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.
Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working. We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.
This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Great Britain only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.