‘rational”...
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