Business mediation in family businesses

Conflicts of individuals in the economic life represent an almost everyday challenge. The long-term success of affected companies depends on whether and how we manage this challenge. Going to court is usually a lengthy and costly undertaking. In addition, a court case in many cases brings results that do not meet the real needs of the conflicting parties.

For this reason, the interest of entrepreneurs in alternative conflict resolution methods such as mediation is increasing. Moderated conversations lead to results that save time and resources and better meet the wishes and needs of the persons involved, not only in cases of inter-company conflicts, team conflicts or in apprentice mediation. Even and especially within the family, professional conflict management can lead to outstanding results.

The greater the personal and emotional aspect in the arguments of the conflict participants, the better results will be mediation or professional conflict management. Usually, the relationship aspect in conflicts is greater, the closer the conflict participants are to private life. This is especially the case in family businesses. So mediation seems to be the means of choice for conflict resolution in family businesses.

Conflicts in family businesses

In companies where several family members work, there is a regular overlap of privacy and economic interests.

Both the sphere of the family and the professional sphere hold conflict potential. So it can happen that due to family conflicts the professional sphere suffers. In other cases, private relationships suffer from unresolved conflicts within the organization.

As a result, entrepreneurial productivity and economic efficiency suffer. If conflicts within the entrepreneurial family (s) remain unresolved for a long time, family divisions and the demise of the company can follow.

Business mediation in family businesses as a conflict resolution instrument

The instrument of mediation offers family businesses a confidential process in which a neutral third party (mediator) guides and moderates communication between family members. Qualified mediators help to deal with upcoming conflicts in a structured way and reduce the problems of family members to their core. This creates a relaxed and trusting conversation climate for everyone involved.

An experienced business mediator (conflict manager)

• provides you with an orderly process to solve the issues that are at stake, to facilitate communication between family members, and to implement the solutions found in this process
• acts as a translator of the positions represented by each family member
• offers suitable future communication and conflict resolution models
• helps family members find new, mutually satisfactory solutions and rebuild trust
• supports the family in the planning and implementation of the solution steps
The role of the business mediator

Experienced business mediators are familiar with the emotional, economic and financial consequences of unresolved conflicts in family businesses. Ideally, they have extensive leadership experience in various business enterprises and organizations. So they have sufficient practical understanding of entrepreneurial problems and tasks.

Business mediators are equidistant to all parties involved. They give everyone involved in mediation equal hearing.

The media registered with the Federal Ministry of Justice are also obliged to maintain secrecy by law and ensure that the entire mediation process is confidential. The business mediator documents the conflict resolution process and makes these documents available to all participants upon request.

Practical consequences

• Mediation clause
As facilitating as mediation may be for all those involved, mediation ultimately serves as the ultima ratio for dealing with the symptoms of a conflict.
In order to avoid future escalation of conflicts, effective preventive measures should be considered that no longer require mediation: appropriate clauses in shareholder agreements ensure, for example, that certain conflicts are resolved by involving a neutral third party (mediator).
• Family Council
A more far-reaching and effective measure may be regular meetings of stakeholders in the form of a Family Advisory Council.

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