Keeping It In The Family: Using A Mediator To Handle Business Disputes

Posted on: 30 April 2016

All businesses go through their share of difficult times and disagreements, but this can especially hold true when the business is family owned. Conflicts between siblings, parents and children, or husbands and wives can create a rift that is tough to repair. Sometimes, these conflicts can cause the business to fold. Rather than taking an escalated issue to court, mediation services can help family businesses come to a mutual agreement that will work best for everyone.

Who Is A Mediator?

A mediator is an objective third party whose goal is to help both sides of a disagreement come to an amicable resolution. They have no interest in the outcome of the conflict but are there to serve both sides to help keep each party happy with the final results.

Mediators can be hired through business consulting firms, or they can be independent contractors. Some mediators are legal professionals, but most simply have an understanding of and experience with professional conflict resolution. The process is informal and in a private setting and it does not require the courts to be involved.

How Does Mediation Work?

A mediation session can take place in the family home, an office, or another setting. Ideally, it's best to choose a location that is neutral such as the business place of the mediator or mediation service.

Each side of the conflict will present their argument to the mediator who will take notes and offer suggestions on how to come to an agreement. The mediator will discuss the issue with both parties, sometimes separately and sometimes with both sides together at the table. Each person involved in the disagreement will have an opportunity to make their case and suggest ideas for ways a compromise can be met. 

How Can Mediation Be Successful?

In order for family business owners to come to a final agreement, each side must be willing to compromise. Sacrifices might need to be made, such as agreeing to limit profit shares to help with cash flow or assigning one family member to be in charge of the final say for hiring employees. The process of mediation can be difficult, but the purpose is to focus on a viable outcome and work towards moving forward so everyone will be satisfied.

In most cases, family related issues can be resolved through the use of family business mediation services without the need for lawsuits or other difficult methods. The goal is to put personal feelings aside and solely focus on the business aspect of the conflict so that the problem can be fixed quickly and everyone can get back to focusing on company operations.