Well – it is “official” !!! The American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section (voluntary association of attorneys) has designated October 11, 2018 as Ombuds Day!
There was much talk of Ombuds Day at a recent Ombuds Committee meeting at the ABA Dispute Resolution Section conference last week in Washington, D.C. Here’s a photo of the group with Roy Baroff, NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds (on the left facing you in the back row).
Look for future information for both local, state, and national celebrations.
It’s nice to know that we ombuds finally have our very own day!!
The NC State Faculty Ombuds Office was profiled in a recent article jointly published by The Journal of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds and the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association -“Ombuds and Conflict Resolution Specialists: Navigating Workplace Challenges in Higher Education.” The article explores various ombuds practices and impacts on an organization based on research conducted by Nova Southeast faculty member Neil H. Katz and two of his graduate students Katherine J. Sosa and Linda N. Kovack.
The researchers identified three primary functions of an ombuds and/or conflict resolution office including (1) addressing constituent issues, (2) educational outreach, and (3) system review. In each area the ombuds sought to positively impact both the individual and the institution by providing ombuds services within a framework of independence, confidentiality, informality, and impartiality.
Overall the impacts were seen as positive and the researchers conclude that institutions that support ombuds and/or conflict resolution programs “are implementing ‘best practices.'” It’s certainly the goal of the NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds office to support constructive engagement around conflicts or issues of concern. And, doing so, may help all utilize best practices and promote a vibrant workplace.
17 zone meetings in 6 days with 250 people.
That’s part of the NC State Staff Ombuds services roll out!
Over the past three weeks I’ve met with Housekeeping Zones across NC State. I’ve met folks at 6:15 a.m., just coming off their shift and 6:30 p.m., just getting started. I’ve met folks with 29 years work experience to three days!
I appreciated the warm welcome from Zone managers and all who attended and folks demonstrated a solid understanding of the staff ombuds role by offering on point comments – you’re not HR, but you could still help with a workplace issue (yes) – and asking some great questions ranging from “Where does the term Ombuds come from?” (It’s from Sweden) to “How much does it cost?” (there’s no charge as it’s part of the many benefits staff receive here at NC State).
My overall take away from these meetings is that NC State has outstanding Zones and outstanding employees that keep the campus clean and allow for all to work and learn! To be sure, there are likely some issues (that’s true in any work place) and it is my goal for the Staff Ombuds Office to be of service in resolving workplace concerns.
Thanks again for the hospitality and see you around campus!
I recently saw an Ansel Adams exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art and along with iconic shots of the west, I was captivated by a 1932 photo of the Golden Gate before there was a bridge (the bridge opened in 1937). Adams lived in San Francisco, in the Baker Beach area, and apparently spent a good bit of time in and around the bay taking pictures and exploring the Marin hills. Here’s a print of the photo that is now up in my office.
So, what does a conflict look, feel, and sound like without a bridge? How do we conceptualize and build such a bridge? Or, do we really want or need a bridge? These and other questions speak to me in this photo and, while as the Faculty & Staff ombuds, I certainly don’t have all the answers; I will work with you to figure out if you want or can build or perhaps find a bridge across a conflict.
Maybe the bridge is a referral to existing services or a facilitated conversation or it might just be the time in my office where you share an issue with the knowledge that it stays in the office unless you decide otherwise (with a few exceptions). My experiences to date suggest that spending time reflecting on and discussing an issue or conflict provides clarity to the dispute and often generates some options for next steps. Sometimes you can envision a bridge that does not yet exist. Thus, I invite you to come by, enjoy the print, and we can also talk about some issue of concern.
As I meet faculty leaders across campus and explain the role of the NC State Faculty Ombuds, I ask them to think in terms of – What can the Faculty Ombuds do for you? Specifically as it relates to leaders, let me explain.
Recently in a meeting with faculty leaders, I asked for a show of hands – How many of you have ever had someone come to your office mad/angry/upset/etc., about something that was part of your work? Did you feel personally attacked? Most hands shot up! (no surprise)
Now suppose that person showed up at your office with a calm demeanor, with an “us against the problem” mentality instead of “me versus you” framework, with a willingness to think about the situation from both their own and your perspective, and discuss multiple options for resolving the situation? Lots of heads nodding and smiles across the room. This sounds pretty good.
Now, I can’t “promise” this happens after every visit to the Faculty Ombuds Office; however, when people meet in a confidential setting, share strong emotions about a situation, think strategically about the matter, and consider options for resolving the situation, then the opportunity to find solutions in partnership increases. If you want faculty members with issues/problems/concerns to show up to your office in this frame of mind then ask them to visit the Faculty Ombuds Office first!
Part of an ombuds role can be thought of as a way station along the road (issue/concern/conflict) to be traveled. A place for a short break, to regroup, rest, get focused, and prepared for the journey ahead.
Let me know what the Faculty Ombuds Office can do to help you.