ATLANTA – In May 2010, the World Health Organization’s Office of the Ombudsman and Human Resources Management organized a workshop for key staff across WHO (headquarters and regions) in mediation and facilitation skills. Teaching these skills was seen as a necessary first step in addressing some of the conflict occurring at WHO.
Aba Ankrah-Ntambwe, HQ’s Coordinator of Policy and Administration of Justice, explained than many problems arise through Performance Management Development assessments with staff disputing ratings and comments provided by their supervisors. Other issues arise through uncertainty about contractual situations, entitlements, non-selections and retirement. (UN Special, October 2010)
Donna Douglas Williams, formerly Georgia State University’s Ombuds and now WHO-HQ Ombuds, advocated for the CNCR training based on the trend of increasing conflict and the need for professional development for key staff in handling disputes in a more informal way, through discussion-based problem solving, rather than the formal complaint process such as the Regional and HQ Board of Appeals.
According to Williams, “This kind of approach is really suited to an international organization. It gives people an opportunity to discuss their issues and come up with a solution. If you are filing an appeal, you are putting the problem and solution in the hands of someone else. This model (mediation) allows for more rich discussion, to better understand how the parties view the problem and give them ownership of the solution.” (http://intranet.who.int/homes/omb/ )
CNCR’s Director of Education and Mediation Lin Inlow and CNCR consultant Marilyn Hazzard Lineberger, designed and facilitated this four-day workshop. CNCR’s 5 stage model of mediation was adapted to accommodate both the multi-cultural staff and the organizational complexity of WHO. Mediation simulations were specific to WHO and were co-developed with Donna Douglas Williams.
In all, twenty seven participants completed the course, with staff representing all WHO regions, in addition to several Headquarters’ staff members.