There were nine and then two were left
One mediation story that I always tell is about a start-up business with the members went greedy. Greed plays a big part sometimes in business mediation when partners just don't get the concept that they need to work together and just because they think they are working harder than everyone else does not change the fact that you are in business with other people. The business is not about you, but rather it is about the company as a whole. Ego can set off greed that sets off the destruction of a business.
Several years ago I had two young men that started a healthcare supply company. Both worked hard at the business, they got the company certified by the Joint Commission on Healthcare, they are all the products distribution lines in place, they opened a warehouse, and they started to work with medical facilities. They did all the right stuff. However, they needed money to buy their inventors, so they needed a cash infusion, and the best way was to get investors to help the growth. They found seven individuals that wanted to invest so they put in their money because they trusted these guys and saw what they had done. The two guys continued building their brand and business.
However, there is always a however to a story. Some members of the seven got the greed bug and plotted to take the business from the two guys. The investors saw the success and started to make demands and wanted to get involved in the day-to-day operations. They started to stir the pot and greed between the other members. Probably the most unprofessional group of individuals that wanted to take over. Now in healthcare companies it takes time to get your certification, get the approval to bill medical or Medicare, and then you must go through steps before you can make any money. The two founders were just about there to start billing out after all the work getting these various certifications and approval levels.
The investors started to create trouble internally and it had to be stopped before they could go forward. They came to me with their problem, and it was something that needed to be mediated or present an offer to pay back all the investors and let them walk away. On a Friday afternoon all of the partners and the two founders went into my board room. I let each investor have their say, I listen carefully, and their true story came out. It was not an ethical story. I left the room with the two founders and drafted an agreement to terminate the investors’ role in the company and return the funds to the investors. We went back into the board room, and I let both founders have their last word and present their offer. Each one accepted the offer, of course with a lot of angry words, but it was accomplished, and the partners left. The agreement was signed, and the monies paid out. Investor’s greed ended a potential profitable relationship where they could have sat back and watched their money flow to them. Instead, they chose a greedy route that ended badly for them.
Mediation is the best way to resolve conflict in business disputes. The open and structured communication process provides a way to tell the story of the dispute, organize a negotiation strategy, and to put option on the table that is fair to the other parties in the mediation. I love the process of mediation. My role is to listen, counter their negotiation arguments with other approaches, and to get to an agreement that can be signed, and all parties can move forward. It is much cheaper than the court system, it is faster and less abrasive, and the parties come to an agreement that works.
If you have a business conflict, or a heavy-duty dispute, call my office at: 305.824.2966 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.