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Ombud's Corner: Three powerful tools to meet the challenges of 2022!

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As this brand new year starts, I would like to offer my best wishes, from the Ombud’s Office, for a healthy, happy and successful 2022!

In addition to such traditional (and highly appreciated) wishes, what else could we wish each other as colleagues?

Looking back on the year 2021 and on the issues that were raised in the Office, the first wish that comes to my mind is “360-degree” respect. Indeed, we could wish that respect for others would guide all of our actions and behaviours: between peers and colleagues, up and down the hierarchical line, throughout project structures and, most importantly, when we implement procedures and processes. Although these are dictated by our procedural framework and agreed strategies, there are always, for each of us, two ways of working: 1) applying rules and strategies, 2) applying rules and strategies with respect for others. Treating colleagues as we would like to be treated ourselves makes a huge difference in the way we feel at work!

Over the past two years, mostly because of the pandemic but also because of the multiple other challenges that the Laboratory faces, we have all had to adapt to new ways of working and interacting with colleagues. We have had to find new solutions and come up with creative ideas. While reflecting on our ability to adapt, I stumbled upon a very interesting interview with Christian Clot, a French-Swiss researcher and explorer and the founder of the Human Adaptation Institute, who was recently in the spotlight for his Deep Time experiment in the cave of Lombrives. The following extract from this interview resonates particularly well with our community at the beginning of the year:

“Certain hypotheses are gradually confirmed in all our works. First hypothesis: without positive emotion, there is no possible adaptation. Second hypothesis: the management of fatigue is essential. Even in small doses, fatigue generates a lot of errors. Third hypothesis: expertise is not an adaptive solution. That is to say that people with the most diversified cognitive capacities have resources that are far superior to others. If we extrapolate, organisations that have a diversity of human resources do much better than others.”

Wouldn’t you agree with me that this could inspire a second wish for the new year: shouldn’t we leverage, now more than ever, our diversity?

Still rubbing Aladdin’s lamp, the third wish that all of us in the CERN community could share is to get closer to what collaboration, an extensively used term at CERN, fundamentally is: “working WITH someone in a COMMON endeavour”. Too often in the Ombud’s Office, I listen to colleagues affected by conflicts where parties have forgotten that they are working together, towards a common goal, which is the mission of CERN for scientific research, education and peace. I also see colleagues significantly affected by power struggles, fights for scope of authority, competition for influence, and so on. To work in the collaborative spirit that is in CERN’s very DNA could be another precious wish for 2022. Don’t you think so?

We members of the CERN community are lucky to have, among others, three of the most powerful tools to tackle the new year’s challenges: respect, diversity and collaboration. Again, let me wish you and your loved ones a very happy new year and great success in all your endeavours!

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I want to hear from you – feel free to email ombud@cern.ch with any feedback or suggestions for topics you’d like me to address.

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