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Conflict resolution at the Workplace Department of Public Information United Nations Ombudsman M. Patricia Durrant 28 July 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Conflict resolution at the Workplace Department of Public Information United Nations Ombudsman M. Patricia Durrant 28 July 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Conflict resolution at the Workplace Department of Public Information United Nations Ombudsman M. Patricia Durrant 28 July 2004

2 What is conflict ? What is conflict ? Any opposition or difference of wishes, needs, statements, arguments, actions or principles between two or more staff members, or between staff members and the Organization. (ST/IC/2004/4 – Conflict resolution in the United Nations Secretariat)

3 The role of staff members in conflict resolution The role of staff members in conflict resolution Conflict resolution is a key competency Deal with conflicts and grievances in a timely manner Act in accordance with the Standards of Conduct for the international civil service

4 Costs of conflicts Direct costs for handling formal cases Hidden costs of conflicts Wasted time Loss of skilled staff Low morale/productivity Health costs

5 Keys to preventing and resolving conflicts 1. Training Induction training - need for access by everybody Conflict resolution training OHRM training on conflict resolution, cultural diversity, etc. DPKO e-learning on conflict resolution, stress management, diversity, client focus, etc. (re. DPKO CTS Web Site) 2. Improved communications at the workplace Put into practice what you learn at training courses Put into practice what you learn at training courses

6 Conflict resolution in UN - Informal and formal channels Informal Ombudsman Self-help/help of colleagues, friends, supervisors, Human Resource officers, focal points for women, Executive Office, etc. Formal Administrative review Joint Appeals Board Specialized resource procedures UN Administrative Tribunal

7 Informal Early resolution Proactive/Preventive Win-win solution Before conflict escalation No administrative decisions are required No record keeping Formal Time consuming Reactive Judgments/decisions Win-lose solution After conflict occurrence Administrative decisions required Record keeping

8 The role of the Ombudsman The role of the Ombudsman As a facilitator of conflict resolution: As a facilitator of conflict resolution: by providing advice on resources available, informal mediation, informal fact finding, referral, etc. As agent for change (systemic issues): As agent for change (systemic issues): by making recommendations for change on policies and procedures

9 Working Principles Ombudsman ConfidentialityObjectivityNeutralityIndependenceImpartiality

10 Confidentiality No record keeping; no reporting of individual cases; no disclosure of information about visitors (neither to confirm nor deny) (*) No testifying about concerns brought to the Ombudsman s attention (*) (*) Except with the express consent of the staff member concerned.

11 Access to the Ombusdman All the staff members who work for the United Nations equally have direct access Irrespective of grade Irrespective of location Both international and national Providing safe environment without fear of Providing safe environment without fear of retaliation retaliation

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13 What the Ombudsman does and doesnt do Does Objective review Equal & confidential treatment Fact findings and inquiries (*) Bring concerns to appropriate office (*) (*) Only if the staff member agrees. Doesnt Disclose a persons identify Keep records Make decisions Make policies Mandate actions Serve as an advocate Testify

14 Overview of Operations (July 2002 – June 2004) 761 cases to date - received quick responses Access to the Ombudsman contributed to: Conflict resolution Withdrawal of some cases from formal system Peer Review (December 2003) Outreach activities and visits outside Headquarters PMSS Newsletter Staff Matters – disseminated information on the Ombudsman in the field Increased interaction with UN staff worldwide

15 Breakdown of cases by occupational category (2002/2003)

16 Breakdown of issues (2003)

17 Distribution of cases (2003)

18 Summary The Ombudsman, acting independently and impartiality and respecting confidentiality: provides staff at all levels in the Organization with an independent, voluntary and confidential process to facilitate the resolution of conflicts in the work place; advises staff members on problems or grievances relating to the terms and conditions of their employment, their working conditions and./or their relations with colleagues, with a view of enhancing the overall working environment; in cases of conflict or disagreement, assists the parties to reach a fair solution through informal fact-finding, informal mediation and discussion, and makes recommendations in order to bring about a resolution satisfactory to all concerned parties;

19 (contd) creates work-place well-being by promoting cross- cultural awareness and fostering values, ethical behavior, fairness, equity, acts as a resource for best practices in relation to the function of the Ombudsman, and facilitates the exchange of information and experience in this respect; develops and implements communication and outreach strategies to educate staff with respect to the role of the Ombudsman and the services offered; and advises the Secretary-General on issues and trends affecting staff and makes recommendations on preventive action and, as necessary, on changes in employment and working conditions, and outlines organizational changes that may be necessary.

20 Conclusions Be encouraged to resolve conflict at early stage, at the lowest possible level Keys to conflict resolution are training and practice of improved communication skills Be advised of the role of the Ombudsman – facilitator of informal conflict resolution Be advised of equal access of those who works at the UN irrespective of level or grade of the staff member Call us if you need assistance and clarification

21 Contact Information Office location: S-1800 Intranet web page:intranet.un.org/ombudsman Internet: Telephone: (917) (Confidential voice mail) (Collect calls accepted) Facsimile: (917) By post: P. O. Box 4136 Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y


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