One thing that can be said of meetings in the UK is that they are frequent. They are often also inconclusive, with the decision of the meeting being that another meeting should be held.
The British themselves often complain about the frequency and length of meetings they must attend.
In comparison with many other cultures, relatively little preparation is done for meetings (with the exception of client-facing meetings). This is because meetings are often viewed as the forum for the open debate of an issue and that, during that open debate, a route forward will be found. When the route forward is agreed then the detailed work schedule will be implemented. Being over-prepared for meetings in the UK can result in certain negative feelings towards those who have prepared in advance. ‘There is no point having a meeting with the Germans (for example) because they have already decided the outcome prior to the meeting.’
Agendas will be produced and followed loosely. If something important arises during the open debate it will not be excluded simply because it does not occur on the agenda.
The British consider themselves to be punctual, but when pressed will admit to rarely arriving on time. It is now fairly common for people to arrive five to ten minutes late for meetings.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Great Britain. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Great Britain and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: