Skagit Stakeholder Meeting. NWS Doug Weber coordinated this extremely important meeting with all stakeholders of flood control and fisheries resources in Skagit Valley on 2 Nov. The purpose of the meeting was to better understand what each of us brings to the table to enhance the quality of life and the environment in the Skagit Basin, and to move towards strengthening partnerships and improving communications. Only by doing so together, do we have a chance to appropriately prepare for and properly mitigate potential disasters in the region in a sustainable manner. I personally chaired the meeting attended by over 60 officials from 26 governments including all NWS reps with Skagit Basin missions (GI study, Regulatory, EM, PAO, H&H) and local officials such as County and Diking District Commissioners, Mayors, Tribal reps, and Congressional staffers(Senators Cantwell and Murray, Congressman Larsen), State and Federal Agencies, including FEMA, Washington State Emergency Management, USFWS, USFS, and other interested agencies, and the local press also participated. We had highly skilled facilitators from the Seattle Federal Executive Board (SFEB) to help us by facilitating this meeting amongst groups normally in direct opposition to each other and covering potentially explosive issues. (FY05 highlights from the SFEB Mediation group that handles all of Seattle Federal Agencies include: $2.6 million saved, 191 mediations and facilitations with an 89% settlement rate.) At the meeting, facilitators set clear ground rules for dialogue, everyone introduced themselves, I gave a 30 minute command briefing as a framework for future discussions, and then all broke off into six teams to brainstorm to answer two questions relating to current obstacles preventing the team from achieving success and what specific steps need to be taken to achieve future success. Recommend you read the article written by the local reporter, James Geluso, that can be found at http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com/articles/2005/11/03/news/news02.txt.
Col. Lewis, District Engineer for the Seattle District, Corps of Engineers.
Thanks so much for the excellent training you and Kathryn Olson gave the Associates yesterday. Your presentation was great and the subject matter was very timely. You gave us new ways to think about conflict and new strategies to use when it arises. Thanks again!
Diane R. Roberts
Kent DO 191
Nicely done. I liked the simple breakdown of the process and humor used to deliver it. Robbie-l work in HR as a first line supervisor and I feel that you gave me a tremendous insight into disciplinary actions and performance issues that I did not receive with my tenure and training in HR. Your style and background (stories/history) add a touch of reality to your class that was very helpful. Having had the experience of working with a performance/conduct case, this course validated where I had taken correct steps and where I would’ve done better. We all know there are problem employees in the Federal service and we know we don’t adequately train supervisors to recognize, analyze, and address those issues. At the very minimum all mandatory supervisory training should include an introduction or review of how to identify discipline vs. performance issues, and the Douglas Factors.” I believe many problems could be mitigated or resolved earlier if supervisors had this course integrated with their other mandatory supervisory training. I will pursue this in my own agency. I hope the sponsoring SFEB hears this too. Excellent course.
Excellent class. Should be part of all supervisor orientation in Federal service.
The course is very helpful and a tool that all supervisors should be aware of. I would suggest that this training be offered to all supervisors at the VA. Instructor is very knowledgeable. He has control and keeps the class involved to keep their attention.
The exercises were very informative and opened my eyes to how to handle issues better.
Great course. Well presented.
Robbie does an exceptional job of bringing the subject home. Great examples! It was extremely helpful and very real.
Awesome! Robbie doesn’t sugarcoat the subject like some government classes on the subject. He really brings the perspective that supervisors/managers must be ready for “anything”. The course gives supervisors a realization that they must make a choice and if necessary be ready to take the “offensive” utilizing their HR resources and following through. An excellent class for any supervisor or manager on how to best deal with the 5-10% of staff [who present problems]. The course and materials and establish a good foundation on the “how to’s” of dealing with conduct and performance issues.
Great information Robbie! I truly appreciate the focus on this unpleasant aspect of employee relations. Even though conduct performance problems occur in a minority segment of the work force, the paths of action are fraught with potholes! I would definitely like to consider presenting a VA-specific class at the Medical Center. Our department pays for employee education and our preference is to reach more employees with on-site training.
Good solid class. Good background information. Application to small agency or federal agency without unions make the class limiting. I don’t think much can be done for correction. Overall very good.
I thought the course was outstanding and hope that it can be presented again to managers and union representatives.
I wish the workbook had more references to reference works that might be accessible to class members (CFR, the Federal manuals on HR, EEO, etc.”). There’s probably a small library that every HR department should have-- maybe just 10 to 20 books and manuals. What are those titles? This was very worthwhile. I would recommend it to my supervisor, HR staffer, or HR attorney.
"Dealing with Performance and Conduct Issues" evaluation comments, September 15-16, 2004
"Dear All- Especially Laura and Nancy :-),
THANK YOU so much for what must have been outstanding mediator work. I am pleased- delighted in fact that you were successful in making the parties feel safe enough to enter into and stick with the process. I am aware that there was some strong disagreement about who had come to the table and so forth. Without crossing any lines concerning confidentiality- and understanding that each participant contributed to the mediation in their own way, I thank you again for what must have been masterful work on your part.
Chris, I thank you for all that you do to encourage and facilitate such excellence in mediation."
HRSC-NW, Code 10
"On 17 and 18 June 2004, you facilitated a labor and management working session of six managers and four labor representatives at the Navy Human Resources Center in Silverdale, Washington. This session's assignment was to the command's tobacco use policy; a policy that can generate some high emotions for both smokers and non-smokers. Both smokers and non-smokers were at this session creating some lively discussion. During that session you kept the group on course and helped ensure that the group was successful in developing a revised policy.
Your assistance and leadership during this two-day working session was instrumental in the session's success and was greatly appreciated".
Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility
"I just wanted to let you know that I thought this was an excellent class and that Robbie did an absolutely wonderful job! Very Good! "
Carol A. Key
Supervisor, Washington Section
Seattle Airports District Office
"I just wanted to let you know that Mark Kuciemba did a fabulous job of facilitating our OR&R outreach retreat. Without his leading questions and organizational efforts, the outcome of the meeting would not have been nearly as successful. We had a limited amount of time with people who had come from the east coast specifically for the meeting. We are especially pleased to have gotten so much accomplished. In addition to keeping us focused, we had a really good time and came away with products and goals. Thank you for referring him. "
"On behalf of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and the entire
Endurance Team (City of Seattle), we wanted to thank you for your gracious and
helpful facilitation earlier this month. Our expectations of the process were
more than met. Lisa Richmond
As the project sponsors, our department was thrilled to see the parties reach a mutually agreeable outcome, and to leave the process feeling as if the City had remained a friend to both parties. You and Julia did an excellent job of creating a respectful environment for honest discussion, and keeping everyone focused on the goal of a profit-sharing agreement. Your patience in the face of what was, in the end, quite a long day, was especially appreciated. Our department was very fortunate to have access to such excellent service. Many thanks for all of your efforts on our behalf. "
Project Manager, ARTS UP
"Kept me from pounding the table and punching people. We actually came to an agreement!"
"Mediation is an option that addresses workplace issues faster than other traditional forums: grievance, discipline, Loudermill meetings, law suits and Civil Service Commission processes, therefore, job stress experienced is lessened and discipline may be unnecessary. The monetary savings are significant too. There should be no shame in having neutral third parties assist in positive workplace changes through the mediation process. ADR was my last resort to better communications with my supervisor as retirement [from the organization] was a viable option to lessen my discomfort in the office." (Employee's retirement plans are now on hold.)"
Employee Participant, City of Seattle
"We have succeeded in settling some difficult cases with facilitated mediation. The process affords a great opportunity for both parties to explore and resolve their dispute with the assistance of experienced mediators. Even when mediation does not lead to an immediate settlement, the process has often helped the parties reach settlement at a later time. The experienced mediators of the FEB's ADR Consortium are a valuable resource to us when we consider early resolution of disputes."
Timothy B. Williams, Director, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Chair, SFEB.
"I think [the process] is a valuable tool in getting people to see each other's side." "I believe the process creates opportunities that would otherwise be undiscovered."
"Would you recommend this service to your coworkers? Absolutely! There had been a long-term degree of conflict/tension that I think we clearly broke through. The key was also that we were both very committed to resolving it once and for all."
"I believe it was an interesting process and it felt great to be able to talk uninterrupted without all sorts of defenses going up."
"Things are working well so far with the solutions we found. Excellent process. I recommend it highly. But the key is both persons wanting a mutually agreeable solution."
"I can't say I was looking forward to this, but it was an overwhelmingly positive experience!"
"Need to have all parties involved [in the ADR process] early. The longer the parties are in the process, the more barriers disappear."
"Thanks for your assistance. It was a rewarding experience." - Agency
"Could not have been better! A thousand cheers plus one more for the mediators!! This was one tough case! The mediators and the process were of the utmost value."
Attorney, Passman and Kaplan
"The mediators were excellent! Great program!"
Supervisor, City of Seattle
"The mediators were excellent! I'm hopeful of a positive outcome, while realizing that the participants are primarily responsible for that. Great Program!"
Employee Participant, City of Seattle
On behalf of myself and my staff, I would like to thank you for agreeing to let Mark Kuciemba participate as a facilitator in WASC's Stakeholder's Meeting, November 5-6, 2002. The primary purpose of this conference was for WASC to better understand our customer needs both now and in the future and to develop some specific action items that will help us work together to better' accomplish NOAA strategic objectives.
Mark's enthusiastic involvement is exactly what we hoped to convey His facilitation skills brought out eager participation from the audience. The end result of Mark's insightful and informative leadership made it easy for the audience to find their voice and work together to produce results for WASC to study and develop a plan to improve our services and programs.
Kelly C. Sandy, Director Western Administrative Support Center
My agency, the Internal Revenue Service, has had very positive experiences in using the excellent services provided by the mediators through the ADR Consortium. As a recent example, we used a facilitator for two employee meetings held in Eastern Washington. The Territory Manager indicated that she worked personally, with the ADR Program Manager to provide the right mediator for the situation. To quote from her, "The mediator listened to the long drawn out story and offered many viable options." To further quote the participants, "The mediator was excellent and as a result the group has made tremendous strides toward resolving the issues."
Harry Manaka Area Director, SBSE Area 12 IRS
"Very experienced mediators - job very well done!"
"I feel that this process has successfully resolved some long-standing issues and that others could benefit from this service."
"People need to be made aware that this service is available and that their careers won't suffer from having used it."
"I just want to take a moment to thank you for your help in setting up yesterday's mediation. I am very satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. The mediators did an excellent job in mediating a workable settlement between my coworker and myself; and out work environment is so much better as a result of our agreement. Again, thank you!"
Employee Participant, City of Seattle
"I would absolutely recommend this service to my coworkers! There has been a long-term degree of conflict/tension that I think we clearly broke through. The key was that we were both very committed to resolving it once and for all. It was an interesting process and felt great to be able to talk uninterrupted without all sorts of defenses going up."
"Things are working so well with the solutions we found. EXCELLENT process. I recommend it highly!"
Employee ParticipantBack to ADR page