Alternative dispute resolution – Does win-win really exist?

  • Published
  • By Jerald A. S. Alexander
  • 509th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity
"Don't find fault. Find a remedy." -- Henry Ford
Has a situation of this nature occured to you or someone you know? A disagreement between two individuals becomes a heated discussion. The dispute might be with a co-worker, a supervisor, and customer or with a neighbor. Each person cites the flaws of the other individual. This bitterness continues to fester without any resolution. Depending upon the scenario, individuals start to recruit volunteers to justify their mistreatment; or hearsay becomes the preferred weapon. The conflict is now an impasse.

The Air Force views this as having "a workplace dispute." A dispute is either a formal or informal divisive claim or issue that arises out of an existing or probable employment relationship between the employees, applicants for employment, or military members, for which a remedial process is authorized by law, regulation, or policy.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is the preferred method used to diffuse conflict in the workplace. ADR is strictly voluntary. The discussion is facilitated by a neutral third party whose sole purpose is to ensure a productive dialogue. ADR techniques include mediation, facilitation, and other collaborative problem solving techniques. These methods along with other early collaborative dispute resolution processes have been shown to be highly effective in settling conflicts while conserving resources.

Statistics from the General Counsel of the Air Force reflects since 2007, over one-third of Air Force workplace disputes have used ADR, and nearly three-quarters of those disputes were resolved. In fiscal year 2009, more than 91 percent of the parties were satisfied or very satisfied with the process. These statistics include feedback from members in the Whiteman AFB community.

Behavior inconsistent with Air Force policy that normally results in Uniform Code of Military Justice violations and/or criminal behavior should not be mediated. Examples include fraud, waste, abuse, physical or sexual assault, security violations, and alcohol/drug abuse.

If you are experiencing a work related concern, ask yourself one of the following questions. One - "Do I wish to continue working or living with conflict or communication problems impacting the mission, productivity or helping others?" Two - "What is the worst case situation that could happen if I allow these predicaments to continue between this other individual and myself?"

Want help resolving differences in your professional setting? Call 509th BW/EO at DSN 975-5637/38, commercial (660) 687-5637/38.