Who You Gonna Call?

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By Frank Fowlie

It never seems as easy as it should be for people to complain and get mistakes sorted out quickly in their workplace. Sometimes simple mistakes can take weeks, if not years to be resolved, with frustration building up on all sides as time passes.

Here’s the thing: In an international organization such as IOM the whole point of an Ombudsman is to help staff (including those dealing with front-line activities) to successfully navigate such workplace difficulties. The role acts as an informal resource to staff. Issues being dealt with could include creating a respectful workplace environment, gender matters, contractual or employment arrangements, or inter-personal conflicts.

The Ombudsman is essentially a flexible, independent and confidential resource for staff, wherever they are in the world. This role is quite different from a formal complaint to the Joint Administrative Review Board (JARB) or other grievance procedure. Instead, the Ombudsman has at his or her disposal a wide range of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques to help resolve problems. They may include: Negotiation, Mediation, Shuttle diplomacy. Good Offices, Fact finding, Informal investigation, Active listening. Coaching, Issue evaluation and feedback, Role playing, Creating referrals, Making recommendations, Advocating for due process and procedural fairness.

Over the coming year, your Ombudsman will be working with the Chief of Staff and Human Resources to develop and implement a peer mediator program. The goal of this program will be to train peer mediators in IOM locations around the globe to be able to provide mediation and problem solving resources in field locations.

You can find out more about the IOM Ombudsman Framework on the intranet’s Office of the Ombudsman section.

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Frank Fowlie is IOM's Ombudsman