April 30, 2007

Deciding Whether to Quit

Ombuds often consult with employees who are weighing whether to stay in their job (and address their concerns) or move on. After interviewing 50 CEO's, career consultant Eve Tahmincioglu has some advice. Some of the clues include:
  • Conversations with your boss are more about you shortcomings than strengths;
  • Your colleagues know more about what’s going on area than you do;
  • Some of your responsibilities have been taken away and given to others; and
  • You have been discouraged from joining associations or going to conferences.

Job Posting: FDA

The Food & Drug Administration is accepting applications for an "ombudsman and spokesperson for the Center Director and Deputy Center Director." The description omits any reference to alternative dispute resolution or any of the four IOA ethical tenets. The position makes it sound like the ombuds just another bureaucrat, receiving complaints, representing the director, and negotiation some agency disputes. The salary ranges from $110,363 to $143,471 per annum. Applications are only accepted by mail and are due May 10. (FederalGovernmentJobs.)

Sure, this isn't an organizational ombuds position, but it doesn't even seem to fit the USOA model.

Wharton Study on Managing Workplace Emotions

A new study from the Wharton School looks at the impact of employees' moods, emotions, and overall dispositions on job performance. The authors posit that an "affective revolution" has occurred over the last 30 years as academics and managers alike have come to realize that employees' emotions spread like viruses through the workplace. The paper distinguishes and considers the role of three different types of feelings: emotions, moods, and personality traits. In addition, they comment on research that finds that people tend to be overconfident about their ability to convey emotions by e-mail. (Knowledge@Wharton.)

Statement on Respectful Online Communication

The Fifth International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution produced a statement regarding dialog using information and communications technologies (ICT) (i.e., internet-based, dynamic conversations). The statement is aspirational and encourages individuals to:
  • communicate online with respect
  • listen carefully to others in order to understand their perspectives
  • take responsibility for their words and actions
  • keep criticism constructive
  • respect diversity and be tolerant of differences
As ombuds confront a growing number of relationships impacted by ICT, this may be a useful reference. (ODR Statement, via Mediate.com.)

[Ed. note: These principles are consistent with the Blogger's Code of Conduct, which I strive to follow.]

April 27, 2007

Ury on Saying "No"

If you haven't yet read (or bought) The Power of a Positive No, William Ury has summarized some of his own advice. At Mediate.com, Ury lists specific key words or phrases you can use in saying No to the other's demand in a way that flows naturally from your Yes, your power, and your respect. (Mediate.com.) An interview with Ury is also available on YouTube.

April 26, 2007

Mills College Students Seek Ombuds

An ad hoc group of students at Mills College has issued a demand for a student ombuds. The Committee for Change seeks to force the College to address "ADA compliance and accessibility, reinstatement of a student appointed Ombudsman, lack of resources for parenting students, and retention in both the faculty and staff and the student body." The Committee wants the ombuds to be elected, paid and supervised by the student body. If the demands are not met, the Committee is "prepared to take direct action against Mills." (Mills College Weekly, Mills College on LiveJournal.)

April 25, 2007

UT Student Govt. Backs Texas Legislation

The student government at the University of Texas, Austin has passed a resolution supporting the Texas House bill that seeks greater protection for communications involving the University ombuds. According to a student representative, the action was taken at the request of the UT Office of the Ombudsperson. "They felt it was important to help them have this confidentiality." The resolution and other efforts concerning Texas legislative reforms remain the focus of the new student government, which took office April 15. (Daily Texan.)

(Related post Texas Introduces Ombuds Shield Law.)

DC Mayor to Announce Progress on Schools Ombuds

Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to announce progress with his search for an ombudsman for the troubled D.C. Public Schools. (NBC4.com.) However, the district personnel office has no posting for an ombuds. (DCPS HR.)

Let's hope the announcement is that Fenty is starting a thoughtful and thorough search for a qualified ombuds.

(Prior posts Washington Post Urges Appointment of DC Schools Ombuds; Despite Some Council Concerns, Mayor Continues to Back Ombuds for DC Schools.)

April 23, 2007

Job Posting: Physicians Regional Medical Center

Physicians Regional Medical Center, a new hospital in Naples, Florida, is seeking an ombudsman to handle patient complaints and concerns by acting as a liaison between the facility, staff and patients and their family. No indication of salary or closing date. (Job Posting.)

UPDATE Job Posting: Centers for Disease Control

The CDC job posting has been amended to indicate that a relocation bonus may be included. (USA Jobs, Job Announcement No.: HHS-CDC-D1-2007-0211.)

(Related Job Posting: Centers for Disease Control.)

April 22, 2007

Washington Post Urges Appointment of DC Schools Ombuds

An editorial in the Sunday Washington Post urges DC Mayor, Adrian Fenty, to name quickly "an ombudsman, who will be an important bridge to parents, and someone to oversee the badly needed school repairs." Indeed, the WaPo editors view this as second only in importance to the appointment of a school chancellor. (Washington Post.) These comments seem to betray the belief that the ombuds will be classical, an issue that is not clear from Fenty's plans.

(Related post Despite Some Council Concerns, Mayor Continues to Back Ombuds for DC Schools.)

RIT Ombuds Explains Role in Quelling Conflicts

Lee Twyman, the interim ombuds at the Rochester Institute of Technology, was a guest essayist for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Twyman explains how an organizational ombuds office can provide a safety net and a safe place for individuals to raise concerns or conflicts that have been difficult to resolve, manage or raise. (Democrat and Chronicle.)

(Related Job Posting: Rochester Institute of Technology.)

April 20, 2007

Ombuds Open House at Cal Poly Pomona

The Ombuds Office at Cal Poly Pomona will host an open house on Monday, May 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. Local ombuds interested in attending should contact Dr. Glenda Brock for parking. (PolyCentric.)

(Related post: Cal Poly Pomona Debuts Ombuds Office.)

UNDP Ombuds Report Leaked

The New York Sun has obtained the annual report issued by the UN Development Programme Ombudsman. According to report (which the Sun characterizes as "not meant for publication") management ills plaguing the UNDP have not improved since Ad Melkert became the administrator last year. (Melkert is a trusted adviser to Paul Wolfowitz.) "As in the past four periods, the abuse of authority heads the list," the 2006 report concluded. According to the Sun, Melkert takes the ombudsman's annual reports "very seriously, and while there is need for improvement, there is some improvement under Mr. Melkert," a spokesman said. (NY Sun.)

(Related posts Update: UN General Assembly Approves Reform of Dispute System; Job Posting: UNDP; UNDP Ombuds Report Warns of Retaliation Against Visitors.)

April 18, 2007

Michigan Tech Names Permanent Ombuds

Michigan Technological University has named William Kennedy as the University's Ombuds Officer. Kennedy has been filling the office temporarily since the summer of 2005, when the former ombuds went on sabbatical leave. University President Glenn Mroz spoke highly of Kennedy by saying, "Bill is a very fair person, and knows the university well. I think he’s had a number of experiences both here and at other universities that made him a good choice. I think he’s going to serve the university community very well." (Michigan Tech Lode.)

April 17, 2007

Profile of New Ombuds at University of Nevada, Reno

Pamela Haney has been appointed the new ombudsman for the University of Nevada at Reno. She reports directly to the President of the University. Previously, Haney had been dean of liberal arts at Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois, where she also served as the dean of academic services at the college, a position that developed her conflict resolution skills. "My background as both a faculty member and administrator made the position of ombudsman attractive to me," she said. (NevadaNews.)

(Related post UNR Interviewing Ombuds Candidates.)

University of Hawaii Touts Ombuds Office as Campus Safety Resource

In response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the Chancellor for the University of Hawai'i at Manoa reminded the campus community that the Ombuds Office will help with any problems regarding the university. (Honolulu Advertiser.) Surely, this message is being repeated at many other institutions.

FDIC Ombuds Issues Report

The Ombudsman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has published a report outlining requests for assistance, comments, suggestions, and questions received during the last half of 2006. The key areas of concern were regulatory burdens, new compliance requirements, and the Customer Identification Program (part of the USA Patriot Act. (FDIC Ombuds Report via Banking Law Prof Blog.)

April 16, 2007

Job Posting: Centers for Disease Control

The Atlanta-based federal agency is advertising for a full-time, permanent organizational ombuds (presumably to continue the work of the interim, contract ombuds). The position pays $107,851-140,205 per year, plus benefits. Applicants must be US citizens and should have experience experience in ADR, change management, organizational design, etc. Applications are due by April 30. (USA Jobs job no.: HHS-CDC-D1-2007-0211.)

(Related posts CDC Ombuds Issue Memo to Employees; CDC's Workforce Director Offers Perspective, Cites IOA Standards; CDC Ombuds Become Focus of Sen. Grassley's Ire.)

Job Posting: Ceridian

Ceridian, one of the larger HR outsourcing companies, is accepting applications for a corporate ombudsman to be located in its Minneapolis office. However, the job description states that the incumbent will establish practices and policies, serve as an arbitor of internal disputes, and conduct investigations. No closing date or salary indicated. (Ceridian HR requisition no.: 13467.)

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanent, California's largest employer of ombuds, continues to seek applicants for its health care ombuds/mediator program. Health care experience is preferred. (Kaiser Careers Job ID: SC.0700193.)

Another Take on the IOA Conference

Frank Fowlie, the ICANN ombuds, also posts his observations on the conference. (ICANN Ombudsman Blog.)

Notes on the IOA Annual Conference

It was great to catch up with and meet new colleagues in St. Louis last week. Hopefully, everyone has made it home by now. (Let's hope the weather will be dramatically different in Boston next year!) Here are some of the things that stood out for me:
  • Daniel Shapiro's advice to understand and leverage emotions by focusing instead on the five core concerns of appreciation, autonomy, affiliation, status and role (more at BeyondReason.net);
  • Howard Gadlin's list of situations that cause him to consult the Standards before acting: strong sympathy for the visitor; an emotional reaction to the situation; past experience with the same facts or visitor; and a visitor's specific request for action;
  • David Brubaker's reminder that organizational transformation takes 3-5 years and requires a coalition (more at BeyondIntractability.org);
  • Mary Rowe's archive of Crystal Ball presentations (Appendix B to Effectiveness of Organizational Ombudsmen); and
  • Growing interest in regional ombuds meetings.
Congratulations those (re)elected to the Board (Nick Diehl, Francine Montemurro, Carolyn Noorbakhsh, David Talbot and Margo Wesley), and to contract organizational ombuds who are eligible now for full membership under the revised Bylaws.

Based on the list of attendees, the links to ombuds offices has been updated to include Walden University, Putnam Investments, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Finally, thanks for all the feedback and encouragement about the Ombuds Blog. Please feel free to forward links to your organizational ombuds website, news of regional meetings, job postings and other material.

(Related posts Balloting Begins for IOA Board; IOA Announces Annual Conference Details; Midwest Meeting of College and University Ombuds.)

April 11, 2007

Also in St. Louis This Week...

In addition to IOA, the National Rifle Association is also holding its annual conference in St. Louis this week. Hmmm...a group of peacemakers and a group that carries peacemakers. Sadly, the NRA will outdraw IOA by more than 200 to 1. (STLtoday.)

Job Posting: UCLA

The Los Angeles campus of the University of California is seeking applications for its associate ombudsperson. Although the position provides services to the entire campus, it will be responsible primarily for handling matters from the health case schools, hospitals and clinics. Salary ranges from $58,500 to $105,300 per annum. Applications are due April 27, so don't delay. (UCLA HR; related post Musical Chairs at the University of California.)

April 10, 2007

ABA Creates Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance

The American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution has announced the establishment of a Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance. Mediators may submit ethical issues related to the practice of mediation, which will provide advisory responses. This development bears watching for two reasons. First of all, some of the issues may relate to those faced by ombuds. So this may become an important resource. Secondly, this arrangement echoes the relationship between the ABA and ombuds. In other words: What business does the ABA have, telling mediators (who are not practicing law) what standards they should follow? (ABA Section on Dispute Resolution, Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance.)

Smithsonian Ombuds First to Hear of Misconduct by Managers

An internal Smithsonian investigation concluded in 2003 that top supervisors at the institution's aeronautical restoration facility in Maryland were using government employees and materials for personal projects, according to legal proceedings last year. The issue was first raised by an employee, Michael Cross, in an e-mail to the Smithsonian ombuds. Cross was subsequently terminated and filed a whistleblower lawsuit that referenced his contacts with the ombuds. The Washington Post has the story, with more details about the suit at FedSmith. The case is still in litigation.

April 05, 2007

Midwest Meeting of College and University Ombuds

The fifth annual Midwest summer meeting of College and University Ombudspersons will take place on July 30, 2007, at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb (65 miles west of Chicago). This get-together provides an opportunity for academic ombudspersons to become better acquainted and to share concerns about their unique professional roles and environments. All college and university ombudspersons are welcome to attend. For information, join the mailing list by emailing Tim Griffin: tgriffin[at-sign]niu[dot]edu. (Thanks, Tim.)

CDC Ombuds Issue Memo to Employees

In the wake of a standoff between their agency and Sen. Charles Grassley over a Senate briefing, the ombuds at the Centers for Disease Control have issued a report detailing their activities over the past six months. Although the CDC has 9,000 employees and 5,000 contractors, the ombuds recorded just 98 visitors, a figure well below what would be expected, especially considering the reports of widespread discontentment within the agency. To their credit, the CDC ombuds emphasized their compliance with IOA principles and also indicated that their office is using IOA database reporting categories. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Text of CDC Ombuds Memo; prior post CDC Ombuds Become Focus of Sen. Grassley's Ire.)

April 04, 2007

Update: UN General Assembly Approves Reform of Dispute System

The General Assembly today responded to what it termed the "slow, cumbersome, ineffective and lacking in professionalism" United Nations system of internal justice, with its "flawed" administrative review, by mandating the first overhaul since its creation six decades ago with a pledge to redress these problems. According to General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the reforms include:
A more robust informal system with the emphasis on resolving a large number of disputes between staff and managers before they go to "litigation" - a strengthened Ombudsman function for the Secretariat and its Funds and Programmes that will be integrated, yet de-centralized and with the capacity to conduct formal mediation services.

The new system is expected to be fully functional in January 2009. (UN News Centre; Khalifa's Comments; via On Holiday Travel; prior post UN Considers Unified Ombuds Office.)

April 03, 2007

UN Considers Unified Ombuds Office

It is a little-known fact that United Nations staff cannot sue in national courts. Meanwhile, cases languish in the UN's internal judicial system for years and results can be overturned or ignored by management. A recent draft resolution, titled "Administration of Justice at the UN," seeks to reform the current system. The nine-page resolution sketches a two tier system, of appeals from a UN Dispute Tribunal to a UN Appeals Tribunal. On the informal, alternative dispute resolution side, it proposes a "single, integrated and decentralized Office of the Ombudsman for the UN Secretariat, Funds and Programs." UN watchers are disappointed, however, that the tentative date for implementing the new justice system is January 2009. (Inner City Press; related posts Job Posting: United Nations, UN Development Program Ombuds Report Warns of Retaliation Against Visitors.)

Interview With New Dartmouth Ombuds

Mary Childers was appointed interim ombudsperson for Dartmouth College in February 2007. She is interviewed in today's faculty/staff newspaper about the role of the Ombuds Office and to what she hopes to achieve in her new post. (Vox of Dartmouth; related post Dartmouth Appoints Interim Ombuds.)

Former Cornell Ombuds Passes

Kenneth I. Greisen, Emeritus Professor of Physics and former Dean of the Faculty at Cornell, died on March 17, 2007 at age 89. Greisen served as University Ombudsman from 1975 to 1977. (NY Times.)

April 02, 2007

Survey: Unclear Expectations Top Reason New Hires Quit

According to a survey of more than 2,000 HR and training executives, unrealistic expectations about their job and their new organization is a major reason why as many as one-fourth of new hires leave within the first year. The clear theme of the survey results is that employees and companies do not adequately communicate enough information to ensure a good match. The experts advise companies to work on creating community so that employees have a sense of community. (HR News.) The objective is workplace happiness and higher productivity, which just happens to be the latest subject for the legal sanity blog by Arnie Hertz.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Proposes Solution for CDC Ombuds and Sen. Grassley

Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rethink its refusal to make ombuds available for questions from Sen. Charles Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee. The AJC editorial board proposes that CDC's director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, free the ombuds of any concerns that talking with Grassley might jeopardize their mission and Grassley should not expect the ombuds to disclose confidential issues. In addition, Grassley could also make a transcript of the meeting available to CDC employees so there is no question about what was discussed.
In the end, the ombudsman program at the CDC will only be successful if employees see it as independent of Gerberding and willing to address their concerns. A briefing for Grassley should help, not harm, that mission.

(Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

April 01, 2007

CDC's Workforce Director Offers Perspective, Cites IOA Standards

Tomorrow's Atlanta Journal-Constitution features an editorial by Dr. Stephen B. Thacker, who directs the Office of Workforce and Career Development at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thacker downplays the confrontational nature of the recent exchange between the CDC and Sen. Charles Grassley over the senator's demand for a briefing by the new CDC ombuds. Thacker emphasizes that the CDC initially declined the request out of a concern to protect the ombuds' confidentiality and independence. Nonetheless, Thacker is optimistic the CDC ombuds can reach an agreement to provide information for Congress while being true to IOA Standards. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Prior Ombuds Blog post CDC Ombuds Become Focus of Sen. Grassley's Ire.)