Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice

****Foundations will be offered at all training events. For a list of training dates, please visit our professional development home page.

Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice (formerly Organizational Ombudsman 101)

This course covers the fundamentals of the organizational ombudsman role. It provides basic information and training for the organizational ombudsman by emphasizing the principles of confidentiality, neutrality, independence, and informality.

The 3 day course focuses on how the ombudsman works with the visitor to the office as well as how they act as a change agent within their organization. The course will allow you to practice key ombudsman skills of listening, asking questions, clarifying, generating options, and moving to actions throughout the ombudsman Process. In addition, an experienced and highly committed faculty of ombudsmen will share best practices around setting up an office and evaluating and communicating the effectiveness of the office.

The course will benefit the recently-appointed ombudsman, individuals interested in becoming an ombudsman, or anyone desiring to establish an ombudsman function in industry, government, higher education, and public or private social services agencies.


  • How the role, scope, and duties of today's ombudsman began and evolved
  • The four basic principles of the organizational ombudsman role: neutrality, independence, confidentiality, and informality.
  • Why confidentiality is essential to the practice, how to maintain confidentiality
  • How to listen as a neutral, including effective techniques for interviewing and inquiring, reflective listening, reframing, identifying issues, and providing options
  • How to manage and work with conflict by employing a battery of skills including listening, coaching, and negotiation techniques
  • How to decide which intervention would be most effective and how to provide upward feedback to management
  • How to set up and operate an ombudsman office, including the fundamentals of how to log concerns, report to management, and design reports to track issues
  • How to align the ombudsman function with the mission, values, and culture of the organization
  • How to promote the ombudsman role and function, including ways to gain and keep management support

COURSE LIMIT:  34 participants

Course includes 3 days of course instruction, all course materials, lunch and morning and afternoon refreshment breaks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and all refreshment breaks.

Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice  - Sample Agenda -
*times and topics are tentative and subject to change

Day One - Working with Principles                                                      
7:00AM -   7:55AM                   Registration
8:00AM -   9:15AM                   Introduction and Overview                                                            
9:15AM - 10:15AM                   Independence       
10:15AM - 10:30AM                  Break                                                                                                     
10:30AM - Noon                        Confidentiality                    
Noon -   1:00PM                        Lunch                                                                    
1:00PM -   2:00PM                    Informality                                                              
2:00PM -   3:15PM                    Neutrality                                                                        
3:15PM -   3:30PM                    Break
3:30PM -   4:45PM                    Challenges to the SOPsb
4:45PM -   5:00PM                    Wrap Up and Questions                                                          
Day Two - Working with the Visitor                         
8:00AM -   8:15AM                    Check-in                                   
8:15PM -   9:30AM                    Opening Statement - Video Part 1                     
9:30AM - 10:30AM                    Getting the Story - Video Part 2
10:30AM - 10:45AM                  Break                                               
10:45AM - Noon                        Getting the Story    
Noon -  1:00PM                         Lunch
1:00PM -   2:15PM                    Visitor Options and Ombudsman Processes-Video Part 3a-b                             
2:15PM -   2:30PM                    Break                              
2:30PM -   3:15PM                    Visitor Options and Ombudsman Processes                 
3:15PM -   4:30PM                    Activity-Meeting with a Respondent - Video Part 4
4:30PM -   4:45PM                    Debrief
4:45PM -   5:00 PM                   Wrap-up and Questions
Day Three - Working with the Organization           
8:00AM  -   8:15AM                    Check In                                                      
8:15AM - 10:30AM                     Case Practice – Set up
10:30AM - 10:45AM                    Break
10:45AM – 11:30AM                    Establishing an Ombuds Position
11:30AM -    1:00PM                    Lunch – Interest Group Discussion
1:00PM -      2:00PM                   Adding Value and Being Effective
2:15PM –   2:30PM                     Break
2:15PM -    3:30PM                    Adding Value and Being Effective (cont’d.)
3:30PM -    3:40PM                    Set up panel                              
3:40PM -    4:45PM                    Challenges to the Practice (Panel/Parking Lot)                                       
4:45PM -    5:00PM                    Certificates and Adjourn


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