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Part 2 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

As shared in Part I of this column, this column was inspired by a blog written by the Office of the Ombuds at the University of Iowa (See: https://uiowa.edu/ombuds/top-ten-reasons-why-people-dont-consult-ombuds-office .) Where Part I focuses on points seven through 12, Part II discusses points one through six.

6."I don't believe the ombuds office is confidential, and I am afraid that my supervisor will find out that I visited the ombuds and I will get in trouble." As ombuds, I am duty-bound to be a confidential resource for you, prohibiting me from sharing any information about your visit with another employee, including whether you visited with me or not (unless I hear about "imminent risk of serious harm"). Please know that I take this confidentiality seriously. In addition, even if your supervisor somehow did learn of your visit (not from me), MC is "committed to providing ombuds services to the College community" to assist "in managing conflict constructively and to support positive change." (See Montgomery College Policy and Procedure, 39001, College Ombuds.) President Pollard, the Board of Trustees, and many others intend for these services to be available to each and every MC employee who wants to use them, and thus, no one should be getting in trouble for using the services.

5."I don't want the way I've handled the situation to be 'second-guessed' or criticized." The ombuds is not here to criticize or judge you in any way; remember the ombuds serves in a neutral capacity. If anything, the ombuds is here to help you clarify your views and choices, including sharing information on applicable policies and procedures, and to offer possible solutions to your conflict. In addition, the ombuds is here to help provide additional perspectives, if appropriate.

4. "Once I call the Office of the Ombuds, the situation will be out of my control." You, as the visitor, get to decide how you want to move forward, including whether you want to visit with the ombuds in the first place. You are very much in control of what *you* do in all cases except where the ombuds hears about "imminent risk of serious harm" to a person or the College; upon hearing of impending serious harm, the ombuds has the discretion to break confidentiality to help ensure the safety of anyone at risk.

3."I don't want to 'air my dirty laundry' outside of the work unit." Solving a workplace problem so that you (and others, potentially) can be productive and focused at work, is not only important to you, as an employee, but it is also important to MC, generally. Sharing critical and relevant information to begin problem solving, where the goal of the sharing with the ombuds is to improve your situation, is not the same thing as "airing dirty laundry". Also, since the ombuds is a confidential resource, what you are sharing with the ombuds, stays with the ombuds (unless "imminent risk of serious harm" is invoked).

2."I don't want to be seen as or see myself as a 'complainer.'" Talking freely about an issue so that you can resolve it is not the same thing as excessively whining about an issue for no productive reason. You are welcome to visit with the ombuds office to talk openly about any workplace issue so that you can help yourself move forward.

1."I have heard that some administrators and supervisors, including my own, do not support the use of the ombuds, and that they actually encourage employees to stay away from the office." I am sorry if any supervisor or administrator has ever discouraged you or other employees from visiting with the ombuds. As an MC employee, you definitively have the invitation and right to come see the ombuds if you would like to do so. (See point six above.) In addition to having the President, Board of Trustees, and many others fully support the MC ombuds program, having an ombuds program is a best practice in large and complex organizations to help employees manage conflict. In fact, the MC ombuds program is one of over 200 such programs that serve academic institutions across the country and the world.

Meanwhile, if you are a supervisor or administrator and you have some concerns about the Office of the Ombuds program, I invite you to reach out to me so that we can address and, hopefully, eliminate your concerns. As a confidential, informal, neutral, and independent resource, I am here to assist all employees through workplace conflict in a safe and confidential space.

My hope is that after reading this list, you, an MC employee of any level, division and tenure, may be more open to consulting with the ombuds. However, please let me know if you have any additional reasons that have been holding you back from making an appointment with the ombuds. If so, I would like to talk with you about your concern.

To make an appointment with the ombuds or to suggest a topic for this ombuds column, please email me at ombuds@montgomerycollege.edu or call me a 240-687-6188.

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