Family businesses are incredibly strong, resilient and yet require attention to have a successful future. Like some say, never mix business and pleasure. Well, that’s exactly what family businesses are all about. Members of the family wear different hats at different times.
During the day, the parent, father, wife, husband, mother, son or daughter sibling, might become the boss or have a completely different position. In the evening, the roles might reverse for familial interaction, decision-making and parenting. As you may imagine, that’s not an easy transformation and often, behaviors in one role could be in odds with situations that arise in another, resulting in conflict.
Some family businesses are “mom-and-pop” shops that expand into larger businesses. But, on other occasions, there are family businesses that have been carrying on for generations, involving the extended family and generations of members. The dynamics in those businesses can be even more complex. The interesting part of family businesses is that each one is very unique and fulfilling– more so than larger corporations. They often follow similar rules, yet strive to ensure a workplace that is enticing for regular workers another own families
Since family businesses are less initially dependent on “outsiders”, their are guidelines are flexible and often different from other businesses. Now flexibility can be a good thing in some cases, except that when disputes arise. Family conflicts are inevitable and most families and even many companies are often not prepared to handle them effectively. The personal or emotional stake that each member carries can make it impossible to carry off objective negotiations that yield logical win-win situations. By the very nature of the business, what’s good for the company may not always be good for its people.
Historically, family business disputes have been hesitant when it comes to getting professional help. Families hesitate to put their “personal” problems, even though they really are professional in nature, out in front of the world. They turn to family friends or elders or even just ignore the problem for years at a time, resigning to the fact that there is seemingly no solution for these endless complications.
In recent years, however, more and more families have turned to professional mediators and consultants. Alternative Law initiated this trend with its money back guarantee, allowing people to feel comfortable and secure in these processes without the fear of making a bad investment. Family Business Mediators can help, years before, the situation escalates to the point where frustration, or deep conflict develops. In most family business cases, Alternative Law mediators use some of the following steps to arrive at long-term our Best Ideas Win solutions.
Family Business Mediation Success
- We take the time to understand the company’s and the family’s history and its key participants. They hold individual interviews as well as group sessions with key participants to understand them and their roles in the business and in the family better. Participants are much more likely to share these details with a mediator that’s a third party with no personal bias or emotional stake in the family or business but someone that deals with the issue as carefully as a relative would.
- We set the rules that the family often ignores to do. They help re-engineer roles and processes to align with the best interests of the family and the business that can lead to long-term harmony. Change is often difficult to swallow initially but through detailed negotiations and equipped with tools and experiences developed over a life time of professional negotiations, mediators are able to bring family members at ease with the path moving forward.
- Best of all, family business members now operate at a higher level knowing that they have someone to turn to confidentially, which is protected by law. Someone that is intimately involved with the family business without the personal bias.
- Because it is so successfully, mediations are even becoming part of many small business contracts. Instead of writing detailed contract clauses that describe “what if” scenarios and rules around their handling, they simply mention the use of a mediator as the first step to resolve any potential conflicts and then proceed to arbitration, or if necessary court.
Family businesses that have lasted years have understood the value of utilizing a mediator to reduce tensions, to positively drive their company’s success and for their own peace of mind. Contact Us, to see if we can help restore the balance within your firm and family.