Omaha FC Ombudsman Description
The Sporting Omaha FC (SOFC) ombudsman is responsible for neutral and impartial dispute resolution, providing confidential and informal assistance to individuals associated with the Club including parents, players, coaches, staff, employees, and volunteers.
The ombudsman's role is to protect against abuse, bias and other improper treatment or unfairness. Serving as a designated neutral, the ombudsman is not an advocate for any individual or for the Club as a whole but, rather, for fairness. He or she acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering individual's questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns and disputes. In considering any given instance, the rights of all parties that might be involved are taken into account.
The ombudsman is a resource to absolve conflict between any parties associated with the Club: coach-parent, board-coach, parent-board, and coach-coach only after the proper channels and chains of communication have been tried:
Player to coach to DOC to ED to Board.
Player to coach to DOC to ED to Board
Coach to DOC to ED to Board (includes coach to coach conflicts)
DOC to ED to Board
ED to Board
Board to Board
The ombudsman is independent of existing administrative structures and reports directly to the President of the Club. If the matter at issue concerns the President specifically, then the ombudsman shall report to the Vice President.
While maintaining confidentiality of communications, the ombudsman prepares an annual report to the SOFC Board which may be disseminated to any individual associated with the Club upon request. Based on anonymous aggregate data, this report discusses trends in the reporting of grievances and concerns, identifies patterns or problem areas in SOFC policies and practices, and may recommend revisions and improvements.
The ombudsman does not accept legal notice on behalf of SOFC.
In order to maintain an unbiased and objective perspective the ombudsman will not have any clear emotional or relative tie with any board, staff, or Club member. The ombudsman will not have a child that plays, or could potentially play, in the Club nor a wife/husband, sibling, etc. who serves as a coach or board member in SOFC
Critical Skills and Characteristics
Communication and Problem-Solving Skills
The ombudsman must have outstanding communication skills and be able to communicate effectively with individuals associated with the Club and at all levels.
It is imperative that the ombudsman have excellent problem-solving skills and be able to gather information, analyze it and as necessary, help the inquirer or complainant develop appropriate options and actions.
The ombudsman will maintain a professional demeanor, should have strong presentation skills, and should be able to organize and communicate information to a variety of groups of people.
The ombudsman will be knowledgeable about the Club - its structure, culture, policies and practices. The ombudsman must have excellent networking skills and be able to establish and maintain broad contacts throughout the Club as a whole.
Conflict Resolution Skills
An essential element of the ombudsman's role is that of facilitating the resolution of conflict between parties. It is important that the ombudsman have a thorough understanding of what leads to conflict, the nature of conflict, and methods for resolution. The skills used to assist inquirers or complainants resolve their conflicts include: helping people learn how to deal with the matter directly if they wish to do this, serving as a communication conduit between the parties, informally bringing the parties together, bringing them together through an informal mediation process, approaching the conflict generically (especially when a complainant is afraid of retaliation), and influencing systems change which could obviate the individual problem. The ombudsman must also have the ability to help complainants determine which conflict resolution method would be appropriate for their specific situation.
Sensitivity to Different Perspectives
The ombudsman will be sensitive to dealing with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and points of view. The ombudsman must be open, objective, and will seek to understand issues from different perspectives. The ombudsman should be innovative in developing options that are responsive to differing needs.
The ombudsman will have a reputation for integrity and for dealing fairly, effectively and in a timely fashion with all constituents. Confidentiality is critical. Therefore, the ombudsman must keep information confidential and must use good judgment about when and how such information can be shared, while being mindful of maintaining professional standards.
An ombudsman will not be risk-averse and should understand that this position may, on occasion, challenge even the highest levels of the administration in an effort to foster fair and just practices.
Dispute Resolution/Consultation and Referral
Provide impartial and confidential consultation to members of the SOFC community who are aggrieved or concerned about an issue
Assist inquirers in interpreting SOFC policies and procedures
Provide assistance to inquirers by clarifying issues and generating options for resolution
Facilitate the inquirer's assessment of the pros and cons of possible options
If direct action by the ombudsman may be an appropriate option, obtain the inquirer's agreement and permission before proceeding
If necessary, and while maintaining confidentiality, conduct appropriate informal fact-finding in order to better understand an issue from all perspectives
Consult with managers/faculty to develop cooperative strategies for complaint resolution
When appropriate, facilitate group meetings, use shuttle diplomacy, or negotiation skills to facilitate communication among parties in conflict
Encourage flexible administrative practices to maximize the administration's ability to meet the needs of all members of the OFC community equitably
Whenever possible and appropriate, provide referrals to other resources
Policy Analysis and Feedback
Serve as a Club resource for Board and staff in formulating or modifying policy and procedures, raising issues that may surface as a result of discrepancies between the stated goals of the Club and actual practice
Review periodically the patterns of grievances and make appropriate recommendations for policies or practices to reduce or eliminate recurring grievances
Provide early warning of new areas of organizational concern, upward feedback, critical analysis of systemic need for improvement, and make systems change recommendations)
Establish/Manage the Office of the Ombudsman
Formulate, manage and monitor the overall goals, direction, programs, and budget of the office.
Ensure that the integrity of the office is maintained through independence, fair process, neutrality, impartiality, confidentiality and timely attention to the resolution of issues while treating people with dignity and respect.