Meetings represent those snippets in our day where we have to sit and confront our deepest fear: social interaction.
Steve Thompson, Managing Director of the marketing, analytics and digital recruitment agency Forward Role, highlights the importance of meetings in an organisation:
“Meetings can be useful, but we’ve all been in a meeting that’s been ruined by some bad habits. Whether it’s cutting people off mid-sentence, people twiddling their thumbs with their eyes on the clock or slurping down a late lunch, these habits — if left unchecked — can turn a good meeting into a bad one.”
Steve picked out some of the worst offenders, with a few tips on how you can deal with them.
- The late arrival
Arriving “fashionably late” might work for parties, but in the world of business, your delayed entrance will only frustrate everyone involved. Late arrivers are creatures of habit, and — like the proverbial hare — they chronically underestimate how long it will take them to get from A to B.
In dealing with a late arriver, do: Take a minute or two once the meeting has finished to privately ask your late arriver why they’re late. If their excuse isn’t legitimate, challenge them on improving their punctuality so it doesn’t impact others.
Don’t: Do a quick recap on their behalf of what’s happened up to that point. No one sits through recaps on Netflix, so don’t force the other people in your meeting to do so either.
- The phone checker
Research shows that we touch our phones 2,617 times a day; phone checkers bring the whole average up. In meetings, they’ll meet the minimum eye-contact quota before slowly succumbing to the allures of the world in their pocket, and before you know it, they’re four articles deep into Buzzfeed taking a quiz on how many types of bread they can name in three minutes.
When dealing with a phone checker, do: Politely ask them to put their phone away. If their habit is particularly extreme, you could implement a “no phones in meetings” policy.
Don’t: Confiscate the phone or complain about “kids these days”. That’s why no one liked Mr Wilson at school. If you’re reading this, Mr Wilson, I want my Nokia 3310 back.
- The multi-tasker
Everyone loves a hard worker. The problem is that hands-on individuals often fail to see the value of “sitting and talking”, no matter what the issue might be, and insist upon bringing their work along with them to the meeting. If you find yourself talking over the pitter-patter of laptop keys while you’re trying to explain the scope of a new marketing campaign, you might have a multi-tasker in the room.
When dealing with a multi-tasker, do: Wait until after the meeting to ask them about their work. Do they have too much to do? Are the deadlines too tight? Help them figure out which meetings they can skip if they need to, but be clear that if they’re in a meeting, they need to be all in.
Don’t: Try to shut their laptop on their fingers while they’re still typing. Even if you do it hard, it won’t be enough to stop them jabbing out a strongly worded email to HR.
- The sceptic
The sceptic or “Doubting Thomas” makes a regular appearance in important boardroom brainstorms, with the sole aim of crushing ideas underfoot while failing to provide any viable alternatives. Sceptics often discourage others from speaking up for fear of being made to look stupid, which means they need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
When dealing with a sceptic, do: Ask that everyone bring at least a few ideas to the meeting in preparation. This will help ensure sceptics have to contribute something to the meeting and encourage them to suspend judgement.
Don’t: Put on a silly voice and mimic them whenever they criticise anything.
- The conversationalist
Conversationalists are nice people that suffer from one fatal flaw: they talk much more than they listen. They’ll dip between their own conversation and the wider one when it suits them, failing to realise that there’s even a meeting happening. They would probably bring along a few beers if it were socially acceptable to do so.
When dealing with a conversationalist, do: Set the tone by going around the room and asking for the input of each person one by one. By having just one person speak at a time, conversationalists are more exposed and get policed by their peers.
Don’t: Ask them if they would like to run the meeting thinking that it’s a punishment for them. It’s not — they’ll probably take you up on it.
- The font of all knowledge
They’ve done their research. They’re passionate about what’s being discussed. On the surface, the font of all knowledge is the person you want at every single meeting you have. The only problem? Fonts don’t see the need for letting others add anything, because they’ve already thought of everything themselves.They’ll probably get to that idea eventually if you’d just, you know, let them keep talking, ideally for the whole meeting and maybe even when the meeting has finished and everyone is looking at their watches and oh gosh it’s lunchtime already but Brian is still talking.
In dealing with a font of all knowledge, do: Thank them for their idea (they’ll be the first to share) and quickly direct a question at another participant in the meeting.
Don’t: Yell “BORING!” while they’re mid-sentence.
- The interrupter
Interrupters aren’t malicious: most often, they simply lack the self-awareness needed to prevent from —
“What do you mean by that, exactly?”
… interrupting. Like that.
Interrupters often bring good ideas along with them and, unlike sceptics, tend to challenge ideas in order to improve them rather than to assert their authority. But all that interruption breaks the flow of the conversation and doesn’t allow people to reach the end of their thought before being —
“I’m just trying to get a scope of what you’re saying, here.”
… cut off.
When dealing with an interrupter, do: Orchestrate the meeting so that there are regular times in which questions about a thought or a proposal can be raised. For example, let one person in the meeting communicate a thought, and then ask “Does anyone have any questions about that?” Interrupters will jump right in there, allowing them to use their critiquing ability for good.
Don’t: Deliberately interrupt them when they’re speaking. They’ll probably just interrupt you back and then you have to shout over each other to save face and that’s just awkward.
- The human statue
Human statues subscribe to the Jurassic Park school of meeting etiquette: “Don’t move! They can’t see me if I don’t move.” Though they don’t appear to be doing any harm, human statues are among the most dangerous characters to have in a meeting because they encourage passivity in others.
When dealing with a human statue, do: Approach them before the meeting and let them know that you’ll be asking them for input in the discussion. That way, you dispel the “what if” factor — they know for sure they’ll be picked, and should come prepared to speak up.
Don’t: Inform them that T-rexes actually had good vision and that keeping still wouldn’t save them in a life-and-death scenario.
- The gastronomist
Fresh coriander, smoked paprika, melted cheese, roasted chorizo… These are all smells that you’d love to catch a whiff of in your favourite restaurant, but in the boardroom, it’s a little distracting. Nevertheless, gastronomists will bring along their little gourmet lunch boxes and proceed to noisily devour their meal while you try to explain why conversion rates are down for the third month in a row.
When dealing with a gastronomist, do: Check their schedule. If they physically have no time in their day for lunch, you should work with them to clear their diaries of less important meetings to give them some “me time” to enjoy their tupperware-packed duck confit with rosemary and thyme.
Don’t: Try to one-up them with a pan-seared filet mignon and a nicely paired Chianti.
Are there any we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Mobile engagement will prove vital for enhanced customer experience in the world of finance
By Nick Millward, VP Europe at mGage
With the world becoming more digital – as smartphones play an intrinsic part of everyday life – customer behaviours are changing, and the financial services industry should look to further enhance their mobile engagement to deliver exceptional experience and increase customer loyalty. With Gartner predicting that 89 percent of businesses are facing competition based predominantly on the consumer experience, the need for excellent customer service has never been greater.
Today, customers require a seamless experience from their financial service providers, where banking tasks can be handled easily and securely from mobile devices. They also expect businesses to be present at whatever time they want and on whichever channel they use the most.
In fact, 73 percent say they are more likely to leverage digital banking and payments following the current situation. Therefore, financial brands need to commit to a move to mobile and allow a variety of financial tasks to be carried out via mobile messaging to deliver exceptional customer service, which in turn will increase customer retention.
Mobile channels for financial services
Consumers are clear about how they want brands to communicate with them. They want brands to take note of their preferences for which platform to use, to deliver them engaging and interesting messages, or send them information that makes their lives easier, and they want brands to provide some assurance that they have got security right too. There are a variety of channels available for financial services to utilise without customers having to download additional applications from those that they already use frequently. From next-generation Rich Communication Services (RCS), to Push Notifications and SMS, these are all perfect communication platforms for delivering the best possible customer service.
To meet customer demand for more conversational and personalised interaction, businesses should utilise the new RCS messaging platform, which brings text messages to life. In the financial sector, RCS can act as a customer’s real-time branded personal assistant where queries can be answered within the platform by utilising automated chat and rich media items such as mini bank statements can be sent. RCS also builds customer trust with features such as logos and branding and the verified sender scheme, which provides an additional layer of security and boosts consumer confidence. As a platform, RCS can achieve 14 times higher engagement rates and has a two-way nature allowing for users to initiate conversations.
The utilisation of Push Notifications can also prove beneficial for the financial sector to complement the growing use of banking apps, with the message being delivered to the mobile device without the user having to be in the mobile app itself. It allows banks to send timely, relevant notifications to their customers – whether to check a balance, review the latest interest rates, or inform them of the approval of an application. With 55 percent of consumers using their mobile banking app as the primary way to check their account balance, Push Notifications are a key way to alert customers to any changes or important information that they need to be aware of, without relying on them opening the app. Being the most universal form of non-voice communication, SMS is available on any mobile phone device and will remain a key part of a brand’s communication strategy as a channel that many people know how to use, regardless of their demographic. SMS messaging has provided financial institutions with a ubiquitous channel to support the customer journey, with 83 percent of financial organisations confirming that after deploying this technology they have witnessed a greatly improved customer experience.
SMS still remains a technology that can increase efficiency while lowering service costs – providing a cheaper and faster service for consumers that often results in a better service experience too. This will prove key for banks and financial organisations that do not have large call centres, giving customers an alternative form of contact. It also gives businesses a tool for a variety of tasks, such as sending balance updates, fraud alerts, one-time password and payment reminders, as well as using it to verify any new transactions or payees that have been set up via a banking app.
Offering a range of innovative solutions which each bring their own benefits, the power of mobile messaging must not be underestimated, with 88 percent of financial organisations admitting that it has greatly impacted their customer experience. Through these channels, brands can achieve higher rates of engagement in line with customer expectations for instant support.
Customers want brands on mobile
As the world becomes more digital, customers are demanding a move to mobile, making it essential for brands to leverage mobile messaging or enhance their current offering to stay ahead of the competition. With two thirds of consumers now preferring to use text over voice when receiving customer service and 77 percent of people aged 18-34 saying they are likely to have a positive perception of a company offering text capabilities, it is clear that there is a large appetite for these solutions.
With these channels, users can receive support or raise an issue at a time of their choosing to give ultimate convenience. For example, RCS and SMS can be used to report lost or stolen cards, or raise a query relating to a transaction instantaneously without having to wait on the phone for long periods of time.
With 78 percent of consumers admitting that texts have given them more autonomy and confidence when interacting with their bank due to the convenience and accessibility it offers, mobile messaging has proven to be a beneficial resource to improve the customer journey in the financial sector.
Future of messaging
In today’s industry, where customer loyalty is highly valued and it is relatively easy to switch banks, it is imperative that businesses provide the best customer experience and offer a competitive edge. By utilising mobile messaging and enhancing their current communications, brands can unlock convenience and customer-centricity to receive heightened levels of engagement and stay relevant to their customers.
With operational savings by as much as 20 percent, it highlights just how beneficial mobile messaging can be for financial service organisations worldwide. By listening to customer expectations and the growing trends being witnessed in the industry, financial institutions can leverage such solutions to achieve the associated advantages to set them apart from their competition and ensure their success in the future.
Why are there so few female CEOs and what does it take to succeed in a male dominated industry?
By Gayle Carpenter, Director of creative agency, Sparkloop
When you think about inspirational female leaders or role models, names such as Malala Yousafzai, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama, spring to mind.
But for me, I just can’t get Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl out of my head, strutting her stuff in those 1980’s shoulder pads! That film was pretty ground-breaking, addressing previously unspoken topics such as equal rights for women in the workplace, feminism, and the wage gap; topics that are still relevant today.
Although twenty years on, have things changed much for the role of women in the workplace? From where I’m standing as a female Creative Director, women are still striving to be treated equally. So actually, things haven’t really moved on and efforts to redress this balance are moving all too slowly.
In 2016, Forbes cited that women made up only 11% of creative directors worldwide. Looking at current statistics, over 2 million people are employed in the creative industry in the UK, but there is still a glaring gender imbalance faced by the entire sector with just 12%-16% of creative directors across design, concept and film being female.*
We talk about the tide turning but is it really? And when? What do we do about it?
The Importance of Female Role Models
The next statistic from Forbes is one that resonates the most with me and is something we absolutely need to address: 88% of young women say they lack female role models in the industry.
I have worked hard to become one of that 12%-16% who can write ‘Creative Director’ in my email signature and therefore feel that this role comes with a huge responsibility to be a role model, to be someone that other aspiring female directors can relate to, learn from and be encouraged by. It is my duty, and the duty of all females in the same position, to look over my shoulder and encourage women to follow me rather than forging ahead and leaving them in my wake.
Realise the Dream
To stay at the top and thrive, there are a number of factors that I adhere to:
Be confident in your ability – embrace what YOU can bring to the table and enhance the positive differences.
Have empathy – Encourage team members to feel safe and confident in their own abilities.
Build a great team around you – Your team is largely your key to success, so it is essential to take time to choose the right people to support you. In my experience, female led teams are often more loyal as they thrive on the support and empathy they are shown.
An article from the Harvard Kennedy School cites that ‘Previous research has shown that mixed gender teams are more generous and egalitarian, and that teams with a larger percentage of women perform better by building meaningful relationships and creating successful work processes.’
Be heard but don’t shout – strike a balance between being heard and being too confident. You have an opinion and it matters but you can cut through the noise rather than shout above it.
An equal partnership
On a personal level, women are, of course, traditionally disadvantaged if they have to take time out of their career to start a family. Challenge the perception that this automatically pushes you back down the career ladder and encourage partners to become a more equal co-parent. Sharing the responsibility will afford you the opportunity to pursue your career, and with less guilt.
Old boys rule
There are definitely hurdles which continue to make it difficult for women to get to the top and the most evident one in my experience is that despite ‘times changing’ and women starting to bridge that gaping male/female divide, there is still an old boys network at play.
As I have moved up this male dominated career ladder, it has definitely been a challenge to be taken seriously. At times, being female has hampered my chance of winning work and I have definitely been treated differently to men in the process. A particular anecdote from my career highlights this reality – when I was leading a design team, despite my professional, calm nature and passionate yet measured opinions, I was still referred to by the all-male board as ‘Feisty Gayle’. My rather more ego-driven and loud male counterpart was just ‘assertive’. Why is that?
Accept and adapt
It does take courage, grit and determination to succeed at the top as a female creative director, and to earn the respect you deserve, but the advice I have given in this article is for any individual who wants to be successful in business or who wants to lead a team.
As a female leader, take the time to encourage women in all sectors to believe they can get to the top, if this is what they really want, and lead by example. Let’s face it, there isn’t much of a historical framework in place to refer to but, bit by bit, we can build one.
As an aspiring female director, and if you really want to make it, don’t fight the system as it stands. Acknowledge it and do something about it as it’s not going anywhere fast. It is important to take stock, remind yourself you are not a man, and believe that you can succeed as a female.
And you really don’t have to wear a 1980’s power suit to be taken seriously in business -– we have at least moved away from that – unless you want to of course!
Why hybrid working will shift the economy, not ruin it
By Pete Braithwaite, COO at B2B self-service portal KIT Online,
Today explained that despite the major drive to get people back to the office, which the government has now U-turned on, the future comes in the form of hybrid working, which could make cities outside of London and Manchester have access to a larger pool of talent.
“When we’ve seen how well we can perform at home, the idea of going back into the office five days a week is a little unnecessary. Of course with some roles, including many in healthcare, working from home isn’t an option, some do not have the space or desire to work from home and others prefer the social and creativity aspect of working in the office, which is fine. But we can’t scare people to return to the office when they’re trying to protect themselves and their family’s health, and they can do their jobs perfectly well at home,” he said.
“The future is neither working from home or working in the office. It’s hybrid working, with the ability to work from anywhere. Being around people is what inspires some. For others, it’s nature. Who’s to say we can’t be productive by working in a retreat in the countryside so long as we have the right equipment and services to keep us connected? When people work at home during the day, the local shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in their immediate vicinity are likely to be positively impacted. This could lead to a shift to a revitalised and more localised economy with employment spread more evenly rather than just in city centres.”
New remote-working technology has helped many companies to adapt easily to the new ways of working. Many national and international teams were already using video-conferencing software but this has become the day-to-day modus operandi for most successful teams now. Other companies have taken the opportunity to review their systems and ensure that they are fit for a more distributed workforce, investing in more portable devices that help employees work anywhere around the house and balance work with parenting. The move away from a desktop reliance has made lives easier.
“The fourth industrial revolution is much closer than we thought. I fully understand that the Government wants to breathe more life into our cities, but the genie isn’t going to go back into the bottle – working from home isn’t going to go back to being only when someone has a doctor’s appointment.
“Instead, there needs to be a blended way of working. Otherwise, the best people will leave for a business which is adapting faster.”
His comments come after some claimed the demise of the so-called ‘Pret economy’, whereby fewer people are going to cafes, shops and restaurants on their lunch and on their commute. But Braithwaite delves on the recent story of the CEO of Pret, who announced last week that instead of following businesses, they’re now following their customers. Pret has adapted its business model, using Deliveroo to deliver at home and to students, selling coffee beans in Waitrose and, most radically, introducing a coffee subscription model.
“Successful companies aren’t downsizing, but instead they’re adapting. The future will be leaner and the economy will shift as people spend their money differently, such as in suburbs and on home renovation.”
Recent stats revealed that numbers of people spending in London’s suburban town centres have picked up fast, and small independent traders in towns such as Okehampton recently reported more customers through their doors, after a recent YouGov poll found 30% of consumers say they have used local retailers more since the pandemic hit.
“Cities won’t die, but well-paid workers, with the rise in remote working, could actually become less congregated in London, and spread themselves thinner, thus spending more in other locations. IT will need careful investment, and human interaction will still be King, but you don’t need to have one without the other,” he concluded.
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