2011-2012 Annual Report
Kenyon College Faculty and Staff Ombudsperson
In my first year as Ombudsperson, I met with twenty-one individuals with issues or concerns, introduced myself to division heads and staff, and attended group meetings to discuss perceived conflicts and issues. From these meetings and interactions, I have deduced that if individuals feel valued and respected by their employer and coworkers then issues and conflicts would decline. These observations formed my goals for the next academic year which include attending meeting facilitation training and hosting proposed workshops.
Observations and Recommendations
The overarching theme and commentary from individuals is that many faculty and staff conflicts stem from a perceived lack of respect and value from coworkers and/or supervisors. If individuals feel respected and valued as colleagues and employees then there are fewer conflicts or they are dealt with immediately and without escalation. The underlying solution is to strive to promote respect and value through all levels of Kenyon. The question becomes: How does an organization promote value and respect of employees? The simplest solution is through training and emphasizing open communication and kind and professional conduct. Next year, I plan to offer workshops that address these topics.
Visitor Demographics and Issue Categories
The Ombudsperson Office had twenty-one unique contacts in 2011 - 2012, which is slightly less but comparable to 2010 and almost half from 2009. It is unclear why 2009 had more visitors than subsequent years but it seems that the past two years have had decreased issues reported.
Of the twenty-one visitors, the issues brought to the Ombuds Office fell into three broad categories: peer and colleague relationship, evaluative relationship, and career progression and development. Peer and colleague relationships encompassed the majority of issues addressed through this office.
Peer and colleague relationships issues related to one or more of four categories: respect and treatment, bullying, communication, and retaliation. These issues were dealt with in a variety of ways, such as group meetings, referrals to other offices, and mediation between coworkers. Many individuals choose not to pursue any further action after having a one-to-one meeting to discuss the issue because having a person to talk with about the problem is enough of a solution.
Supervisory relationship issues related to one or more of ten categories with the majority relating to supervisor feedback, communication, and performance appraisals. The overarching theme was lack of communication on policies, practices, and workload. Individuals sought clarity on company policies and were frustrated with their inconsistent application.
The lone career progression and development issue related to job application/selection and recruitment. This issue was dealt with by seeking information from human resources to clarify the school's policy on job postings.
Although men and women initiated contact with the Ombuds Office equally (men 50%, women 50%), staff employees had the majority of initiated contact with faculty slightly less (staff 70%, faculty 30%).
Outreach to College
In order to introduce myself and become familiar with the nuances of different divisions, I met with the following individuals to discuss their divisions and ways I could be of assistance in the future.
- Nayef Samhat - Provost
- Ric Sheffield -Associate Provost
- Joe Klesner- Associate Provost
- Darlene Tedrow - Coordinator of Faculty Support
- Jennifer Delahunty - Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
- Teri Blanchard - Associate VP of Finance
Library and Information Services Division
- Ron Griggs - VP of LBIS
- Mark Kohlman - Chief Business Officer
- Jim Huang - Bookstore Manager
- Greg Widener - Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Maintenance
Student Affairs Division
- Tacci Smith - Associate Dean of Students
- Jennifer Cabral - Director of Human Resources
Additionally, I met with the following groups to provide training, introduce myself, and/or discuss sources of conflict.
- Discrimination Advisors Training with Robin Goodstein on Dialogue vs. Debate
- Hosted Administrative Assistant Meeting
- Attended PACT Meeting
- Attended Admission/ Financial Aid Division Meeting
Next Year's Goals
The following are my goals for the upcoming academic year as Ombudsperson.
- Host 2-3 workshops/programs each semester. If funds are approved to purchase The Center for Creative Leadership webinars, then subjects will include Workplace Bullying, Building Conflict Competent Teams, Leading Across Differences, Building a Collaborative Team, Managerial Courage: Actively Managing Conflict, and one other.
- Attend meeting facilitation training. Bolstering my skills in meeting facilitation will be beneficial for hosting the programs and workshops proposed for this academic year.
- Join the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). The IOA is the largest international association of professional organizational ombudsmen practitioners in the world. Membership will provide me with access to professional development opportunities, resources, and webinars.
- Meet with PACT once per semester.
- Continue to meet with individuals in different divisions to introduce myself and ask if there are ways I can be of assistance.