HomeAFNCDispute Resolution


Dispute Resolution encompasses many different means to resolve conflict.  The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (ADRA) of 1996 specifically encourages mediation as an alternative to litigation in the Federal sector.  The AFNC is committed to providing education, information, and training regarding dispute resolution, specifically how to use these skills in the workplace.  



General Information

The Air Force recognizes the value of a formal and informal problem solving process designed to deal with conflict at the earliest stage.  AFI 51-1201 Conflict Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution Workplace Disputes states that:  "Maintaining a productive work environment in which disputes are prevented or settled quickly and at the lowest possible organizational level is essential to the effective functioning of the Air Force and the accomplishment of its national security mission."

The spectrum of Dispute Resolution highlights different problem-solving processes.  From coaching and negotiation to facilitation and mediation, all give participants more control over resolution outcome.  As you move to arbitration, binding arbitration and litigation, whether by law or choice, participants give up some or all outcome control.  For example, in litigation the parties have the least amount of control; giving up that control to a judge who has the ultimate authority to decide the outcome.

The AFNC is committed to helping leaders resolve or manage conflict at the lowest possible level.  Understandably, some Dispute Resolution methods are not the answer to all military disputes.  There are appropriate times to use your authority to accomplish your will as a leader.  But, consider how continual use of this power approach, especially with more senior employees, can negatively impact mission accomplishment.

Mediation: A form of dispute resolution where parties retain control of the resolution outcome while relying on a neutral third party to assist with the process. The assistance provided by the mediator/neutral helps ease the friction between the parties. The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (ADRA) defines a neutral as someone who has “no official, financial, or personal (conflict of interest) with respect to the issues at hand.” In other words, the neutral has nothing to gain or lose and is there to help the parties develop their own resolution. In an official mediation, a neutral serves at the will of the parties. If participants in a mediation, whether perception or reality, believed the mediator was biased, pushed for a resolution, or favored one party over the other, trust in the mediation process would break down and become ineffective.


Facilitation: Whether called informal mediation or facilitation this technique is similar, but recognizes the possible absence of neutrality. For example, a military leader may use the concepts of mediation, but is never truly a neutral when dealing with conflict in their own organization. They might have UCMJ authority and execution of that authority could lead to conflicts of interest. Recognized conflicts of interest that mediators avoid at all costs, but a military leader may never be able to avoid. Military problem solving often consists of one party using power over in an attempt to resolve the conflict in their favor. Facilitation, when applied appropriately, allows the parties to retain responsibility for resolution outcome. The role of the facilitator is to assist the parties by helping them understand underlying interests instead of simply focusing on positions. In essence, helping the parties use negotiation skills to resolve their conflict. .


Basic Mediation Course:  This course is the first step in preparing personnel to mediate and/or facilitate workplace disputes, including EEO complaints, employee grievances, labor-management negotiations and unfair labor practice.  The course focuses on the facilitation model and complies with Air Force Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) policy and procedures including the standards of self-determination, impartiality, confidentiality, and competence.  The instruction includes Interest-Based Negotiation (IBN) concepts and prepares attendees to promote public confidence in Air Force Dispute Resolution processes.

First Sergeant Facilitation Course:  This course equips First Sergeants with basic understanding of how to resolve workplace conflicts in order to increase productivity and to build teams.

Supervisor Awareness Course:  This course equips supervisors with a basic understanding of how unresolved workplace conflict hinders productivity and illustrates the use of dispute resolution techniques in problem-solving.  The instructor will relate how the basic principles of IBN can positively impact the outcome for both agency and employee.  The course also promotes awareness of how/when to reach out to a third party to assist with conflict resolution.

Attorney/Advisor Awareness Course:  This course is designed to highlight the negative impact unresolved workplace conflict has on an organization's productivity.  In addition, this course will examine how litigation often fall short of identifying the true underlying interests.  This course will provide advisors with the tools they need to help their client understand the full range of risk in litigation and to offer dispute resolution techniques as a method of problem-solving.  The instructor will relate how the basic principles of IBN can positively impact the outcome for both agency and employee.

Refresher Training:  Sections of the Basic Mediation Course is taught specifically for certified mediators.  This training is also provided in monthly one-hour webinar-based training programs.

If your interested in any of these courses, please contact us.