ADR: It's a Win-Win

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joe McFadden
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
You're diligently working at your shop, doing all that you can to help the Air Force mission. Yet as you're trying to concentrate on an important assignment, you're constantly distracted by the obnoxious guitar-shredding tunes coming from a nearby radio.

You politely ask the owner to turn it down, but instead he cranks the volume up. You wonder about telling your supervisor, but the person in question not only happens to outrank you, he is your supervisor. So what do you do? Go to your commander or first sergeant? Seek legal action? Or just deal with it?

Fortunately, there's another method available for you and other Airmen in your situation who may have initial reservations about doing so. The 1st Special Operations Wing Equal Opportunity office uses the Alternative Dispute Resolution program as another means of resolving disputes without resorting to a lengthy and often expensive, formal complaint process.

"Many people go through conflict at work and don't know how to address it," said Master Sgt. Christopher Moore, 1st Special Operations Wing Equal Opportunity Director and ADR program manager. "It doesn't make for a good working environment. ADR is an option people have to help address it and find a solution."

ADR is a confidential, voluntary process where a person with a complaint can seek facilitative mediation. During the ADR process, a trained neutral mediator engages the involved parties in an open and candid discussion designed to highlight common interests and reach solutions. They may withdraw their grievance at any time and/or file an EO compliant.

Sergeant Moore emphasized that proper communication and professionalism could help mitigate problems before being taken to a higher link in the chain of command. But he also advised that cases involving sexual harassment and racial discrimination may be better suited through EO's formal complaint process.

"Zero-tolerance means just that," he said. "One incident won't be tolerated. But if it's about conflicting personalities, that's a perfect case for ADR. We'll then sit that person down along with the other person involved and ask them how they can resolve those differences."

A brochure about ADR states that there are many key advantages to using the program as opposed to using a formal complaint process. The benefits include giving the parties more control in creating a mutual satisfactory outcome and providing flexibility for them to speak to "non-legal" issues like personality conflicts and communication problems.

"A lot of concerns can be resolved or at least addressed if you have good communication," Sergeant Moore said. "And as long as you're professional with your statements and exhibiting the Air Force core values, how could you get in trouble?"

Since its implementation, ADR has helped save the Air Force paperwork, money and manpower spent in resolving formal complaints. Whereas a formal EO complaint takes an average of 405 days to process from start to finish, informal complaints through ADR average 42 days.

ADR not only improves on time and costs but the attitudes of the people who use them. According to a 2009 customer satisfaction survey, more than 91 percent of parties involved had a satisfied or very satisfied view of the process. In fact, the 1st SOW/EO's ADR booklet advertises the program as a "win/win" solution for everyone involved.

With results like this and the opportunity to find a successful resolution, Sergeant Moore said he hopes more people will utilize the program to make their surroundings a more productive and enjoyable place to work.

"If you're having a dispute with a neighbor or co-worker for whatever reason and don't feel comfortable using your unit to resolve this, we're here for you," Sergeant Moore said. "If you don't want to seek it, that's fine. But we're always going to offer it to you."

For more information about ADR, visit the Air Force ADR program website at or contact Sergeant Moore at 884-7888.