A consultation is an in-person meeting between the faculty, staff member or student worker experiencing a conflict and a member of OCR staff. We will listen and ask questions to learn about and understand the specific situation. We can identify resources available to help the visitor, brainstorm ways in which the situation could be more effectively and comfortably addressed and, when helpful, engage in some skill-building designed to make the individual feel better equipped and prepared to manage the situation personally. When appropriate, the Office will gather information or assist the visitor by interacting with other University units to resolve the problem. In many cases, a single consultation is all that is necessary. In others, a series of consultations may be more beneficial. The visitor to the office remains in complete control of the actions taken during and following consultation.
All consultations are confidential. That means that this Office does not disclose information to others unless the employee agrees, subject to limited exceptions (for example, the information indicates an imminent danger of serious harm or if information is required by a court). Therefore, employees should not consider information provided to this office as notice to the University of wrongful conduct. That notice should be provided to other units within the University. See www.compliance.umn.edu/complianceReport.htm.
A facilitated dialogue is a face-to-face discussion between the parties to a conflict with a neutral facilitator present. OCR may recommend a facilitated dialogue when an employee feels that s/he has not been heard or given an opportunity to address concerns with a co-worker. During a facilitated dialogue, the employee raising the issue will be asked to explain the issue from his/her perspective. The responding party is allowed to ask clarifying questions and then is given an opportunity to share his/her own perspective and add any information necessary to have a full picture of the situation. The parties work together with the assistance of the facilitator to identify commitments each can make going forward to improve the problematic situation or working relationship. The facilitator helps ensure that the conversation remains a dialogue rather than a debate.
Mediation is a structured process of intervention between parties in conflict to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise. A third party - the mediator - helps the parties to identify interests, goals and opportunities for agreement to improve or end the conflict. Mediation may involve one or more sessions in which some time is spent together in discussion and some is spent in individual caucus with the mediator. Mediation is more structured than facilitated dialogue and often appropriate for more complex or systemic disputes.