Frequently Asked Questions
What Exactly is an Ombudsperson?
An Ombudsperson is a neutral third party who is not an advocate for any institution or individual. She acts informally, independently and confidentially in gathering information from employees experiencing conflict at work, and helps them to evaluate their options for reaching a resolution. The Ombudsperson's chief goal is to orient individuals toward solving workplace problems on their own.
The Ombuds Office does not keep long-term records of individual contacts, but it does report to the President about general trends in conflict at the College, and recommends proactive approaches to managing conflict in the work environment.
What can I expect from the Ombudsperson?
You can expect the Ombudsperson to listen to your account of conflict at work, and to help you take responsibility for your part in resolving it. She may do this in any of the following ways:
- Suggest communication and problem solving skills and strategies, and help you evaluate your options
- Help you clarify your thoughts, emotions and experiences as you prepare for difficult conversations, sometimes by using role play
- Mediate the disputes of conflicting parties
- Refer you to resources outside the Ombuds office when appropriate
- Design and conduct conflict resolution programs aimed at developing lasting, cooperative approaches to communicating effectively at work
- Review rough drafts of letters to colleagues, with an emphasis on neutral language that conveys your concerns without antagonism
- Identify to the College President patterns of conflict at Kenyon
Please understand that because the ombuds office is an informal, independent channel, the Ombudsperson cannot:
- Settle disputes (The Ombudsperson is not a judge or an arbitrator)
- Advocate for anyone
- Tell anyone what to do
- Make formal records
When should I contact the Ombudsperson?When you need to discuss a problem at work-whether it has lingered for years or arisen this week-come and share your concerns, evaluate your situation, and plan your next step, should you choose to take one.