Business partnerships take time and effort to maintain, just like any other professional relationship. However, issues within a partnership can have much more significant effects than disagreements between coworkers. Without effort by both parties, arguments can spell the end of the business.
This is why effective conflict resolution is crucial for ongoing partnerships. Mediation is one of the most effective methods for resolving serious disputes between partners because it brings in a neutral third party to keep the proceedings civil and assist with negotiations.
Mediation does take effort, though. Here’s what you need to know about mediation for business partnerships and a guide for successfully resolving disputes.
Understanding Business Partner Disputes
Business partnerships are among the most interdependent professional relationships in any field. Partners work together to supplement each other’s skills and make their business more successful. The loss of any partner can seriously impact a business’s ability to succeed.
However, this close relationship makes disputes both more likely and more detrimental. Common causes of disagreements within partnerships include:
- Breaches of contract, like failing to meet a deadline or compensation disputes
- Conflicts on the direction of the business, like whether the company should expand
- Different management styles, such as a lenient manager vs. a strict taskmaster
If these issues are not addressed, it can lead to the breakdown of the partnership.
That’s where mediators come in. A skilled mediator is a neutral third party who is present to help the disputants negotiate on even terms. Working with a mediator can help partners resolve their disagreements and strengthen their company.
Guide to Effectively Mediation Partnership Disputes
Mediating a partnership dispute takes time and effort. Still, it is significantly easier to negotiate a disagreement than to close a business. Here’s how to mediate your next partnership disagreement for a successful outcome.
1. Establishing the Mediation Process
One of the major benefits of mediation is its structure. Having a clearly established process for resolving issues makes it easier to put them aside during daily operations. To define the process, you will work with your partner and the mediator to determine when, where, and how long each session will be. You will also discuss what to cover at each meeting so you know what to prepare.
Additionally, the mediator should be someone you mutually agree upon. This ensures neither of you feels attacked or outnumbered during your meetings.
Finally, you should be clear about the confidentiality and impartiality of the process. What is said in mediation stays in the meeting room.
2. Preparing for Successful Mediation
Preparation is critical to successfully negotiating a solution. Before your first meeting, take the time to clearly define what you believe the disagreement is, your top priorities, and your preferred outcome. You should also collect important information supporting your argument to bring to the meeting.
At the first meeting, you will set additional ground rules for the process. You will likely also set an agenda for the proceedings going forward.
3. Conducting Effective Mediation Sessions
The point of mediating disagreements is to create a safe and cooperative environment to communicate and negotiate solutions. Your mediator will help you achieve this.
To do so, they will likely have you both explain your viewpoints in nonconfrontational ways without making accusations. They may also have each party summarize what they understood the other person to be saying to ensure everyone is on the same page. This minimizes adversarial attitudes and encourages more collaboration.
4. Mediation Techniques for Resolving Partner Disputes
Once everyone understands each other, your mediator will use a variety of techniques to help you find solutions that work for everyone. These strategies may include:
- Identifying your common interests and shared goals so you can work together more effectively
- Facilitating effective compromise and finding win-win solutions by encouraging collaboration and suggesting alternatives
- Using creative problem-solving techniques to address complex issues, such as brainstorming, “yes and” responses, and reframing problems as questions.
These techniques should help you come closer to a satisfactory solution throughout each session.
5. Reaching a Mediation Agreement
By the end of the process, you and your partner will ideally have found a solution that satisfies you both. Your mediator or attorney will help you draft a clear and comprehensive mediation agreement outlining the terms you have discussed.
While an agreement is not required, it is considered best practice for disputes that require outside intervention. A legal and enforceable contract ensures both parties follow through with the deal after mediation ends. In addition, knowing that an agreement will result encourages commitment to the process by everyone involved.
Preventing Future Disputes and Promoting Healthy Partnerships
Mediation is more than just a one-time solution for business problems. It is also an excellent tool to strengthen partnerships and shape company culture for the better. By adding alternative dispute resolution methods like this to your toolbox, you:
- Establish effective communication channels and conflict resolution strategies going forward
- Develop a better understanding of your own and others’ priorities
- Build a stronger relationship through trust, respect, and shared values
- Reduce the likelihood of future serious disputes
In short, working with a mediator can help you improve your business over the long term.
Begin Partnership Mediation Today
Communication and effective dispute resolution methods are critical to maintaining strong partnerships within your business. It’s more than just a one-time fix – it can actually improve your business in the future. If you have a conflict with your business partner, don’t hesitate to get help. At the Law Offices of Denise Eaton May, P.C., our experienced mediators have decades of experience in a wide array of business law matters. We are prepared to support you through your dispute and help you find more effective solutions. Discuss your needs with our Hayward law firm and mediation office by scheduling your consultation today.