An Outsourced Conflict Manager(OCM) is an individual retained by an organization who serves as the designated neutral for the organization and provides conflict resolution and problem-solving services to members of the organization. The OCM can be used in all sectors (corporate, academic, governmental, non-governmental, and non-profit).
As the Outsourced Conflict Manager, The Bardsley Group provides confidential, informal, independent and impartial assistance to individuals through dispute resolution and problem-solving methods such as conflict coaching, mediation, facilitation, and shuttle diplomacy. We respond to concerns and disputes brought forward by visitors to the office and may report trends, systemic problems, and organizational issues to high-level leaders and executives in a confidential manner. We do not advocate for individuals, groups or entities, but rather for the principles of fairness and equity. We do not play a role in formal processes, investigate problems brought to the our attention, or represent any side in a dispute.
Employee Relations and Human Resource (ER/HR) professionals assist managers and employees of the organization in establishing, following and applying Human Resource-related policies and procedures. They may conduct formal investigations, make or modify policies, and accept formal notice of a claim on behalf of the organization. As a result, the ER/HR professional cannot always extend complete confidentiality to individuals who come forward with issues. The ER/HR professional’s role is not completely neutral because they are part of the management structure and they must directly represent and protect the interests of the organization.
An Outsourced Conflict Manager’s function is to provide informal assistance in surfacing and resolving issues. While we can recommend that an organization consider establishing or revising policy, we play no formal role in enforcing or deciding to implement policy. We do not conduct formal investigations. However, we do assist in identifying or creating options for resolution, including referrals to formal channels with investigatory powers. Because we are not part of the management structure of the organization, we do not accept notice for the organization and can extend near absolute confidentiality (except in the instance of imminent threat of serious harm, as jointly defined by the organization us). We act as a neutral party and do not advocate for the individual, groups or the organization. The only advocacy role is for fairness and equity.
The roles of the OCM and the ER/HR professional are not competing roles, they are complementary. When the two functions work together in an effective partnership, they can yield tremendous benefit to an organization by maintaining an environment that encourages the use of multiple options to surface and resolve issues and to improve systemic policies and procedures.
The Outsourced Conflict Manager role is quite different from that of a lawyer, who is associated with more formal processes and the legal system. An OCM maintains neutrality and impartiality when working with visitors, while a lawyer must advocate for his or her client and may use adversarial approaches to resolve issues. Though we at The Bardsley Group have legal training and experience with issues of the law, we do not provide legal advice.
No. An OCM works to manage conflict within an organization, whereas Mediation is a specific process used for conflict resolution. At The Bardsley Group, we are trained as mediators and often use mediation skills and techniques as one of many approaches to problem solving and conflict management. Sometimes, we write written agreements after parties have reached an agreement. However, the Outsourced Conflict Manager engages informally with visitors and will not retain written records for confidentiality reasons. If a written agreement is reached, others in the organization, such as the HR department, will retain that document in a file.
An OCM can:An OCM can:
The OCM is interested in being helpful to the leader, in the same way that the OCM is helpful to others within the organization. An OCM’s orientation is toward “fair process” so he or she is likely to be sensitive to the interests and concerns of a wide range of people. We are likely to have a different perspective than most others to whom organizational leaders listen. We are likely to be familiar with multiple points of view regarding any given situation and be able to appropriately articulate the concerns of those whose voices often go unheard. We can also:The OCM is interested in being helpful to the leader, in the same way that the OCM is helpful to others within the organization. An OCM’s orientation is toward “fair process” so he or she is likely to be sensitive to the interests and concerns of a wide range of people. We are likely to have a different perspective than most others to whom organizational leaders listen. We are likely to be familiar with multiple points of view regarding any given situation and be able to appropriately articulate the concerns of those whose voices often go unheard. We can also: