Efficient and Effective: Why You Should Earn Your MBA in Organizational Consulting

Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric
Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric

Even the most successful companies often require an outsider’s perspective on how they do business. Part of the reason for their success is recognizing that there is always room for improvement and that there is value in conferring with experts. That is where organizational consultants come in.

Organizational consultants are independent contractors retained by a company to assess its operations and develop a plan to improve its efficiency and ultimately increase its profitability. These consultants require a thorough knowledge of business, organizational theory and project management. In most cases, they have developed this knowledge through a combination of higher education and experience in the field.

What is Organizational Consulting?

Organizational consulting is an organizational leadership master's degree concentration that is available in your MBA studies. This concentration focuses on the assessment, research and discovery of potential solutions to many different business problems. These problems can include issues with personnel and staffing, organizational teamwork or group-to-group interactions.

Essentially, this concentration will develop your skills in the understanding and improvement of business organizations. With a masters in organizational leadership or organizational consulting, you’ll be able to lead effective organizational changes and develop initiatives that can positively impact businesses and non-profit organizations.

What is an Organizational Consultant?

Professional organizational consultants use a wide variety of skills and techniques to significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of a workplace. They may address a business’s lack of productivity or work to improve the overall morale of an organization. This profession will often work with a company’s human-resources department to develop interview questions that create a more effective hire, and they may study a company and provide feedback on how an organization can improve their processes.

Organizational consultants are often employed by consulting firms, and do not necessarily work within the company itself. For example, The Smith Company may hire Johnson Consulting, which employs the organizational consultant. The consultant would then work with the Smith Company as an independent contractor, yet remain an employee of Johnson Consulting.

Where do MBAs in Organizational Consulting Work?

Companies in all industries and of all sizes may contract organizational consultants, indicating that organizational consulting professionals ply their trade in a wide variety of environments. Fortunately, the skills they bring to bear apply to something all of these diverse businesses have in common: an organizational structure. Whether a company manufactures microchips or facilitates e-commerce solutions, the concepts of how to get the best use of human and material resources remain largely consistent.

Organizational consultants may be solo operators, partners in boutique firms or agents of transnational consulting firms. Some of the big names in organizational consulting include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG, according to a recent study from IDC.

What Skills do Organizational Development Consulting Firms Look For?

Learn.org identifies the following principle responsibilities for the position:

  • Organizational Assessment: By close observation of day to day operations, research and interviews, the consultant develops an understanding of a company’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Change Management: Once a plan has been developed, how can it be enacted? The consultant guides management and personnel through the process of shifting problematic behaviors and working more efficiently.
  • Problem-Solving and Team-Building: An expert external presence can cut through blocked lines of communication between staff, provide outside-the-box recommendations for dealing with obstructions and bring together stakeholders.
  • Meeting Design: Poor meeting procedures can severely stifle the usefulness of these gatherings and impede productivity. In a real way, organizational consultants can help personnel re-learn how to communicate with one another.

Meeting these challenges requires a professional with an inside understanding of how successful businesses operate, and the insight to make the lessons gleaned from this study transferable. Therefore, employers are looking for candidates with a relevant academic background and a proven knack for personnel management.

How are Organizational Consultants Trained?

While many veteran consultants entered the field when only a bachelor’s degree was required and developed a strong resume of direct professional experience, today most employers prefer candidates with a graduate degree in business, such as an MBA. Today there are a number of MBA programs which offer specializations in organizational consulting.

Spring Arbor University’s online MBA is one such program. Offering a fast-track option which can be completed in as little as one year, or a traditional path requiring a minimum of 18 months, this top-ranked program augments core lessons in international business, finance, marketing and more with a focus on behavioral science and organizational leadership.

Graduates will find themselves well-positioned to pursue entry-level jobs in organizational consulting, a field with an average salary range between $71,000 and $142,000 per year.

Professional Roles in Organizational Consulting

Positions in organizational development or leadership consulting, grouped by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) under the umbrella of management consulting, can come with substantial salaries and growth opportunities. The USBLS reports that the median annual salary for management consultants in 2018 was $83,610, an amount well above the average for the traditional MBA graduate just out of school (with salaries closer to $50,000).

Many who commit to a career in organizational consulting can see movement up the corporate ladder: these consultants can achieve senior status, meaning they can play an even larger role in big strategic moves, and can even be made a partner of their corporation. As an added perk, management consultants are in high demand since they serve such a crucial role in the success of a business’ operations.

Accordingly, the USBLS projects a 14 percent increase – meaning more than 118,000 new jobs – in the management consultant field by 2028.

Bringing the Christian Faith to Organizational Consulting

The exhilarating pace, heightened responsibilities and substantial salary means that positions within the field of organizational development or leadership consulting are competitive. Graduates from Spring Arbor University’s online MBA program with the Organizational Consulting Concentration can distinguish themselves from their competitors with the strong Christian focus that the curriculum provides.

Spring Arbor University’s coursework encourages an ethical and moral framework derived from the central teachings of the Christian faith. When companies seek organizational consultants, they often look for professionals that possess a strong moral foundation and work ethic, as they know these individuals will be more likely to dedicate themselves to their clients and make smart, ethical decisions on behalf of their company. These are the essential characteristics that Spring Arbor University aims to foster in their online MBA students.

Add to these distinctions the convenience of an online graduate program – offered with a full curriculum students can complete at their own pace – and Spring Arbor University’s online MBA with an Organizational Consulting Concentration can become one of the savviest selections for the start of a successful organizational consulting career.

Job Outlook with an MBA in Organizational Consulting

An MBA with a concentration in organizational consulting can open up a variety of career paths.

Management Analyst

With an MBA in organizational consulting, you could move into a career as a management analyst. These professionals work directly with a company’s management team to improve efficiency and effectiveness. They often make recommendations to management and work with leadership teams to ensure the changes are being affected properly.

While this career generally only requires a bachelor’s degree, an MBA with a concentration in organizational consulting would make a prime candidate for many positions. And don’t worry about under-earning for a master’s graduate; the profession has a median salary of $83,610 and the top 10 percent earn over $152,000 a year. The position also has an expected growth of 14 percent, doubling the growth of the average job market.

Administrative Services Manager

People working in these organizational management jobs are responsible for planning and directing support services for an organization, which can take many different forms. They may supervise administrative personnel, recommend changes to improve operations or monitor facilities and repair schedules. From record-keeping to mail distribution to the basic upkeep of an office, administrative services managers help keep a business running by handling the essential elements that may not necessarily have contact with clients or customers.

Like management analysts, this profession can expect a sizable income and excellent job growth. The median salary for this career is $96,180, and the top 10 percent command annual earnings over $165,000. With an expected growth of 7 percent (2018-2028), you can rely on this career for a consistent, steady job market.

Director of Talent Acquisition

This position is all about finding the right people and putting them in the right places. Large companies have complex needs, and many of them need so many team members that simply finding the right people takes a large staff. By hiring a director of talent acquisition, organizations give themselves a dedicated professional who understands how to create proper hiring strategies, interview processes and talent development.

This position is similar to a human resources director, but they are more detailed, generally more trained and more focused on the large-scale strategies. For example, rather than conducting interviews, a director of talent acquisition will design an interview strategy that will be used by the HR team. They may research training techniques, initiate workforce retention programs and manage the execution of team-management systems.

Organizational Effectiveness Consultant

Sometimes a simple tweak in a business’s operational process can make all the difference in productivity and profitability. As an operational effectiveness consultant, you would specialize in processes, including logistics, supply chains, resource acquisition and client-employee interactions. The goal, essentially, is to enhance the operations of an organization, no matter what those operations might be.

In this position, you’ll need to take the time required to fully understand an organization, as well as the leadership team and work processes that create an effective company or group. With a concentration in organizational consulting, you’ll have the right mindset to ask questions and find the right information, allowing you to improve an organization’s effectiveness and processes.

Four Key Areas of Organizational Development

When Jack Welch took over the reins as CEO of GE, the company was worth one billion dollars. When he retired 19 years later, the company was worth 130 billion dollars.

How did he do it? Welch used a combination of vision, leadership, business know-how and his own determination to create a nimble company that understood its customers’ needs and had a motivated workforce that was driven by the leader’s vision for the company. Of course, we can’t all be Jack Welch, and in truth we may not all need to be, but the practices he introduced at GE are exactly the same practices you will learn when you complete an MBA in Organizational Development online at Spring Arbor University. The program is divided into four main areas – Organizational Psychology, Groups and Teams in Organizations, Organizational Culture and Strategy and Organizational Culture.

Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychology is the study of how employees act in the workplace. It seeks to understand performance and motivation, and the effect the right training and mentoring can have on an individual. From a practical perspective, organizational psychology can help an MBA graduate identify issues in his or her own workplace and help employees overcome them through leadership, attitude and motivation.

In Welch’s case, he saw that the organization had too much bureaucracy, was making too many assumptions about the strength of the business, and had a very formal environment that was stifling innovation. He simplified the organization and created a more informal atmosphere, (employees called him “Jack”), that encouraged people to communicate new ideas and fresh thinking.

Groups and Teams in Organizations

This course will give you the tools you need to build and manage groups, help with conflict management, and improve productivity and organizational effectiveness. For example, dismantling the bureaucracy that prevented innovative thinking at GE became every employee’s responsibility; management hierarchy was removed and replaced with individual ideas and intellect.

Organizational Culture and Strategy

Change can often be unsuccessful in companies because processes and systems are not compatible with what the organization seeks to achieve. This part of the MBA program explores innovative approaches for organizing the business with a transformative and competitive strategy through structuring, processes and culture. In GE’s case, this meant making change part of the entire culture, and seeing change as an opportunity – not a threat.

Organizational Consulting

How does an organization go about convincing its outside vendors to react to change? What happens if there is resistance to change from within? With Spring Arbor University’s online MBA in Organizational Development, you will learn best consulting practices, explore contracting, assessment and diagnosis, data collection, feedback techniques, implementation of planned change initiatives, as well as resistance to change and other internal issues.

As part of his transformation of GE, Welch would hold informal meetings with groups of employees. This not only gave employees a chance to voice their ideas for change, but also gave Welch the opportunity to measure how deeply the culture of change had affected the company.

While you may never have the opportunity to transform a Fortune 500 company as its CEO, the skills learned in Spring Arbor University’s online MBA in Organizational Consulting will equip you with the tools and confidence you will need to manage change wherever your career takes you. It will help you be a more effective leader who understands team psychology and dynamics and can comfortably manage change in whatever level you find yourself.