Business Partnership Advisor
Together, we can fix your business and partnership problems
Chris Reich, Business Luminary
Before You Need Mediation, Get Moderation
This is a special message from Chris Reich
Before You Need Mediation, Try Moderation
This isn’t just a verbal game. I’m serious. When you think of mediation, what comes to mind? A dispute? A big dispute? A dispute so big that that it takes some sort of referee to rule on who is wrong? That’s the image most people have of mediation.
Many of the partnership cases I help with are in bad shape. It can take a few meetings to calm things down to a point that progress is possible. If you take action before the partnership breaks down completely, it’s much easier to clean up misunderstandings and to get some rules in place for future decision-making.
Before the tension is extreme, I can serve as moderator rather than mediator. As a moderator, I start by hearing all parties privately. Then I help form an agenda for a video conference. When we meet, I act as a moderator to keep us on the agenda and speaking calmly. An experienced, neutral party present tends to keep the discussion civil and on point. That’s moderation.
If Your Problems with Your Business Partner Are Not Too Serious— Yet
Moderation is ideal when business partners are still able to talk to each other but there is tension in the air. You know what I mean if you’re reading this. Maybe, you feel like it’s time to talk about money, but you dread having the conversation. Or, you might feel like you are working too many hours without enough in return. Perhaps you don’t feel aligned when dealing with employees. You want to discuss it but you don’t want to spark an argument. That’s what I would call an ideal time for “moderation.”
Another advantage of the moderation approach is that people are more open to the process. Remember that image I painted above? There is resistance when people think they are being led into a sort of trial. Judgment is a terrible thing to bring into conflict resolution.
The Moderation Process works largely because working on the problems before they heat up is far more manageable. Business partners not only talk through the issues; they learn how to conduct future meetings without the need of a moderator. If things get tense down the road, we can always jump on a video conference.
As long as the partners are talking and still have some degree of respect for each other, moderated meetings will almost always get the partnership back on track. If there is some tension in the relationship with your business partner but you don’t feel like you need mediation, try moderation.
It’s Easy to Get Started
Start with a free consultation. You can explain the situation confidentially and get some ideas that will help you immediately. Take as much time as you need to unwind the problems. It’s a real consultation, not a sales pitch from me. I guarantee you will fee better after we talk.
Chris Reich, Business Moderator
“The sooner you address the tension in your business partnership, the easier it will be to sort it out. Most issues can be resolved with a couple of moderated meetings if the relationship isn’t too strained.” Chris Reich
When the business partnership breaks down, the darker sides of the personalities come through. A dominant partner turns into a bully. A person who does not do well with conflict will withdraw. As the bully gets more aggressive, the pacifist withdraws further. Eventually, the bully gets so angry they are ready to lock the other partner out. The pacifist quits coming in. The next blowout is over money. The course is as logically predictable as what will happen to your car if you hit the highway with no oil in the engine. It will get louder and louder until the engine seizes.
I recommend that partners talk through a specific issue and then draft an agreement (called a resolution) that sets a policy. You can keep this in a binder to serve as amendments (or foundation) to your Partnership Agreement. In this post I’ll explain how to talk about things that bug you with your partner and how to draft a binding resolution to fix the problems.
Unless you are in some sort of political business, you should keep politics out of your establishment completely. Of course, you have freedom of speech, but we are in very contentious times and displays of political or religious positions might be off-putting to to your customers.