The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 27 The Department of State’s mission at home and abroad is complex and challenging, involving stressors that can lead to workplace con icts and issues that necessitate a robust internal con ict resolution resource. e O ce of the Ombuds (S/O) handles workplace con icts that are not currently in a formal process and provides an array of services to bene t all department personnel, including direct hires, locally employed sta , employed family members, and contractors. e purpose of an ombuds is to provide opportunities for individuals and organizations to harness problem- and con ict-solving skills to unlock their collective potential. e position of Ombudsman for Civil Service employees was established at State in 1995 to ensure the ability of Civil Service employees to contribute to the achievement of the department’s foreign a airs responsibilities and to represent the career interests of Civil Service employees. Over time, the goals and responsibilities of that position evolved and expanded. In 2014 the O ce of the Ombudsman was established and was intended to include a Workplace Con ict Prevention and Resolution Center (wCPRc). Until now, there were no resources dedicated to stand up the wCPRc. is year will see a consequential new change: S/O has been provided the resources necessary to sta the wCPRc to address bullying and incivility in the workplace. (In 2023 the title of “Ombudsman” was o - cially changed to “Ombuds.”) Addressing Workplace Conflict Workplace con ict is broadly de ned as any disagreement that disrupts the ow of work. All o ces may—at any moment— experience workplace con ict; professional con ict in the Foreign Service can be especially poignant and, when left unresolved, equally destructive. e prevalence of multiple agencies with related (albeit varied) core mission statements coexisting in a U.S. embassy or consulate—sometimes a building with antiquated technology and/or unreliable HVAC and/or lacking ample o ce space for a growing workforce—in a foreign country can exacerbate challenges that may lead to con ict both inside and out of the o ce. S/O o ers support and resources to informally address such con ict at the interpersonal, organizational, and systemic levels. S/O has four guiding principles—that its work is con dential, informal, impartial, and independent. Its mission is to promote con ict prevention and resolution in the workplace. It is an independent and impartial resource for department personnel seeking early reconciliation and assists personnel to work toward mutually agreeable solutions. How does S/O work? On the interpersonal front, S/O sta and the ombuds herself engage in con ict education, mitigation, and Workplace conflict is broadly defined as any disagreement that disrupts the flow of work. ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/JACOB WACKERHAUSEN Straight from the Source is the FSJ space for the foreign aairs agencies to inform the FS community about new policies or innovations in operations. What are your thoughts about the O„ce of the Ombuds’ new Workplace Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center (wCPRc)? Please send your feedback as letters to or comment on FSJ LinkedIn.