I want a job in human systems

I am interested in the field of organisational development and human
systems. What qualifications, experience and skills do I need to specialise in
this area?

Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS Consultancy

Start by gaining some experience in a generalist HR role. If you already
have a degree, the next step is to enrol on the CIPD professional development

Organisational development is all about understanding how people think and
work in relation to business objectives. It is important that you learn how to
design development programmes that meet both the individuals’ aspirations and
the organisation’s needs.

The people aspect can be covered by a qualification or reading in
psychology. Textbooks based around the work context are particularly relevant.

Understanding business is a combination of learning in the work environment
and academic reading. The skills required are difficult to quantify, but a
logical and business focused approach to organisation issues is definitely a
good start. Highly developed interpersonal skills will also enable you to deal
with the people issues.

John Baker, head of practice, Macmillan Davies Hodes

OD as a function within HR is often misunderstood. In essence, it is the
name given to those practices in the life of a company which seek to improve
the way it works – not from a process or technical point of view, but through
the human system and inter-relationships within the company.

It focuses on the interactions between people, and has a major role to play
in cultural change programmes. In a number of cases, external consultancies are
used by major corporations to provide external expertise for such projects.

As for entering this specialisation, I recommend acquiring an OD based
qualification, such as an MSc in Organisational Behaviour. This will make you
more attractive to both the corporate and consulting markets.

You could also approach organisations directly, as well as through
recruitment consultancies – particularly the larger employers, as they often
have a dedicated function for this specialism.

If you do have previous HR experience, you may find the transition easier by
seeking an internal move to an OD based role within your current employer, to
gain the experience necessary.

Victoria Wall, managing director, Victoria Wall Associates

This is a broad subject and consequently there are a number of areas you can
specialise in. If you are a graduate, you might consider taking an MSc in
Organisational Psychology, or an MA in Human Resource Management. The former would
be more specific, and is a well-respected qualification.

If you are not a graduate, I recommend taking a degree in HR or Business
Organisation. There are so many to choose from these days, that it would be
essential to research the course content, and choose a degree that enables you
to focus on organisational development.

Experience in a relatively large organisation with direct responsibility for
planning or managing work-flow and staffing issues would be relevant, along
with a proven ability to think strategically and solve problems.

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