UCI envisions a healthy organizational culture that fosters trust and respect. We want employees to have the confidence to raise any issue, concern, or conflict and know that it will be respectfully received and responsibly dealt with at the lowest level possible through direct communication and collaboration.
Workplace conflict is inevitable and provides an opportunity for cooperative engagement or demoralizing costly disputes. When we engage collaboratively to problem solve, we are successful.
At times, because of our discomfort with conflict, our lack of skills to address conflict productively, our lack of procedures and structures to channel it toward collaboration, conflict is typically experienced as a problem and avoided. When it comes to workplace problems and conflict, UCI supports productive engagement to ensure all voices are actually heard and that conflict is experienced as an opportunity for learning, growth and enhanced creativity.
Participation in this Program is voluntary for employees, although supervisors involved in conflicts with their employees are strongly encouraged to participate if employees request assistance from the Program.
The purpose of this Program is to prevent, manage and resolve any conflict competently and in alignment with the UCI’s vision, mission, and values.
All employees are expected to maintain productive interpersonal relationships and resolve any conflicts or disputes using the resources provided by this Program. UCI Human Resources will manage the Program, recognizing that we have a special responsibility to role model healthy relationship management and to help others maintain productive interpersonal relationships.
The Program will provide a variety of options including conflict coaching, conversation facilitation and mediation. At times, the Program will make referrals to applicable resources including available employee assistance services, or other UCI programs or offices. The intention is to make the Program easy to access. To support this, a variety of ways to raise concerns will be provided.
The Program is not a reporting office for treatment that is the subject of UCI’s SVSH or other harassment and discrimination policies in force. The Program is intended to work in conjunction with collective bargaining agreements and PPSM-70.
To the extent allowed by law, activities performed in pursuit of this Program are private and confidential, with the exception of situations where one of the participants makes a genuine threat of physical or psychological harm or reveals information of criminal activity, child abuse or elder abuse.
The Program envisions three pathways to prevent, manage and resolve any conflict or disputes.
Option 1: Direct Communication and Collaboration
The preferred method for dealing with conflict is direct communication and collaboration.
All employees are expected to maintain productive interpersonal relationships and competently address and resolve any conflicts or disputes through direct communication so they can collaborate productively with one another in pursuit of UCI’s goals and objectives as set by supervisors and managers.
Option Two: Open Door and Facilitated Conversations
Where direct communication is not suitable, whether because the supervisor is not available or not the desired contact, employees may access successively higher levels of the management chain or Human Resources at any time.
When management or Human Resources are contacted about a problem or issue, they shall guard against toxic triangulation and restore direct communication between the employees by offering to facilitate a conversation to support the mutual resolution of their conflict.
When facilitating a conversation as contemplated by this Program, the HR member or manager will focus on improving communication, identifying needs, and building creative solutions that work for everyone.
The facilitator will refrain from solving the problem for the participants or being an advocate for either participant.
When a conversation is facilitated through the exercise of this option, the HR member or manager will complete and submit a non-identifying form, recording the date of the meeting, the division and location of where the participants work, what the issues were about and whether there was an agreement reached to the Program for evaluation and learning.
Option Three: Mediation and other Conciliatory Support
At any time, but especially after making efforts to communicate directly and to collaborate, any Laboratory employee may approach the Program for support.
Based on a short assessment of the situation the Program will offer one or a combination of the following services:
Mediation is a conciliatory process in which an acceptable third person or persons, with no decision-making authority or power to impose a resolution, intervenes in the conflict or dispute of the participants with the goal of supporting them to reach agreement. The mediator does not impose a decision and respects the parties’ right to decide for themselves.
Participation in mediation offered by the Program is voluntary on the part of the employee. Should the employee choose mediation, supervisors and managers who are participants in the dispute are strongly encouraged to attend the mediation and participate in good faith. Agreement and settlement are entirely voluntary for all parties.
A mediator or pair of mediators will be assigned from the panel of mediators maintained by the Program. Mediators must have received a 40-hour certificate of internal workplace mediation and abide by the Standards of Practice for UCI Mediators.
A non-identifying record of the date of the mediation meeting, the division and location where the participants work, an overview of the issues, and whether there was an agreement reached, will be kept for Program evaluation and learning.
The mediator may support the participants in documenting any agreements reached but will not be responsible for keeping a copy of the agreement. Any notes taken during a mediation will be destroyed. Where an agreement is reached, the mediator will offer to provide follow up services to check on the implementation of that agreement.
Mediation does not replace or remove an employee’s right to PPSM 70 or any other formal grievance procedures. Issues that are already being addressed through a formal process, such as a grievance procedure, may, nonetheless, be mediated if the formal procedure does not specifically preclude mediation and any time frames embedded in those formal procedures are tolled to allow the parties to thoroughly explore mediation. For employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, mediation is an option at all stages of the grievance procedure, including pre-grievance.
A facilitated conversation is an informal process where a member of HR or a line manager facilitates the communication between employees with the goal of supporting them in resolving their conflict, after having been contacted through the open-door option.
Conflict Coaching is a one-on-one process that allows employees to receive empathy while developing an understanding of how to approach a conflict or challenging relationship on their own.
A referral in this context would be referrals to other offices and resources that are accessible to employees, for example the Employee Assistance Program, and the offices for filing complaints.
Mediation Definitions and Acronyms