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Part I of 2 - Top 12 Reasons Why People Don't Consult the Ombuds Office

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Published: 2017-10-06 00:00:01.000

Some time ago, the Office of the Ombuds at the University of Iowa created a list of the top 10 reasons people do not visit with the ombuds. (See: I find this list to be applicable to any community, including Montgomery College. As such, I wanted to share the list of reasons and provide some helpful information responding to each concern. I have also added two additional concerns that have been shared with me over the past year at MC. Please feel free to let me know which, if any, of these concerns apply to you.

Due to space limitations, I am going to focus on points seven through 12, leaving the other six points to be discussed in part two of this article.

Here we go:

12 "I didn't know the Office of the Ombuds existed." The Office of the Ombuds has existed at MC since August 2013. My predecessor, Sarah Espinosa, and I have been doing our best to get the word out regularly via marketing materials, outreach by email, and in-person presentations. Please let me know if you think I should present to your group/organization/division. I am happy to do so! Also, please feel free to check out the Office of the Ombuds website at:

11 "I don't know what the ombuds office does." It helps employees better understand the issues at work and come up with possible paths for resolution. There is no problem too small to consult the ombuds about. And, there are many ways the ombuds can help an employee, including referring the employee to another person or office either internal or external to the office, mediating, facilitating a conversation, participating in shuttle diplomacy (serving as a liaison for parties involved), role playing (so as to empower the visitor to have a difficult conversation on his/her own), training, and more.

10 "My issue is too small; the Ombuds Office only deals with crises." Please do not ever hesitate to call the ombuds office about any size problem at any time in the evolution of the issue. I agree with the University of Iowa ombuds, who said "We encourage visitors to call us early and often: the earlier the better and the smaller the issue the better, since we [often] have a better chance of resolving the issue that way."

9 "My issue is too big. It has been going on for too long, and the ombuds will not be able to help at this time" As stated above, the ombuds office is here to help a visitor with a problem that is big, small, or anywhere in between. If you have a workplace issue of any size and want to try to resolve it, please know you can contact the ombuds!

8 "Human Resources - or the Dean's Office - or Equal Opportunity and Diversity - is already involved." While other parties may already be involved through some formal channel, please know that the ombuds is always here as a neutral, confidential, informal, and independent supplemental resource. Sometimes it helps to be able to have a conversation with another person (especially one who is there to listen actively to you and who is trained to help people find alternative options to resolve conflict). Moreover, as the ombuds, I will not share any information that you have shared with me with any other parties unless I have your express permission to do so or there is imminent risk of serious harm. Finally, while I am not allowed to engage in formal processes, through HR or the union, for instance, I am able to work with visitors before and after they participate in these formal processes.

7 "I should be able to solve this on my own." Many people believe that they should solve all issues on their own. In fact, it is difficult to shoulder conflict alone, regardless of whether you have the skills and are comfortable doing so. The ombuds office is here to help you better clarify your issues and options for resolution. Ultimately, you will be solving the issue by making the best choice for you as to how to move forward. The Office of the Ombuds is here as an extra support along the way.

To make an appointment with the ombuds to have a confidential conversation (unless one of the exceptions exists) or to suggest a topic for this new ombuds column, please email me at or call me at 240-687-6188.

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