|Consultation and Conciliation staff (from left) Sally Johnson, Claire Tinkerhess and Susan Hartman are available to meet with faculty and staff who wish to air concerns regarding a workplace issue or dispute. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services|
Before personal feelings blur the real issues involved, it often is wise to engage the services of a neutral, third party. The Universitys Consultation and Conciliation Services (C&C) provides just that.
A unit within Human Resources and Affirmative Action (HR/AA), C&C offers mediation and other alternative dispute resolution services. The department recently hired two part-time, professionally trained mediators to fill one full-time position. This two-for-one deal was very appealing in the hiring process, according to C&C Director Sally Johnson, because the department is expanding its programs.
We were thrilled that this level of experience and insight was available, Johnson says. Mediators Claire Tinkerhess and Susan Hartman will handle the bulk of the departments mediating while Johnson focuses on program development. Beginning in winter term, Tinkerhess and Hartman will give brown-bag presentations on conflict resolution to any interested University unit.
C&C has organized an e-mail network of students, faculty and staff who are involved in conflict resolution and prevention. Johnson says she hopes this will lead eventually to close partnerships with such campus units as the University Ombud, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, HR/AA, the faculty ombuds program, and others whose work involves resolving conflicts. The conflict resolution network, collaboration with other dispute resolution programs, such as those at the School of Dentistry and University Hospitals, and informative materials and presentations are part of the departments expanding services. A name change, possibly to Mediation Services, also is on the horizon, according to Johnson.
The addition of Tinkerhess and Hartman to C&Cs staff solidifies its focus on mediation and consultation. Both bring years of experience as professional mediators to their position and work together in private practice when they are not at the University.
Hartman is a lawyer who practiced law for 20 years before focusing on mediation. Her experience as a mediator in southeast Michigan includes work at the Center for Social Gerontology, the Dispute Resolution Center of Washtenaw County and the U.S. Postal Service.
In their private practice, Hartman and Tinkerhess offer conflict resolution training, and victim/offender and family mediation, and work with the Postal Service Redress program.
Tinkerhess, like Hartman, has experience as a mediator at the Dispute Resolution Center of Washtenaw County. Because she enjoyed the mediation work she began there seven years ago, she decided to pursue a masters degree in conflict resolution. Having worked independently in private practice since she completed her degree, Tinkerhess says that the University position suits her interest in workplace mediation.
A phone call to C&C can put an individual in contact with one of the departments mediators. All three are available to meet privately with faculty and staff who wish to air their concerns about a work-related issue or dispute involving a co-worker, supervisor or employee.
People can call for suggestions and an impartial listening ear, or they can begin the mediation process. Several aspects of consultation and conciliation make them appealing alternatives to more formal complaint processes.
The mediation process focuses on creating a better workplaceit is not always necessary to reach a settlement. Sometimes the key, Hartman comments, is to ask questions that make employees and supervisors understand each other better.
To reach Consultation and Conciliation Services, call (734) 936-4214 or visit the Web at www.umich.edu/~mediate. Requests may be made for winter term brown-bag presentations on conflict resolution.
Consultation and Conciliations Sally Johnson, Claire Tinkerhess and Susan Hartman offer the following suggestions for handling workplace conflict.
Campus Web resources