Ombuds Services

Options Discussion: An options discussion provides clients a forum to discuss their workplace issue or conflict and generate potential avenues for resolution. The Ombudsman can help identify options for the employee to explore for resolving the matter, including S/O services or referrals to other resources.

Facilitated Conversation: A facilitated conversation is an informal process where individuals meet and discuss issues in an attempt to reach resolution, gain mutual understanding, and move forward. Facilitated conversations are generally less process-oriented than mediations and are used most often to restore interpersonal workplace relationships. A facilitated conversation may end with a verbal commitment whereby each party agrees to make specific changes in order to resolve the issue.

Trend Recorder/Reporting: The Ombudsman advises the Secretary and senior management on systemic issues affecting our workforce. The Ombudsman may offer policy recommendations to address consequences of procedures and/or practices resulting in trends that offer an opportunity for constructive change.

Conflict Coaching: Conflict coaching is a technique that straddles both conflict prevention and resolution. It is a one-on-one confidential and voluntary process in which coaches work with individual clients to help them resolve disputes and prevent avoidable conflict. This may apply to a specific dispute the individual is or was involved in, or one which is anticipated. Conflict coaching empowers people to manage their personal conflicts by identifying goals for handling conflict effectively, improving communication skills, shifting reactions from detrimental to constructive, isolating and changing negative behaviors, and providing reflection on conflict interactions.


The Workplace Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center (wCPRc) Services

Mediation: Mediation is an informal process guided by a neutral third party, the mediator, who assists conflicting parties in working towards a mutually acceptable resolution. Participants hold all of the decision-making power about the mediation outcome. A mediator is impartial and does not advocate for or provide advice to the parties. The goal is for parties to voluntarily reach an acceptable resolution of the issues in dispute, which may be memorialized in writing by the parties.

Group Facilitation: Facilitation is a process in which a neutral person assists a group of four or more people in working together more effectively, perhaps through improving communication, helping examine and resolve problems, or assisting in the decision-making process. Facilitation aims to promote a congenial professional atmosphere and a lively exchange of views in a group setting. Facilitators are process leaders only—they have no decision-making authority, nor do they contribute to the substance of the discussion.

Training/Outreach: Training and outreach help educate the workforce about proactive conflict management. Training may include general presentations about topics such as email communication, conflict styles, or constructive feedback, or the training may be tailored to the needs of an office and combine information about several issues. Training or outreach can include the use of technology and audio/visual equipment when needed to close the distance between S/O and the workforce.

Climate Survey: Climate surveys are a group process that identifies shared interests, differences, problems, and opportunities for resolution and/or positive organizational change. Climate surveys offer an opportunity to highlight successes, solicit employees’ confidential recommendations, and identify proactively any issues for leadership to address before escalation. After conducting the survey, the office provides an oral report to the leadership and may facilitate an office meeting or provide training regarding issues that arise.

The Role of the Ombudsman

Overview of Roles

The Ombudsman typically hears concerns about situations that interfere with productive work. Concerns may involve a colleague, supervisor, another office, HR policy or practice, or co-worker. Issues may include interpersonal conflicts, policy clarification, and breakdowns in communication. The Ombudsman can offer an unbiased and impartial perspective and provide information on processes, policies, and options to resolve the matter. The Ombudsman can help analyze and assess avenues for conflict resolution, including assistance and coaching with both written and verbal communications.

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