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An Ombuds Journey: Growth within

By Janie Tanner,

Greetings from Texas! I am Janie Tanner and currently work as a part-time contractor supporting the Chevron Ombuds organization.  Prior to retiring from Chevron in 2016, I was a fulltime Ombudsman for 3 years.  Chevron kept me around for a total of 39 years and even now years later, I have this great part-time opportunity.  I know that I am blessed.

Most of my Chevron work background was in the Human Resources function as a HR Generalist role (15 years) to provide day to day HR support to a client group or as the HR Manager (10 years) to supervise and mentor other HR professionals.  The HR Generalist role sometimes meant managing employee issues and finding workable solutions between parties.  Mid-career, I transferred into Chevron’s Employee Relations department (8 years) and my responsibilities included conducting interviews, investigations, mediation, and leading facilitated discussions to find agreeable and workable solutions.  In each of these roles, I was able to help employees and found great satisfaction in providing that service and support.  In some of the employee issues, I was contacted by a Chevron Ombudsman as a resource or for counsel and the position always intrigued me.   

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JIOA Call for Guest Editors

By Shannon Burton, PhD

Editor of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA)
University Ombudsperson - Michigan State University

With the publication of Part I of the Journal for the International Ombudsman Association’s (JIOA) Special Issue on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, the JIOA is looking at the potential for future special issues.  As part of this initiative, we are placing a call for guest editors.

Themes for which the JIOA is searching for guest editors:

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ABA’s Just Resolutions e-newsletter is Looking for Articles on the Work of Ombuds

By Shannon Burton, PhD. 

University Ombudsperson | Michigan State University
Editor | ABA Just Resolutions September 2021

Dear Ombuds Colleagues,

I am writing to solicit articles for the September 2021 Just Resolutions e-newsletter.  This edition centers on the work of ombuds and it would be wonderful if we had a number of individuals interested in writing!


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The JIOA Special Issue on Sexual Harassment & Discrimination (Part 1) Has Been Published!

By Shereen Bingham
Professor Emeritus and former Ombuds, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Have you ever observed an individual enter an Ombuds office–perhaps your own–exuding feelings such as uncertainty, anxiety, fear, or despair? And then watched them take leave of that office some 90 minutes later radiating a degree of comfort, hope, or resolve? I have. Countless Ombuds colleagues have described similar experiences with visitors. But how does it happen? What exactly does Ombuds work entail?

Contrary to what our T-shirts may claim, we all know Ombuds are not really superheroes with supernatural powers. But Ombuds do have an air of mystery about them. How could it be otherwise?  The IOA Standards of Practice guide Ombuds to operate confidentially, independently, and off-the-record. Details of Ombuds’ methods and interactions are inherently private and hidden from view. 

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A Message from the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force

By Heidi Stensby & Melissa Watson
DEIB Task Force Communications Liaisons

In July of 2020, the IOA Board unanimously approved the establishment of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force. The group was tasked with helping IOA internally evaluate itself on anti-racism practices and racial justice—and with defining parameters for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that supports membership belonging and connection within the organization. 

Under the leadership of co-chairs Brett Harris and Jai Calloway—selected by task force members – the DEIB group dedicated early discussion to the meanings of the words “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “belonging”—recognizing that individual perspectives and experiences inform each person’s understanding and practice. To ensure fidelity to the project and IOA’s broad purpose, the task force drafted the following mission and values statements:

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Update and Request for the Ombuds Effectiveness Project

By Jennifer Mahony
Associate Ombudsman, NIH

Jen MahonyWhat are the mechanisms you use to create meaningful insight for your organizations?  How do you show that your ombuds office is valuable and effective? What frameworks are you using with your organization to define effectiveness?

In a recent blog post, Hector Escalante discussed The Ombuds Effectiveness Project as well as the work of Goal #1. Chuck Howard, IOA’s Executive Director, formed a project team led by Randy Williams and Ronnie Thomson to address these key questions. The Ombuds Effectiveness Project’s mission is “to equip ombuds offices with guidance, research tools, and training to measure and present effectiveness of their programs relevant to the stakeholder’s goals, in alignment with their organization's mission and values”.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Heck – Volunteer Coordination Committee

By Tiffany Chen, Eastern Michigan University 
IOA Volunteer Coordination Committee

The IOA has always been an organization driven by passionate volunteers. We as part of the Volunteer Coordination Committee, but also IOA, would like to recognize the efforts of our volunteers that keep everything running. It is through our collective efforts that our organization has been able to develop and grow to what it is right now and more importantly what it will become in the future.

This Spotlight Post is to not only recognize some of our fellow IOA members, but also to make a shout-out to their amazing team that helps consistently push research for our work as ombudsmen on edge and in the forefront.

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What to do When Abrasive Behavior Enters your Organization

by Mark Batson Baril, Resologics

In my work as an Ombudsman and conflict resolver I have encountered thirteen situations to date that have involved a leader with an abrasive leadership style. It’s been hard for me to admit, but it took eight of those cases over several years before I really understood what was going on — and what to do about it. In most of those eight cases the teams and organizations worked toward agreements that more or less stuck and the team’s performance improved. Yet, remaining underneath those changes was the abrasive behavior of the leader/individual that had not been addressed in a substantial way.

If this type of behavior exists in the organization we are working with and we have not been able to support the organization in working through it, we are merely enabling a patch to the problem and are not dealing with the underlying system at play. Eventually the negative outcomes from the abrasive behavior will negate any team improvements and come back to damage the workplace and, importantly, the people involved.

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On Behalf of Membership, Thank You IOA

By the IOA Membership Committee

As 2020 comes to an end, and for many, the IOA membership renewal period begins, we reflect on the ways our association has strengthened its commitment to support its members in the work we do as ombuds. When presented with uncertainties and roadblocks due to the global pandemic, IOA stepped up to the task by offering opportunities for support, skill-building, and connection. When IOA faced the difficult and unavoidable decision to cancel the annual conference, our leaders rose to the challenge by providing innovative options and opportunities to share our knowledge, skills, and emotions through town halls, comforting videos, timely communications, improved virtual platforms, relevant webinars (free to members), and a myriad of new networks for caring and sharing. 

The IOA Membership Committee would like to express our gratitude for the tireless efforts of our leaders, Chuck Howard (Executive Director), Melanie Jagneaux (IOA President), and Lindsay Jennings (Managing Director), as well as the hard work of all IOA staff and volunteers. Thanks to them, our association and the global ombuds community have continued to grow and evolve amidst current challenges. Now is also the time for all of us, as IOA members, to rekindle our commitment to the work we do and use our talents to advance IOA’s mission. As we reflect on the change and opportunities still to come in the year ahead, the Membership Committee encourages you to renew your membership now to avoid a lapse upon your membership expiration, whether in January or later in 2021. Together we can continue to strengthen international ombuds practices by supporting wellbeing and communication around the globe for many years to come.

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Demonstrating Value to Key Stakeholders During Times of Transition and Virtual Ombuds Offices

Image of Sana ManjeshwarImage of Elizabeth Hill

By Elizabeth Hill, Associate Director, University of Colorado Boulder Ombuds Office & Sana Manjeshwar, Global Ombuds Manager, Chevron

We hope you are all staying well and resilient during these uncertain times. Since March 2020, our ombuds community has faced unprecedented challenges and recognized a heightened need to demonstrate value to our stakeholders. This article aims to illuminate how two organizational ombuds programs, Chevron’s Global Office of Ombuds (CGOO) and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Ombuds Office (UCBOO), continue to show their value to visitors, key stakeholders, and other internal and external audiences during these transient times. While our industries may differ, we have identified three effective steps to remain visible and impactful.

 

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Surfacing Gems from the Archives of the Independent Voice

By the Editor of the Independent Voice

The Independent Voice provides a channel to communicate happenings within the IOA, as well as insights on timely topics and practice reflections from members. This year, the Independent Voice expanded access to the blog so the public can benefit from this channel as well. As the current editor of this blog, I’ve gone through the archived posts to make sure links are still live and to assess the various topics discussed throughout the years. A result of this effort allowed me to experience the great wisdom shared throughout the years related to topics of discussion in our field, pathways for professional development, and practical skills shared to build our capacity for success in our role. This post is meant to highlight some of the archived posts as a means to share the wisdom conveyed with those that may be newly accessing this blog.

A Meatball by Any Other Name (originally posted 12-14-2018)

This post touches on an issue that I’ve seen surface as of late in social media chatter. It is an introduction to a greater JIOA article on the need for reflection on the title we assign for our work in this profession. After you read through this short article, I invite you to share your thoughts and reflections on where we can bring this conversation. [READ MORE]

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Ombuds Practices: The Reach Out Initiatives

By Eliane Markoff
Ombuds - Bentley University

This reflection describes initiatives launched by my Ombuds Office to create a platform for faculty and staff to be empowered to address challenging situations in a timely and constructive manner. In addition, these initiatives create an infrastructure to proactively ensure practicing core values of collaboration and caring. The initiatives are referred to as Reach Out initiatives. The first initiative launched, Reach Out to Resolve a Conflict, outlined steps and best practices in addressing and resolving a conflict. 

The idea and inspiration came to me as I spoke with members of our community who wanted to resolve an issue or a conflict but were hesitant when too much time has passed or were a bit uncertain on the best way to proceed. During a dedicated week, members of our community were encouraged to reach out to those they have or had a conflict with.  Other initiatives focused on expressing appreciation, on apologizing and on requesting and providing constructive feedback.

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Covid Strategies: Mobilizing peers, and bystanders, and bystanders of bystanders

By Mary Rowe

Hello IOA,

I have been studying how peers and bystanders are being encouraged to support community values with respect to COVID. I continue to study peers and bystanders because I have come to believe that peers and bystanders are the principal constraints on unacceptable behavior in our society. (And I believe that this is especially true in constraining the unacceptable behavior of people who have a lot of power in any context.) 

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IOA Ombuds Office Effectiveness Project

By Hector Escalante, Ed.D, MFA
Ombudsperson - Pacific University

What are the top suggestions ombuds can use to show value to leadership? What tools can they use to make a case that their office deserves to exist? Recently, Chuck Howard, IOA’s Executive Director formed a team led by Randy Williams and Ronnie Thompson to address these key questions. The Ombuds Effectiveness Project’s mission is “to equip ombuds offices with guidance, research tools, and training to measure and present effectiveness of their programs relevant to the stakeholder’s goals, in alignment with their organization's mission and values”.

In today’s uncertain and unstable environment, this mission is critically important for ombuds offices. Many ombuds offices may be at risk for closure. I recently experienced the possibility of my office being closed because of new leadership and extreme budget cuts. Fortunately, with the help of IOA, close ombuds colleagues and my university stakeholders, I was strategically able to convince our new leader that the ombuds role brings tremendous value to him as a leader and to the greater university community.

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Updates from the 2020 Practice and Compensation Survey

By Mary Rowe,

The survey team has been preparing many reports from the 2020 Practice and Compensation survey report. Here are the first two reports. Information is coming next about compensation. And more is coming about OO Practice in addition to the attached articles. Hi Colleagues, we enormously appreciate all who participated in the IOA survey by sharing your insights and information. Through your contributions, the world - and we - are able to understand the functions, boundaries, and impact of organizational ombuds (OO) with greater clarity. Thank you, thank you!

The first report helps provide information to a confused world about what OOs actually do and do not do - and how we fit into the whole world of all ombudspeople.

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Updates from the JIOA

By Shannon Burton
JIOA Editor

Dear IOA Colleagues,

The Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) has been busy these past few months!  Please visit our website if you have not done so recently.  There are new articles and book reviews posted.  These include:

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My #OmbudsDay2020 Playlist

By Michael Green

With #OmbudsDay 2020 around the corner, I received a ‘challenge’ from a few colleagues and members of IOA. They, knowing of my passion for creating meaningful playlists, suggested I curate a list of songs for this event taking place on October 8th, 2020. I took this informal invitation as an opportunity to craft some songs for personal reflection and professional development. Using the lens of an ombuds, with an eagerness to serve communities and listen to the issues facing organizations, institutions, and everyday people, I developed the playlist that follows.

It was my intention to utilize art, in this case music, as a mechanism for awareness into the lives of the people who walk through the doors of ombuds offices. I attempted to absorb the complexities and dynamics that various populations are being forced to face during this turbulent year and mold that into a list of songs that could provide insight for those of us working with those populations. I believe that being intune with the culture of our constituents is vital to our impact. It is my hope that my fellow ombuds (former, current, and aspiring) can use this playlist to reflect on the past year, enhance their current practice amidst major societal shifts, and as a means to inspire transformation as we move forward. There is much work to be done, but I think if we listen intently to those we serve we will be better ombuds, better global citizens, and better human beings.

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One Conversation at a Time

By James Laflin and Robert Werth

This article was originally published in the 2020 XVIII edition of the Journal of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, (CCCUO). The article is shared in its entirety here with permission of the Journal of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, (CCCUO). Please check the link above to access the full archive of this beneficial journal.

The Premise

Given the times we're living through and all the voices that need to be heard, the premise of this essay is that we need to get much better at listening to those voices; everyone's.  And we need to do it now; one conversation at a time.  So, what would that look like?  Here are a few small but challenging suggestions.

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JIOA Seeks New Peer Reviewers

By Shannon Burton
University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University
JIOA Editor

Do you have broad interest in ombuds work?

Do you want to help the profession advance intellectually and pragmatically?

If so, then please consider applying to serve as a Peer Reviewer for the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA). The Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) is a peer-reviewed online journal for scholarly articles and information relevant to the ombuds profession. As members of a relatively new profession, we continually strive to understand, define, and clarify the role and function of the professional organizational ombuds. Serving as a Peer Reviewer for the JIOA is a great way to learn more about academic writing and research and gain new insights into the field as well.

Position Description: 

The journal’s reviewers use their expertise to comment and provide feedback on manuscripts submitted to the JIOA. Reviewers conduct blind reviews and are expected to complete them within eight weeks. As part of the review process, reviewers will recommend the manuscripts are accepted with no revisions, accepted with revisions (minor or major), or rejected.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Shannon Lynn Burton – Research and Assessment Committee

By Tiffany Chen, Eastern Michigan University 
IOA Volunteer Coordination Committee

The IOA has always been both a passion and volunteer driven organization. We as part of the Volunteer Coordination Committee, but also IOA, would like to recognize the efforts of our volunteers that keep everything running. It is through our collective efforts that our organization has been able to develop and grow to what it is right now and more importantly what it will become in the future.

This Spotlight Post is to not only recognize some of our fellow IOA members, but also to make a shout-out to their amazing team that helps consistently push research for our work as ombuds on the edge and in the forefront.

Read More