The Ombuds is available to work with individuals and groups in a variety of ways. The Ombuds always honors the unique characteristics of each situation and the people involved to tailor approaches that meet the needs of visitors. Below is a list of common services offered by the Ombuds Office. If you aren’t sure whether the Ombuds Office is the right place to go, please contact us. The Ombuds Office can often be the first place to go to talk through the situation and gain the clarity that you need to determine how to proceed.
Do you want help thinking through a difficult situation or concern? Are you not sure what to do, where to go, or what your options are?
The Ombuds can help you talk through the situation and gain the clarity that you need in order to decide how to proceed. The Ombuds can share information about University policies, procedures, norms and expectations. The Ombuds can also refer you to other University or Community resources. All decisions are up to you and, because of confidentiality, you get to maintain control over what happens with the information you share.
Are you experiencing a difficult situation, disagreement or conflict with someone else at the University (student, faculty, supervisor, supervisee, colleague, peer, etc.)? Are you uncertain about whether you should address it? Are you uncertain about how to address it if you do? Have you tried to address it and it didn’t get any better?
In a one-on-one setting, the Ombuds can listen to your concerns without judgment, help you untangle and clarify the issues and explore a range of options or strategies for moving forward. The Ombuds can offer coaching to help you prepare for a difficult conversation, navigate a difficult negotiation or just generally build your skillset and capacity to address the issue independently. Because it is confidential, no one has to know you came to the Ombuds Office for assistance.
In certain circumstance and with permission from the visitor, the Ombuds can reach out to relevant individuals or offices to gather more information about an issue. The information gathered can be used to broaden perspective, clear up uncertainties, increase understanding of the issues and help the visitor generate additional options for resolution.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to find ways to have constructive dialogue when we are in conflict with others. Often, a neutral third party can help create the kind of space and process that disrupts difficult communication patters and provides people with the opportunity to share perspectives, feel heard, jointly make sense of the issues and collaborate together to determine the best path forward. So long as all people agree, the Ombuds can play the role of the neutral third party to facilitate discussion.
Ombuds frequently encourage those in conflict to engage one another directly to find collaborative resolutions to their problems. In some circumstances, however, the concerns are better resolved by shuttling information between people who are not able to engage with each other directly (for a variety of reasons). In those situations, the Ombuds can meet with individuals separately and “shuttle” communication back and forth.
As a neutral third party, the Ombuds can provide facilitation services to groups (of all sizes) who are interested in using problem-solving, structured dialogue, decision-making process and/or general meeting management to achieve their desired outcomes.
Group/Team Collaboration and Conflict Resolution
The Ombuds can help groups explore and address issues that often create challenging group dynamics or conflict; such as, change, leadership, communication, roles and responsibilities, interpersonal challenges, resource management, decision-making, trust, and more.
Workshops and Presentations
In addition to general outreach about the Office, the Ombuds offers customized (for particular groups) and general “open-enrollment-style” topical presentations and workshops on relevant topics such as conflict management, difficult conversations, interpersonal communication, negotiation and more.
The Ombuds is available to help the institution, as a whole, and large groups work through the process of change, transition and growth. The Ombuds does not make decisions or create policy, but can offer perspective, challenge assumptions and raise important questions to help decision makers ensure their processes and outcomes are fair and transparent.
Systemic Feedback and Intervention
The Ombuds is uniquely situated to be able to identify systemic and structural issues that may produce or exacerbate conflict and threaten institutional values, health and functioning. The Ombuds can provide systemic feedback and work with University stakeholders to explore effective systemic interventions and solutions.