Just the word “telecommuter” is enough to make many managers start to sweat. When faced with the prospect of managing an employee they cannot even see, basic managerial knowledge often becomes hazy, resulting in a confusing arrangement for both manager and employee. As more and more of our world revolves around technology and an increasing number of jobs can be executed from an office at home, managers must learn how to adapt their leadership style to cater to both remote employees, and those working in the office.(1)
Mediation is a structured process in which an external party, called a mediator, helps participants generate and evaluate options that would allow them to reach a mutual agreement. It is an informal and confidential process.
“I hope that the Code of Conduct will be a valuable tool in the maintenance and development of a workplace marked by mutual respect and understanding. We should familiarize ourselves with it, and incorporate it into our daily life at CERN.”*
“The Organization does not tolerate harassment, which can result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.”**
In any institution, conflicts are inevitable. They can, however, offer an opportunity for a positive resolution. Relationships in a workplace are generally better and stronger between people who have been able to reach a positive resolution of their disagreement, than they are between people who get along moderately well. However, in disputes involving two antagonistic parties, people often forget that there is actually a third party behind the scenes: the institution.
“True leadership, not to be confused with dictatorship, does not take away an individual's freedom, choice, accountability, or responsibility. Just as the leader is to be serving and taking into account the ideas and needs of those they lead, those following that lead are to be doing the same thing. In doing so, they, along with the leader, practice self-restraint, develop character, integrate discipline, and practice love and respect for other people. This creates a kind of self-leadership at all levels of the group.
“First, leadership is a process that is not specifically a function of the person in charge. Leadership is a function of individual wills and individual needs, and the result of the dynamics of collective will organized to meet those various needs. Second, leadership is a process of adaptation and of evolution; it is a process of dynamic exchange and the interchanges of value. Leadership is deviation from convention. Third, leadership is a process of energy, not structure.
In accordance with the Code of Ethics of the International Ombudsman Association, one of the main values of the Ombuds is his impartiality. In interceding in a misunderstanding or a conflict the Ombuds keeps in mind the interests of both parties as well as the interests of the organization. The Ombuds does not take sides and does not favour one person over another. In resolving a conflict, he is required to contact all parties involved and to treat them equally.
Most of the people coming to the Ombuds sincerely believe that the conflict they are in is due to the other party. They do not see that they play a key role in creating the external circumstances which lead to such a conflict. Thus, paying attention early on to your emotions and your body language, as well as recording your thoughts (positive and negative), can be very interesting. In other words, observe yourself. A close, intuitive and clear understanding of who we are will help us to avoid projecting our own feelings onto others or feeling too soon as though we may be under attack.
Among the cases brought to the Ombuds, many of them have to do with difficulties between supervisees and supervisors. In fact, they form the majority of the cases. For both parties, the source of the conflict boils down to the relationship that people entertain with what can be called "the authority". The relationship with the authority is somewhat different within the various sectors of CERN, as are the relationships between personnel and supervisors.
Everyone can certainly agree that good communication is very important. Leaders should try to give feedback to their supervisees on their work and career so they can benefit from this information. Giving feedback provides personnel with an opportunity to understand what can they can improve or correct should there be some weaknesses in their technical or behavioural skills. It is also a chance to be congratulated for their efforts and dedication. Feedback should be given in a sincere and honest way, so that the person can accept the comments. The keys to giving feedback are: