Business relationship breakdowns can be as bad as a divorce, and just as costly.  It can be very difficult to know how to resolve a fundamental issue between yourself and a business partner, or between 2 members of your team.  By their very nature, things are extremely personal, often emotional and hurtful. The normal rules of employment law don’t apply and a different, more creative and empathetic approach is needed.

So, how do you resolve this type of situation?
The answer is – it depends!  Finding the best way of resolving the situation satisfactorily for all concerned takes a concerted effort, patience and creative thinking.  The starting point is to seek to understand the ‘primary objectives’ of the business partners or team members.  These primary objectives may be hidden beneath layers of anger, frustration and disappointment.  Identifying and understanding them is key to being able to bring the parties to a position where you can move forward.

How do you meet everyone’s objectives?
Once you have identified the primary objectives, you then need to find a way to meet them all, or as many as possible.  This is where creativity and experience come into play.  It often requires approaching the situation from a fresh perspective in order to find a solution.  Seeing things from a new perspective can lead to new observations, new realisations and a new understanding of everyone’s position.

Solutions and problems
The initial solutions you come up with will often create additional problems and issues that need to be tackled.  This is part of the process and to be expected. If it was easy, people would not be in the situation they have found themselves in.  This is why normal employment processes don’t work.  It is not a simple case of disciplining one person or performance managing another.  It is a question of really understanding the dynamics of the situation and engaging everyone in finding a solution that works for everyone, particularly the business as a whole.

Flexibility and adaptability
It is an inevitable part of the process that the primary objectives of those involved will change as the process unfolds.  In some cases, people become more polarised and someone who started with a view that things can work out, may well reach the conclusion that they can’t.  Similarly, someone may have started with the view that things can never be resolved and then find that there is a solution after all.  Confronting your true feelings about a situation is never easy of straightforward for those involved.  You need to be flexible and able to adapt to the constantly changing dynamics of the situation.

Whatever it is, there needs to be a resolution of the situation.  Otherwise the business has wasted time, money and effort with nothing to show for it and a problem that will re-emerge sooner rather than later.  The solution will require some tough decision making but, if you have followed this process, the right outcome will be clear.  This then needs to be implemented as tactfully and as quickly as possible.  It must be a surgical strike to protect the business and the individuals concerned.  Patience, time and skilful resources are required during the early stages,  When it comes to resolving the situation, you need a healthy determination to really tackle the issue and achieve the best solution for your business.