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Problem Solving Resource Guide

Conflicts and problems will naturally occur in organizations and between individuals, due to differences in goals, work styles, or communication. Conflict may arise based upon changes in the terms and conditions of employment, actions taken by a supervisor, work performance, attendance,
personal situations, along with numerous other events that can disrupt the work environment.

This guide provides approaches to use whenever a problem does arise. It also includes resources and information to assist employees in problem solving and conflict resolution.
This guide does not to replace current policies of KSU or USG. Any conflicts with applicable policies shall be resolved according to the established policy.

Conflict Resolution

KSU encourages managing conflicts in a positive way, that de-escalates the conflict and facilitates problem solving resulting in positive, constructive outcomes. In general conflicts tend to de-escalate when the focus on understanding others and problem solving while de-emphasizing personality issues.

Conflict resolution can be an informal or formal process. It is better to start with informal resolution early on, when problems are manageable. Conflicts will only get more difficult to resolve if neglected over time. However, when there is a critical problem that cannot be resolved by informal means, formal conflict resolution resources are available.

Informal Conflict Resolution

It is both the right and the responsibility of individuals involved in a conflict situation to attempt to resolve conflict on an informal basis. Whenever possible employees are encouraged to seek resolution within their department.

Informal conflict resolution is a commitment to attempt to settle the differences of employees by:

  • Seeking to understand others’ needs and point of view
  • focusing on problem solving
  • developing mutually satisfactory options
  • acknowledging the respective rights and responsibilities of those involved

Informal conflict resolution includes open discussion of disputes without retaliation. It should be done at an early stage, as close as possible to the source of the conflict and in a fair and expeditious manner.

When assistance may be necessary to resolve a conflict employees may seek assistance from Human Resources’ Employee Relations Team (ERT),Ombuds, Coaching, or other resources for informal conflict resolution support.

Formal Conflict Resolution 

It is the intent of the University to encourage and facilitate informal resolution of employee complaints. However, when differences in views cannot be informally resolved, the University provides for a formal review procedure as part of the resolution process.

This process allows individuals to seek resolution through the appropriate University grievance policy and procedure. If other attempts have failed, it is the right of any employee to seek formal resolution. No employee shall be subject to reprisal for using or participating in the grievance and administrative review processes.

The formal process involves filing a written grievance for administrative review. While a complaint is in the formal process stages, it remains an option to request that informal conflict resolution take place. Informal resolution of a grievance may be agreed to by the employee and other involved parties at any stage of the grievance process. Both the formal and informal procedures are considered as alternative dispute resolution processes.

Staff Grievance Procedure 

The Staff Grievance Procedure is available to any classified employee working at least .5 FTE (full-time equivalency) who has completed the provisional employment period. The Staff Grievance Procedure is not available to temporary employees, faculty, students or non-University employees (consultants, contractors, etc.).

The Staff Grievance Procedure may be used by an eligible employee to bring a grievance about:

  • an action or decision that is inconsistent with a specific University rule, regulation or policy
  • a suspension, demotion, or other disciplinary action or actions
  • an involuntary termination (involuntary terminations do not include resignation or retirement).

The Staff Grievance Procedure may not be used to bring a grievance about:

  • performance evaluations
  • flexible work options or decisions
  • reductions in force
  • salary and classification determinations
  • organization of a department or allocation of its resources
  • termination of grant funding
  • non-renewal of a limited term position. 

Grievances like concerns or complaints regarding allegations of harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity or national origin, religion, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status should be referred directly to the Kennesaw State University Office of Institutional Equity.

If an employee wishes to file a grievance, they must do so in writing within 10 business days. Human Resources or the Office of Institutional Equity staff will assist staff in the filing of a grievance and will provide the specific policy, process, time requirements, and related information.

The grievance is not resolved through administrative channels, the aggrieved employee may submit a written request to the President for an impartial Board of Review to be appointed to hear the appeal. The aggrieved employee must submit the written request to the President within fifteen (15) business days from the date of notice that the administrative review process is complete.

The President shall, within 10 business days after receiving a written request, appoint, or have appointed in accordance with the approved and written grievance procedures, a five-member impartial Board of Review to hear appeals from employees.

The recommendation of the Board of Review shall be forwarded to the President for final decision. The President's decision will be final at the institutional level.

If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the employee, he or she may file an application for review, in writing, to the Board of Regents within twenty (20) calendar days following the written decision of the President. The Board of Regents reserves discretionary authority to review all decisions made by the member institutions. The Board of Regents normally will only review extraordinary cases, such as those where proper procedures may have been violated, where the decision is unsupported by the facts, or where the decision violates University or Board of Regents policy. 

Faculty Grievance Procedure

The purpose of the University Faculty Conflict Resolution Procedures is to assure that there are venues where complaints may be heard and resolved at the lowest level possible. The procedures allow for an immediate attempt to resolve all types of conflicts informally at the level where they occur. In addition, these policies also provide for an administrative review at the department, division, college, and University level when requested.

All faculty members are strongly encouraged to work through conflicts informally beginning with the person with whom they have differences. If a faculty member is not able to resolve an issue, he or she is strongly encouraged to meet with the Ombuds as soon as possible for assistance in seeking an informal resolution.

All faculty are required to utilize the Ombuds in an attempt to resolve any complaint or complaints with the respondent before initiating a formal complaint.

The University System Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution(CNCR) is also available for use in this process. If informal resolution has not resolved the complaint, faculty may avail themselves of the formal faculty grievance procedure. Grievance policy specifics may be found in the KSU Faculty Handbook.

Support Services Available to Employees

There are many resources available at no charge to KSU employees. Each office listed in this section provides information and resources to assist in problem resolution: 

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
1-888-960-3305

An EAP is professional help when you need it in your work or personal life. Trained knowledgeable resources provide advice for the many life issues we all face. As a KSU employee, you and your family have the benefit of a customized assistance program which offers professional counseling and consultation through Espyr. All these resources are confidential and at no cost to you.

Human Resources Employee Relations Team (ERT)    
470-578-6030
hr@kennesaw.edu 

Emphasizing a positive approach to informal problem resolution, the ERT provides consulting services, advice, support and referral in situations where an employee is concerned with fairness or safety in the work environment, resolution of concerns regarding terms and conditions of employment, or application of policy and procedures.

The following conflict resolution consultation services are provided by the ERT:

  • acts as a resource that acknowledges an employee's right to address concerns
  • encourages the resolution of concerns without reprisal
  • develops and promotes a pro-active conflict resolution philosophy through positive approaches to informal problem-solving
  • facilitates informal resolution of concerns regarding terms and conditions of employment and application of policy and procedures
  • provides information regarding available options and resources
  • researches and analyzes concerns
  • facilitates productive discussions between and among employees
  • develops and recommends workable resolutions.

Human Resources can also assist with policies and practices, research, services, and programs to support interdependent work/life issues. These work/life issues include:

  • child/elder care
  • alternative work schedules
  • worksite wellness
  • other work/life events. 

Human Resources Benefits
470-578-3195
benefits@kennesaw.edu

The Human Resources Benefits Office is responsible for interpretation and communication of the policies and provisions of the University's extensive health and welfare benefit programs. Benefits representatives provide a full range of services to employees and eligible dependents.

These services include:

  • individual and group benefit counseling sessions
  • eligibility and utilization procedures regarding
  • medical
  • dental
  • vision
  • life insurance
  • disability provisions
  • retirement planning
  • savings and investment workshops.

Workers’ Compensation
470-578-6030 (Workers' Compensation Representative)
hr@kennesaw.edu

When an employee experiences a work-related injury or illness, Human Resources will initiate workers' compensation procedures once they are notified by KSU Public Safety. The objective of this program is to provide employee support and expedite employee recovery due to work-related injuries.

Office of Institutional Equity (OIE)
470-578-5189
eeo@kennesaw.edu

The OIE is responsible for ensuring that KSU complies with all applicable laws and policies regarding discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity or national origin, religion, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status. The office also conducts discrimination and harassment prevention and awareness training.

Ombuds Office
470-578-7773 (Kennesaw Campus) or 678-915-7414 (Marietta Campus)
ombuds@kennesaw.edu

An Ombuds provides confidential and informal assistance in the resolution of university-related concerns, especially those not being addressed adequately through normal procedures. He or she is an independent person who attempts to consider all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective manner. An Ombuds cannot impose solutions but can help identify options and strategies for resolution.

Professional Coaching through the Center for University Learning         
470-578-3450
cul@kennesaw.edu

Coaching is confidential one-on-one mentoring or team building to help individuals and teams improve leadership skills, communication, professional effectiveness and working relationships. Confidentiality is honored whenever possible, and information is only released with your permission or as required by law.

The Center for University Learning can also provide team and individual professional development including conflict management, communications, leadership, and work styles. www.ksulearning.com

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)
470-578-3321
ehs@kennesaw.edu

Environment Health and Safety (EHS) is responsible for minimizing risks resulting from exposure to physical, chemical, biological and other hazards relating to University operations.

Safety programs include:

  • control of hazardous biohazards
  • control of hazardous chemicals
  • fire safety
  • industrial hygiene
  • sanitation 

EHS is the liaison to state and federal regulatory agencies responsible for monitoring the University's use of hazardous materials, as well as to in-house safety committees that provide expert advice in the control of specific processes or facilities.

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