Ombuds and “Informality”

by Mary Sue Love, AOM Ombuds

juggling tasksI’ve been struggling with a work decision recently. It may come as no surprise to many mid-career academics, but I was feeling over committed and I needed to let at least one service role go.  I’ve attended meetings and listened to about seven different perspectives on whether to let go of this particular officer role.  I’d have loved to talk in detail with any of these seven people, but I knew their perspectives and I didn’t want to be convinced to stay; I just wanted to sort through all of their points and see how they could help inform my choice.  The problem: I was torn and didn’t really know exactly what I wanted, what my motives were, and what was best for me and the organization I was poorly serving.  I needed someone who would listen and help me clarify my own perspective, not share one more!

Turns out, this is exactly when an Ombuds can be helpful.  Not only must they remain neutral, but being informal is much more than just not taking notes or putting anyone on record. Last year, the AoM Ombuds committee started a series of posts on the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice . AOM Ombuds Greg Stephens started the series with general information on the role of an ombuds; then I wrote about neutrality and impartiality. Nancy Day wrote about confidentiality, then Greg wrote on independence.

I’m finishing our series with a discussion on informality, something I recently turned to an Ombuds for myself.  Last spring, Nancy posted on the topic for her university. She does a great job of defining informality, saying, “being an informal resource means I can help you think about your problem in different ways that may help address it without going through the complications of a formal process such as a grievance. Working with me is off-the-record, and no one will know you’ve been to see me unless you tell them.”  She’s right, according to the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice, informality means we are ‘off the record,’ we don’t make binding decisions, and we do not participate in any formal procedures.

You might ask, then, what can an Ombuds do, and how can one help me decide whether to drop this committee obligation?  Ombuds can listen, help you identify issues, discuss a range of options, reframe things, just like Nancy said in her post. But why is this so powerful?

Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers spoke to this in his 1958 address to the American Personnel and Guidance Association.  Titled “The Characteristics of a Helping Relationship,” and reprinted in his book “On Becoming a Person,” many other places, and here , Rogers describes the undeniable magic that can happen when a person is listened to by another who is genuine, empathetic, and non-judgmental.  In this safe space, the individual is able to speak freely and have her ideas and feelings clarified.  In so doing, Rogers found that patients often were able to develop workable solutions to their own problems.  This was quite a departure from the more prescriptive psychological theories of Rogers’ day.

Today I want to share just how magical it is when someone helps you sort through your own mess of thoughts and feelings to find your own workable solution.  I started my conversation with the Ombuds by sharing the nuts and bolts of my obligations, my thoughts as to why this was the one commitment to let go, and the reasons others thought this was a bad idea on my part.  For the first time in weeks, I was able to talk about the issues without fear of judgment and without being pressured by others. Part of my confusion was in the thought of letting down so many other committed individuals. Yet part of what they weren’t hearing from me was how I felt I was already letting them down by not being able to give the role all the time and dedication it required. About halfway through my second round of being listened to without judgment, I started to hear myself say “I can’t fulfill the obligations of this role and…” The last three times I’d started that sentence, I’d been cut off by one of those seven other perspectives.  However, my informal Ombuds didn’t cut me off, she let me talk through all my mixed motives. So as I listened to the last half of that sentence for the first time, my decision gelled and the force of it resonated within me.

The tone of the conversation changed as I gained enthusiasm and momentum for my decision.  We quickly moved from my fears to real solutions.  By the time we finished the conversation, I had a plan for next steps.  Because I was clear with myself, I was able to articulate my decision to others in a way that helped strengthen the leadership team instead of leaving them in the lurch.  It’s been about six weeks since I made the decision to step down from leadership and focus on the sub-committee work for this fledgling organization. I feel better, obviously, but because I took the time to sort my thoughts and feelings with an Ombuds, I was able to find a resolution that benefitted not just me but the organization too.

Yes, we were hacked!

If you received an odd message from The Ethicist this weekend, please know that we are aware that someone hacked the blog and are dealing with it.

Leading Ethically Through Diversity and Inclusion Policies

Guest Post from Kristine D. Jones-Pasley, Ph.D.

From the AOM Code of Ethics: AOM members are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role
differences, including those based on age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual
orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and they consider these factors when working with all
people. AOM members try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on these factors, and they do not
knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.

We know that a hot topic for many organizations is the creation of a diverse and inclusive work endiversity at workvironment. Organizations tend to focus on gender and race when it comes to the topic of diversity; however, diversity is much more. Let’s focus on diversity as it relates to people with disabilities (PWD).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2017), the unemployment rate in 2016 for PWD was 10.5% vs 4.6% for people without disabilities (para. 1). BLS (2017) stated that the unemployment rate for PWD “was little changed from the previous year” (para. 1).

We need to look at these numbers in context, the BLS report information comes from the Current Population Survey, which surveys 60,000 households on employment statuses in the United States. The information is voluntary and from their data BLS determined that the majority of those surveyed with a disability were over the age of 65. This information leads to several questions:

  • Are those younger than 65 hesitant to acknowledge their disability?
  • If they are hesitant, why?
  • How many in the workforce are hiding their disability?

I want to touch on the last question. How many in the workforce are hiding their disability? This one question leads to a host of several questions regarding leadership and organizational culture. When we think of disability we tend to think of visible disabilities; however, there are a number of individuals who have non-visible disabilities.

Think about your team, how many do you know suffer from chronic depression? Diabetes? Heart disease? Migraine headaches? These are just some of the impairments that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Can you also see why some individuals do not self-identify as having a disability?

Continue to think about your team. Do you have someone on your team that has used a lot of leave in large blocks due to a mysterious illness. Do you have someone on your team that takes several breaks throughout the day to walk around, in the restroom, in their car, etc.?

Have you as a leader and your organization in general, created an environment where team members feel comfortable reporting that they are facing challenges? Are you currently “watching” a member of your team for one more strike so that you can release them from the company? If you knew that they had a disability would you change your mind about releasing them from the company? If you knew that your top employee had two heart attacks, would this change your opinion of the person and their value to the organization?

Legally, you could release the person from the organization if they are missing large amounts of time or taking a lot of breaks. Ethically, should you do it if mitigating circumstances are presented?

Conduct an audit on your organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives. What is in place regarding reasonable accommodations for PWD? How many leaders/managers/supervisors/team leads have self-identified as having a disability? Although organizations state that they are open to diversity and inclusion, many do not have the initiatives in place to support these statements.

If you are unsure of how to start a diversity and inclusion initiative, join me for the webinar: Defining Diversity and Inclusion for Your Organization.

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LIVE!! Diversity and Inclusion Webinar

Title: Defining Diversity and Inclusion for Your Organization

This webinar provides actionable first steps in creating a diversity and inclusion initiative for your organization.

Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Time: 2 PM ET/1 PM CT/12 PM MT/11 AM PT

Audience: Leaders, managers, supervisors, change makers, and human resources professionals.

Register at: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/definingdi

This webinar is limited to 50 people, register now and save your seat. Those who attend will have access to the recording for two weeks.

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References:

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017, June 21). Economic news release: Persons with a disability: Labor force characteristics summary. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm

Ethical Leadership through Giving Voice To Values: Free Online Course

Beginning next Monday, September 25, 2017, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, in partnership with Coursera, will offer a 4-week online course, Ethical Leadership through Giving Voice To Values.
This course offers an action-oriented introduction to Giving Voice to Values (or GVV), an exciting new approach to values-driven leadership development in the workplace, in business education and in life.
GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical, but instead it starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully.
Through positive, real-life examples, pre-scripting, rehearsal and peer coaching, GVV builds the skill, the confidence and the likelihood that we will act on our values more often and more successfully. Based on research and practice and with more than 1,000 pilots in companies and educational settings on all seven continents, GVV helps us to answer the questions: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?”
Audiences for this course include business practitioners, corporate trainers and leadership/ethics professionals who wish to use the GVV approach in their organizational training and management practices; faculty who wish to find ways to integrate values-related topics into their core curriculum; as well as students and individual learners. Faculty may wish to assign the entire course and/or selected videos and assignments to students in their own classes, as a way to introduce them to the GVV approach before asking them to apply the methodology to cases and topics in their existing syllabi.
The course includes short videos introducing the key GVV topics and approaches, as well as video presentations by GVV users from business, the military and academia; readings; exercises; and peer coaching opportunities.
Learners can earn a course certificate from Coursera for $79. Auditors can access the course materials for free.
Registration
Registration is available now at this link through Coursera. The first cohort for the course begins on September 25, 2017 and runs for 4 weeks. For the remainder of 2017, subsequent cohorts launch on October 23November 20December 18, and every fourth Monday after that.
For more information, please feel free to contact AOM Ethics Education Committee member GentileM@darden.virginia.edu and visit www.GivingVoiceToValues.org and www.MaryGentile.com.

Ethics at the Interface…to be continued!

Thanks to everyone who participated in Ethics Education Committee PDWs, Caucus, Consortia, and meetings in Atlanta! We’re in the process of assembling notes, slides, and resources to share. We are already thinking ahead to Chicago, so feel free to share your ideas!

Ethics at the Interface

 


When we interface as individuals, as citizens, or as representatives of institutions or organizations, we often encounter ethical dilemmas. As the description of this year’s conference theme suggests, we might need to navigate uncertain boundaries between insider and outsider status, and determine whose power is legitimate, whose voices are heard. We confront these questions whether we are teaching a class of culturally, racially (and politically!) diverse students, collaborating on research projects or articles, consulting with clients, or making decisions about an AOM activity. What is the right way, the ethical way, to handle our differences, so we can learn, study, or work together?

When we join AOM we commit to uphold the Code of Ethics, which offers some guidance about the necessity of standing for fair, respectful, inclusive practices when we find ourselves at the interface:

AOM members respect the dignity and worth of all people and the rights of individuals…AOM members are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and they consider these factors when working with all people. AOM members try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on these factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.

This year the Ethics Education Committee invites you to discuss common dilemmas and to consider ways to address them. Please join us, all are welcome! After the conference in Atlanta we plan to share what we learn in a series of posts on The Ethicist Blog.

Building a Culture Of Respect: Teaching and Conducting Research in a Complex World
Session Type: PDW Workshop
Program Session: 70 | Submission: 15995 | Sponsor(s): (D&ITC, GDO)
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 4 2017 10:00AM – 12:00PM at Hilton Atlanta in Galleria 1
Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Walden U.
Organizer: David B. Zoogah, Xavier U.
Organizer: Louise Kelly, U. of La Verne
Organizer: Deborah Michelle Mullen, HealthPartners Inst./ U. of St. Francis

Teaching Ethics & Social Responsibility in a Conflicted World
Program Session: 178 | Submission: 16055 | Sponsor(s): (SIM)
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 4 2017 5:00PM – 6:30PM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Marquis M304
Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Walden U. and Vision2Lead
Organizer: Lynn Wilson, Walden U. and SeaTrust Institute

Ethics Education Committee Open Forum on Ethical Scholarship
Session Type: Meeting
Program Session: 433 | Submission: 18158 | Sponsor(s): (AAA)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 5 2017 4:00PM – 5:30PM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Lobby L404

Ethics Education Committee Open Forum on Global Ethics for Business
& Academia

Session Type: Meeting
Program Session: 469 | Submission: 18159 | Sponsor(s): (AAA)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 5 2017 5:45PM – 7:15PM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Lobby L404

UN Sustainable Development Goals: What Can We Do?
Session Type: Caucus
Program Session: 1823 | Submission: 15758 | Sponsor(s): (CAU)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 8 2017 11:30AM – 1:00PM at Hilton Atlanta in Room 203
Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Walden U.
Organizer: Mark Edward Meaney, U. of Colorado, Boulder
Presenter: Lynn Wilson, Walden U.

Growing Pains: Globalization and the Threats to Research Integrity
Threats to Research Integrity
Session Type: Caucus
Program Session: 2059 | Submission: 16581 | Sponsor(s): (CAU)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 8 2017 3:00PM – 4:30PM at Hilton Atlanta in Room 203
Organizer: Joseph Lampel, The U. of Manchester
Organizer: Benson Honig, McMaster U.

Join the Ethics Ed Committee in Atlanta!

Yes, we were hacked!

Image result for hackersIn case you were wondering… we did not write that post about casinos! We were hacked! We are trying to diagnose the problem so hopefully you will not see any more oddball posts.

Confidential

By Nancy Day, AOM Ombuds

Our jobs as faculty can be among the most satisfying – at least in terms of Hackman and Oldham’s (1975) Job Characteristics Model. We use a lot of different skills, often find our work meaningful, and we have a great deal of autonomy. BUT – our jobs can also be among the most stressful: publication pressures, student demands, and difficulties working with colleagues, both other faculty and administrators.

As members of the Academy of Management, you are fortunate to have resources to help you navigate conflicts and related issues. The AOM Ethics Ombuds Committee is composed of three members, all of whom are trained ombudspersons, who will try to understand your story, clarify your goals, help generate options that may resolve the issue, and assist you in planning your next steps.

As member of the International Ombudsman Association, we adhere to four Standards of Practice: Informality, neutrality/impartiality, independence, and confidentiality. In our last contribution to the Ethicist Blog, Ombuds Committee member Mary Sue Love covered neutrality and impartiality. Today, I’d like to describe confidentiality.

Confidentiality means we won’t divulge what you tell us to anyone, unless you give us permission to do so. Confidentiality is critical so that our “visitors” (the folks we’re trying to help) feel they can be candid and complete in telling their stories. Like all organizational Ombuds, we keep no records, so there’s nothing that will come up in any legal discovery process, should that occur. The only people who will know about your consultation with AOM Ombuds are you and us, unless you choose to tell someone else. Our confidentiality standard requires we neither confirm nor deny who’s consulted with us.

Confidentiality is critical so we can effectively help Ombuds visitors. Exceptions to it are very limited: If we believe there is “imminent risk of serious harm” to an individual or the Academy, we are obligated to report that to the appropriate person.

As Ombuds, our goal is that by telling us your story, you’ll have both a clearer understanding of the situation and some ideas about how to move forward in a positive direction. In our next few blog posts, we’ll explain the other Standards of Practice, independence and informality.

So if you want an avenue to confidentially try to resolve Academy-related issues, please contact us at ombuds@aom.org. You can find more information on the Academy’s Ethics webpage: www.AOM.org/ethics.

Giving Voice to Values in the Classroom

The news of the day filters into our classrooms. Students think about how they can reconcile the desire to address social ills and injustices with success in the business world. Those of us who teach are challenged to find productive ways to bring ethics into the conversation. Giving Voice to Values (GVV) offers a timely set of FREE resources for doing so and they are available online. Also see a recent Harvard Business Review article: Talking About Ethics Across Cultures by Mary C. Gentile, December 2016.

GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical. Rather GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully. This pedagogy and curriculum are about raising those odds.

Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, the Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum focuses on ethical implementation and asks the question: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?”

Here are some tips for discussing ethics and values in your classroom:

  • Try using some GVV-style, post-decision-making case studies, that end not with a protagonist who has decided what is right and invite students to work together to craft, script and  share effective action plans for getting the right thing done.
  • Be sure to focus on cases that feature protagonists are various levels in the organization, not just the CEO, so the students can begin practicing how to create effective strategies right from the start.
  • Provide opportunities for peer-coaching around the most promising scripts and action plans. See the “Guidelines for Peer Coaching” document in the GVV Case Collection at http://store.darden.virginia.edu/giving-voice-to-values
  • Use the popular GVV exercise, “A Tale of Two Stories” as an introduction the approach, also available at http://store.darden.virginia.edu/giving-voice-to-values

GVV is being used all over the world– in over 970 business schools, businesses and other settings. This approach to leadership development was pioneered by Ethics Education Committee member Dr. Mary C. Gentile. GVV cases and materials draw on business practitioners’ experiences, as well as social science and management research.

For More Information on GVV, Contact: Mary C. Gentile Ph.D., GentileM@darden.virginia.edu, 978-468-2757  and visit:  www.MaryGentile.com and www.GivingVoiceToValues.org