If your family-owned business is struggling, then you may be considering family business mediation. A trained mediator can help you voice your problems and discover solutions while maintaining the health of both your personal and professional relationships. However, before you can begin mediation, the mediator will likely conduct several pre-mediation interviews with all parties who will be involved in the mediation as well as other co-workers. Understanding the purpose of these pre-mediation meetings will help you provide relevant information and prepare for mediation yourself.
Identify All Parties and Their Relationships
When you first contact a mediator, they will begin by assessing which parties should be involved in the mediation. For example, if you own a business with your sibling, perhaps you and your sibling will need to be present. However, if you have a large board that is affected by your familial conflict, other board members may need to be brought into mediation. Additionally, if there is a spouse or parent who is not currently employed at the company but who is influencing decisions, they also may need to be brought in at some point.
Identify Problems and Issues
After the mediator has identified the major parties involved in the conflict, they will interview each party separately to better understand the problems your company is facing. Often, each party will have different issues and be unaware of the issues that the other party has. These interviews will allow the mediator to determine which problems should be discussed in which order.
Identify Reasonable Options for Resolutions
The mediator will also want to get a feel for what each party considers reasonable in terms of resolutions. Often, family members have not considered resolutions before calling a mediator. This gives time for you and the other parties involved to consider what you actually want to achieve before you begin mediation.
Design the Mediation
Finally, the mediator will use these initial interviews to design the mediation. For example, they will determine where the mediation will be held, what rules will be followed regarding discussions, and how long each session will be. Their goal will be to make each party feel comfortable and to limit the power or control of each party enough to make the mediation successful.
In some situations, the pre-mediation interviews can take more time than the actualfamily business mediation process. This is because solutions are often discovered during this process and during mediation an agreement is easier to reach. By participating openly and honestly in your pre-mediation interviews, you will help the mediation be more effective for everyone involved.