Informal Conflict Management System - Management Response and Action Plan

Project Title: Evaluation for the Informal Conflict Management System (ICMS)

Responsibility Centre: Office for Integrity and Conflict Management in the Workplace (OICMW)

Conclusions Recommendations Management Response Action Plan Responsible Manager
Planned Implementation Date
Some progress has been made in shifting the Department towards a collaborative workplace culture that is open and effective in resolving conflict. However, given the modest budget and the comparatively small size and scope of the ICMS, enhancement to the program needs to be made to achieve real cultural change

Awareness of ICMS services
Although some progress had been made, overall awareness of the ICMS services and activities within the Department remains relatively low, especially among employees. The evaluation noted that managers tend to be more knowledgeable about the program.

Moderate progress has been made in enhancing accessibility to and use of ICMS services. Employees reported having difficulty in understanding what ICMS services are, the benefits of these services, their distinction from other conflict management options, and how to access the services.

A key message from the evaluation is that the ICMS services need the support of the senior management as well as involvement and participation of the ICMS partners. This support would improve the employees' perception of the neutrality and impartiality of the ICMS.
Recommendation 1: It is recommended that the Director of OICMW develop and implement a department-wide communications plan for the ICMS to increase awareness about the program and the services it offers among staff, managers and program partners. Agreed.

The OICMW will develop and implement a Communications Plan for the ICMS to increase awareness about the program and services offered to Justice employees and managers.
The OICMW will work with the Communications Branch to develop a Communications Plan.

It is understood that achieving culture change is a long-term process and includes the contributions of many, e.g. the OICMW, employees, managers, senior management and union representatives.

The OICMW will work with partners such as the Professional Development Division (PDD) and the Dispute Prevention and Resolution Division (DPRD) to incorporate where possible information on ICMS and services into existing Justice training, information sessions and development programs.

The OICMW will supplement training and information sessions by reaching out to other groups, such as management committees, staff retreats, working groups or networks to raise awareness about the program and the services offered by the OICMW.

In 2010, information sessions on ICMS were given as part of the Diversity Awareness Forums and the New Employee Orientation Program. Information sessions were also provided to the Leaders Network and the Employment Equity Steering Committee.
Director, OICMW Complete a Communications Plan before end of fiscal year (2010-2011) with roll-out and implementation targeted for 2011-2012.
Need for training
The results of the evaluation demonstrate that workplace conflict exists in the Department. Informal conflict management training helps to prevent the escalation of conflict by providing managers and staff with the appropriate interpersonal skills and methods of managing conflict. Ideally, employees will feel more confident and may be more likely to address conflict at an earlier stage.

To date, the overall impact of the ICMS training to manage workplace conflict has been constrained by the low number of sessions that have been offered, particularly in the regions. There is a need for more training sessions as well as a broader range of topics than is currently available.
Recommendation 2: It is recommended that the Director of OICMW increase department-wide training for managers and staff about how to prevent, identify and manage workplace conflict. Agreed.

Currently, there is no training program within OICMW. Discussions are underway with PDD and DPRD to develop an integrated training approach for ICMS. The OICMW will also include Staff Relations in these discussions.
Training and information sessions will be developed cooperatively between OICMW and its partners, while keeping in mind the limited level of resources available within OICMW to develop and deliver training to managers and staff.

First priority will be to examine how ICMS can be incorporated into current training and information sessions offered by PDD and DPRD. Once this is accomplished, the OICMW will examine other ways and means of providing training for managers and employees.

The OICMW will examine best practices and training tools used by other departments that could be tailored and complement PDD and DPRD training.
Director, OICMW The first step will be to review current training programs offered by PDD and DPRD and identify which courses could be tailored to include ICMS information (to be completed by June 2011). Once these courses have been identified, steps will be taken to revise the content of the course to include a component on ICMS.
Accessibility and quality service of ICMS services:
Respondents who used the ICMS services tend to be somewhat satisfied with the services. Although employees in the NCR have greater access to ICMS services compared with other regions, they often report finding it difficult to access these services easily. The evaluation found that the ICMS Office had fewer staff compared with other federal departments with respect to the availability of conflict resolution practitioners, resolution officers and mediators.
Some also expressed concerns about the quality of service from the ICMS relating to a perceived lack of experience among ICMS staff in conflict resolution and responses to inquiries in a timely fashion. There is a need for more staff working in ICMS.
Recommendation 3: It is recommended that the Director of OICMW increase department-wide access to trained practitioners and knowledgeable staff working in/on behalf of the ICMS. Agreed.

The Evaluation Report is timely and provides an opportunity for the Director of OICMW and senior management to discuss the types of services and support that should be offered within Justice and those that should be contracted out. This analysis will also be helpful in considering the size and structure of the ICMS team.
Discussions will take place with senior management to finalize the mandate for Justice ICMS.

Discussions will also be required with senior management and key partners such as regions, staff relations and union representatives.
Director, OICMW Discussion to take place with the ADM Management Sector as part of the 2011-2012 budget allocation exercise.
Role of partners
The ICMS program was developed with the expectation that representatives from management, HR, unions, regional offices and others with expertise in conflict management would play an important role in sustaining the progress of the ICMS through activities such as promoting the program to others and referring people to ICMS services. The results of the evaluation indicate that while ICMS partners tend to be very familiar with the ICMS, they have not been very active in promoting the program in their units or with other departmental employees.
Recommendation 4: It is recommended that the Director of OICMW seek opportunities to actively engage partners (i.e., HR, unions) in resolving conflict in the Department. Agreed.

OICMW absolutely recognizes that collaborative engagement with all partners is essential to the successful development and maturity of Justice ICMS.
Union engagement has begun and will continue to be expanded to include all of our partners in the coming months. Director, OICMW Ongoing
Location of ICMS Office
Some respondents felt unsure about visiting the ICMS Office for fear of reprisals. They described the Office location as being too conspicuous - too open to the public view. There may be ways of providing the services in a more discrete manner, away from other departmental offices, so that people don't feel uneasy about going to the Office. If people feel unsure that their privacy will be protected, they may be more likely either to avoid the Office or to seek other, more formal mechanisms to respond to their situation.
Recommendation 5: It is recommended that the Director of OICMW, in cooperation with partners, examine ways in which in-person ICMS services can be provided to employees and managers in a more discrete manner. Agreed. The OICMW moved to a new location in the lower Atrium at East Memorial Building - 284 Wellington Street in October 2010.

A smaller room is also available for ICMS Officers to meet privately with employees, including managers as required.
Director, OICMW Completed