Some conflict is good; too much conflict is bad; uncontrolled conflict produces disputes … and that’s very bad.
Family Conflict Resolution – Overview
Because: Family Business makes no sense (due to the clash of incompatible systems) all Business Families run the risk of generating conflict.
Some family leaders (patriarchs and matriarchs) just don’t get it. They’re delusional, in denial, incapable, over-protective, fearful, or foolish. So the cancer keeps growing, and the elders’ failure to act constructively destroys trust, people, families and businesses.
At one level, family conflict occurs when family members get “unaligned”. Respect, trust and truth become early casualties, as everyone ducks for cover, or races away down their own paths.
Bringing everyone back into alignment can be as simple as discovering what’s knocked each of them off course (dismantling the situation) and addressing each deflector – to neutralise its effects. This doesn’t always need to be a soul-searching resolution process; although sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.
“A gram of prevention is worth more than a kilo of cure”.
Many of the components of family business best practice focus on putting things in place, and using them, to help prevent conflicts from developing in the first place.
Measures range from developing a shared sense of clarity about what’s going on and what’s intended, to having open and positive cultures, to developing formal codes, rules and structures to help manage family interactions.
When prevention hasn’t worked and a conflict is developing, the sooner it’s managed the easier it is to resolve.
Sometimes the family peacemaker (there’s almost always a peacemaker!) can safely do this, and sometimes it requires outside intervention, from skilled dispute resolvers / family mediators who carry no emotional baggage.
Family Conflict Resolution
Family conflict is where “angels fear to tread“, because the mix of human emotion, family dynamics and commercial imperatives creates so much complexity.
Resolution must address the individual’s, the family’s and the business’s real needs, – in the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons – to avoid making a sacrifice of one or more elements.
Understanding, alignment, agreement and forgiveness should be key drivers of the process.
When prevention and management haven’t been successful, and conflict has brewed, both family and business suffer. It’s unlikely that intervention from within the family will be successful. At best, it may suppress symptoms for awhile; at worst, it will compromise someone’s neutrality and position within the family, and make things far worse.
External, non-destructive intervention can resolve the conflict and help everybody understand why it developed in the first place. The process should deal with causes, as well as symptoms, to achieve durable and lasting solutions.
Solutionist Mediation Process
The Solutionist Mediation Process minimises pain and damage to individuals, family and business, while achieving best possible outcomes, under the circumstances.
Our process is more robust than standard mediation, as it combines forthright and objective advice with problem solving encouragement and facilitation.
The process models solution-oriented negotiation: to transfer knowledge, insights and skills to the parties – through their participation in the process.
Improved skills increase prospects for better future relationship management.
Solutionist Mediations result in written agreements containing commitments to do, or to not do certain things in the future. They usually explain the consequences of success and failure.
For more information, see Family Business Conflict.